Dickinson County Museum - where History LIVES!

“Inspiring Engagement by Preserving our Past”

The Dickinson County Museum, in an almost 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 through public programs, publications, educational activities, and special events.


Way back in the “good ol’ days” of the mid-1900’s, the soft winds of something new, yet old, began blowing through Dickinson County.  As these winds blew through cafes, churches, schools, and kitchens they became stronger until a few wise and courageous folk came together in 1961 and said, “we have such an incredible history in this county, and so many fine things and stories to remember, that we need to figure out a way to save them!”

And they did.

The Dickinson County Historical Society was formed and dedicated to the preservation of Dickinson County history.   Their goal was a big one - to establish a museum to house the wealth of historical material found in the county.

And they did.

In 1970, the efforts of this group bore fruit, as the Dickinson County Historical Society opened a museum in the Lakes Art Center.  This was a good home for the infant museum, but the wise and courageous folk knew they needed more space, and space they could call their own. So they found it.

In 1973, the Dickinson County Museum moved to the former ChicagoMilwaukee depot in Spirit Lake, and in 1975 the Historical Society purchased the depot.

They did it again!

These wise ones were getting lots of practice in creating and doing, and the soft winds of something new, yet old began blowing again through Dickinson County.  And this time, the folks in Spirit Lake said, “we have such an incredible museum in such an incredible depot, but it needs something.  Something big, and something spectacular, and something FUN!”  And they put their heads and their dollars together and dreamed a big orange caboose into being.  Right next to the


A caboose?  Why not?

Whew!  Space within the Museum/Depot shrunk as collections grew, and the wise ones knew it was time again to scratch their heads and figure out the shrinking museum problem.  An addition, they thought.  One that is modern, and big, and can be heated and cooled.  And hold lots of important Dickinson County treasures and stories.  And in 1995 they put their heads, hearts, and muscles together and built a big brick addition that was PERFECT for Dickinson County treasures and stories and VISITORS!

They knew they could do this, and they did.  Whew!

And now?  The wise and courageous ones are listening to the soft winds blowing through the county, and they dream and they plan and they smile.  Because they know.  They know they can do anything to preserve and save the fine treasures and stories of our incredible history.

And they do all of this so you can visit and learn about our rich history firsthand.  We welcome you to visit soon to not only learn, but also share your precious stories.




Our Director, Mary Dreier, comes to the museum with a wealth of experience in juggling lots of ideas, goals, relationships, and responsibilities at once - which comes in handy in a place where there are lots of people with lots of dreams creating lots of opportunities for preserving, sharing, and engaging with the rich history of Dickinson County.   It helps, too, that Mary has a geeky interest in the stories of early life in the area.


Frank Christenson, our Resource Manager, thrives on Dickinson County history and organization – a great combination for a Resource Manager! He has created a Research Area that is filled with Dickinson County resources that are easy to find and use. Frank has a special love of old area photos, which he frequently shares on FaceBook and with our Way Back When group.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of the Dickinson County Historical Society and Museum, Inc. are the backbone of the Dickinson County Museum.

Current members of the Board of Directors:

  • Jonathan Reed, President
  • Gayle Mayer, Vice-President
  • Jeff Vierkant, Treasurer
  • John Sandy, Secretary
  • Joann Gano
  • Irving Jensen
  • Rebecca Peters
  • Tom Riehm
  • Cindy Schubert
  • Mindy Truong
  • Amanda Smith
  • Clyde Ihrke
  • Angie Cook