Living History Farms – Urbandale, Iowa

Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa, tells the amazing story of how Iowans transformed the fertile prairies of the Midwest into the most productive farmland in the world. The interactive outdoor museum will bring back memories for some, teach others what life was like prior to the current day and entertain those that wander through the different exhibits.  THere are authentic models of historical and modern farming for you to see.

The farm seeks to re-create daily life of those that worked the farms in the past.  You will see authentic simulations of typical historical farm sites and a small town from time periods that illustrate major changes in agricultural technology, procedures and rural life.

The General Tour:  This Town and Farm tour includes the 1875 Town of Walnut Hill, the Henry A. Wallace Exhibit Center, and all three farm sites, and can take anywhere between 3-4 hours to complete.

The Step Saver Tour is 2 to 3 hours and eliminates the walk from the 1700 Indian Farm to the 1850 Pioneer Farm.  The tractor cart driver will drop you off at the 1900 Farm and pick you up at the Wallace Exhibit Center.

The Town Only Tour takes 2 hours or less and includes the entire 1875 Town of Walnut Hill.

While at the 500-acre open-air museum, visitors travel at their own pace through five historical time periods spanning 300 years. On-site interpreters provide a unique learning environment of seasonal activities and demonstrations.

You will have the opportunity to visit the 1700 Ioway Indian Farm where you will learn that the women did most of the farming while the men were responsible for hunting and making the tools.  Their living quarters will certainly be of interest to you so take the time to visit this area.

The 1850 Pioneer Farm has everything that you would expect from this time of year.  There is a lot to learn about the changes that took place in farming from the 1700 where the farmers were subsistence farming and the 1850′s where the farming had evolved into many learning how to make money from extra pigs, poultry and crops.  Take the time to visit this area and share the stories of life for the pioneers from this time.

When you leave the 1850′s area you will want to go to the 1900 Horse-Powered Farm to see the changes that took place between the 1850′s and the 1900′s.  With the end of the Civil War there was the Industrial Revolution which resulted in changes throughout the barnyard.  Instead of performing field work by hand, farmers used modern machinery to cut hay, plant corn, and bind oats. Inside the farm kitchen, the wood-burning cook stove and the Mason jar made food preparation and preservation much easier.

By 1900, most farmers used draft horses for hard labor. The 1,800 pound animals plowed the fields for corn and oats, planted the crops, cultivated the fields, brought in the hay crop, pulled wagons of field corn, hauled manure. Farms would not have been as successful without the aid of the horses.

Technology had reached Iowa farms in 1900, by way of the hand-crank telephone, Acorn cook stove, and updated farm equipment, such the horse-drawn plow, planter, hay press and more. Corn, oats, and hay were the most common crops on turn-of-the century Iowa farms. Commonly raised farm animals included sheep, chickens, hogs, milk-cows, beef cattle, ducks, geese, and turkeys.

Take a stroll through the 1875 Town of Walnut Hill and see what a post-Civil War community in Iowa looked like.  You will learn how the farmers and the merchants and craftsmen all worked together for a better life.

n Walnut Hill, several craftsmen have opened shops. There is Matthias’s Blacksmith Shop, Beem’s Broommaker, and Schuetzen’s Cabinetmaker. The latter also serves as the village undertaker through his role in the construction of wooden caskets. Greteman Brothers General Store is stocked with many reproductions of 1875 items and has a large inventory of small items for sale. The town also includes the Walnut Hill School, Dr. Armstrong’s Office, Taylor’s Law Office, Heck Vet Clinic, Walnut Hill Bank, The Advocate Newspaper, Mrs. Elliott’s Millinery, Schafer Drug Store, The Church of the Land, New Hope Cemetery, Tangen Implement Warehouse and the Tangen Family Home. The Italianate Victorian Flynn House and adjoining Flynn Barn were built in 1870. Both structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Living History Farms
11121 Hickman Road
Urbandale, IA 50322

Hours of Operation:

2012 Hours
May 1 – August 19

Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm
Sunday, noon-5pm
August 20 – October 14

Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
Wednesday-Saturday, 9am-5pm
Sunday, noon-5pm

The last tractor-cart to the farm sites leaves at 3 pm each day. Ticket sales and admission to Living History Farms ends at 3:30 pm each day.
$12.50 for Adults
$11.50 for Senior Citizens (60+) and military
$7 for Children (12 and under)
Children aged 2 and younger FREE
Living History Farms Members FREE


  1. It was totally worth it because it showed us everything from animals to houses I would go again.

  2. I went here as a kid it was super cool.

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