Dickinson County Museum - Where History LIVES!

The Dickinson County Museum, in a 140 year old depot, provides unique educational experiences based on authentic objects, stories, and lives from Dickinson County.  Our purpose is to inspire people to learn from those artifacts through public programs, publications, educational activities, and special events.

Virtual Tour

If you can’t visit us in person, visit us virtually!

Virtual tour created by the Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Come and visit us in person to experience many, many stories of the people, events, and communities of the early days of Dickinson County and the Iowa Great Lakes!

Help Us Bring The Depot Back to Life!

The Dickinson County Historical Society proudly announces the launch of a comprehensive capital campaign aimed at raising $250,000 for the renovation and enhancement of the Dickinson County Museum. With a primary focus on restoring the 140-year-old depot and introducing interactive exhibits, this initiative seeks to offer visitors an enriched and educational experience, preserving the heritage of our community.

Did You Know?

There is a piano in the upstairs living quarters of our depot?  Steve Dyson, grandson of the last depot agent whose family called our depot "home" shares an almost unbelievable story of how the piano came to be in the upstairs of the depot.


Railroad Wizard:  The Lost Stories of Dickinson County's Railroads

Sunday, October 15 2:00 pm at the Dickinson County Museum


History LIVES! at the Dickinson County Museum!

Join Don Hofsommer, noted railroad expert and author of "Prairie Oasis - the Railroads, Steamboats, and Resorts of Iowa's Spirit Lake Country" as he shares stories and information about the early days of the railroads in the county and the impact they made.  Don is an engaging, knowledgable speaker who will bring the area's railroads to LIFE!



Every Wednesday at 10:00 folks gather at the Museum for conversation about the way it was in Dickinson County Way Back When.  The conversation is lively and fun, and many laughs are shared.  All are welcome!  Coffee included!


Our popular History LIVES! Speaker series features engaging speakers sharing stories, information, and photos about Dickinson County’s colorful past.  In addition to experiencing the live programs, all programs are live-streamed on our FaceBook page and uploaded to our YouTube channel.



After 140 Years, the Depot will be Warm in the Winter and Cool in the Summer!

Thanks to a generous grant from the Dickinson County Endowment Fund and other sources, our depot building will be usable year-round!  Installation of insulation and mini-splitters for heat and cooling begins soon.

A Little Bit New for You

Staff and volunteers have spent lots of time over the winter sorting artifacts, rearranging displays, "spiffing" exhibits, and moving duplicate items into storage. Why? To improve your experience at the museum, of course! Our displays now feature items that enable visitors to easily enter into the stories of Dickinson County. Some of our favorites? Quilts (on a new rack built by volunteer Terry Gano) that feature signatures of early residents, a gun used by Fred Gilbert - the "Wizard of Spirit Lake"- in national trapshooting contests, military uniforms - and the stories of those who wore them, and the infamous permanent wave machine used in a Milford beauty shop.

Next up? Creating meaningful labels that focus on the stories. You see, we believe that our artifacts are beyond awesome. They really are. Yet the real super power of our awesome artifacts is that they are portals into the stories of those who came before us. And those stories are worth knowing, for sure.

Get Involved

Join the growing community of Dickinson County Museum supporters!