Dickinson County Museum - Where History LIVES!

The Dickinson County Museum is housed in a 140 year old depot. We provide unique educational experiences based on authentic artifacts, 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!

Screenshot 2024-04-10 at 6.12.50 PM

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.

EVENTS COMING SOON!

Way Back Wednesday - On the Move!

Wednesday, July 24th at 10:00AM

The weekly Way Back Wednesday group will be meeting at the Higgins Museum to tour and learn more about Iowa’s banking history. Join us for an exciting morning!

 

Way Back Wednesday - On the Move!

Wednesday, August 14th at 10:00AM

The Way Back Wednesday group will be meeting at Templar Park to hear stories from John Smeltzer about the historic hotel. John will also be showing the group where the buildings used to stand. Come join us for an exciting morning!

 

Queen II History Cruise

Thursday, August 15 at 7:00PM

Join local history buff and museum director, Mary Dreier, for an evening on Her Majesty, The Queen II. As the Queen cruises around West Okoboji, Mary will be sharing stories on the way things used to be around the lakes. We encourage you to ask questions and engage in the conversation. Tickets for this event must be purchased at the Arnolds Park Amusement Park Ticket Office. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Templar Park Gateway Arch Centennial Celebration

Saturday, August 17th at 2:00PM

Events

WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAYS

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!

HISTORY LIVES SPEAKER SERIES

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.

 

News

After 140 Years, the Depot is 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 is usable year-round!  Come check it out!

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!