tab-left-lo Home tabs-lolo Geology tabs-lolo LHHA tabs-lolo Tours tabs-lohi Attractions tabs-hilo Links tab-right-lo

Monona County Attractions


Population 264, the little city with the big heart was started in 1880 with a little store in the settlement now called "Old Town". In 1900 the tracks of the Chicago Northwestern Railroad were constructed down the Soldier River Valley, about a mile away, which necessitated moving the town over the hill east to the present site. Business buildings were moved with stock intact. Trading was done while the horses, which were pulling the buildings, rested. The town is named for its founding pioneer family.

Sign outside the Loess Hills Visitor Center

Loess Hills Visitor Center & Gift Shop in Moorhead features arts and crafts by area artists and consignors and is open year round. Loess Hills maps and information are available for travelers and volunteers staff the center. Step-on guides are available by appointment for tours of the Loess Hills area. 712) 886-5441

The Moorhead Cultural Center

Moorhead Cultural Center in Moorhead features changing exhibits and displays throughout the year from May to December. The Center has superb tin ceilings and offers country souvenirs. Annual exhibit favorites are the Celebrate the Hills Art Show, Loess Hills Literary & Photography, Children of the Loess Hills Art Show, and features additional new displays each year. 712) 886-5017

Loess Hills Scenic Overlook

Loess Hills Scenic Overlook near Moorhead with wooden deck and ramp accessible to all. This spot offers a panoramic view of the Loess Hills and Missouri River floodplain.

Drive bys:

The 'Brick' on the west side of Moorhead was built in 1871 and is the original Moorhead family home and early post office.

Civilian Conservation Corps campsite on the east edge of Moorhead near Hwy 183 was one of the first established CCC camps in the United States and operated there from 1934 to 1941.

Christian Church at 407 Oak St has unusual corner entry and architecture. Erected in 1903, the Church features beautiful rosette stained glass windows.

The Ingemann Church near Moorhead

Ingemann Danish Church and Cemetery west of Moorhead was founded by early immigrants in 1884. This unique country church offers a scenic respite for travelers.

  • Mann Country School on Oak Avenue was named after 1867 family settlers and closed in 1946.
  • Preparation Town Site is south of Moorhead on Hwy 183, turn right on Peach Ave. There are seven 'Hike-in' camp areas, hiking, and native prairie.
  • Preparation Cemetery, located south of Moorhead on Hwy 183 to 334th Street and ½ mile west was established by Mormons in the late 1860's.
  • Jones Creek Watershed south of Moorhead on Hwy 183 to 334th St, West to County Hwy E60 is one of the first watersheds built in the United States. The project was started in approximately 1937 by Civilian Conservation Corps. (CCC)
  • Preparation Canyon State Park south of Moorhead on Hwy 183, then west on 314th St. A Mormon settlement during the 1800's, this 334 acre park contains one of the state's largest areas of native prairie and burr oak forest. Scenic overlook at the entrance provides a view of the deepest valleys and steepest hills. Hiking, primitive camping.
  • Savery Pond 4 miles Southeast of Moorhead on Plum Ave. The 25-acre park with a 15-acre pond has a boat ramp, fishing, and primitive camping.
  • South Jordan Cemetery, North of Moorhead on L-16 to Peach Avenue and 260th St. is a burial site of post Civil War black Americans.


Population 205, Soldier is a Norwegian community located near the Soldier River. As a young man Lawrence Welk played here many times. Soldier was probably named for a Union soldier who, according to legend, was on his way home from the war, died and was buried along the stream. Soldier has the oldest (1923) continually active 4-H Club in the nation.

Parks & Recreation areas:
Oldham recreation area at 245th St. is a 13-acre park and lake featuring a boat ramp, swimming beach, fishing, and camping and picnic area.


Soldier Norwegian Country Church & Cemetery

Soldier Norwegian Country Church & Cemetery on 280th St was built in 1904 and is noted for it's unique interior and stained glass windows.

  • Soldier Valley Veteran's Memorial Park on Main Street is dedicated to all veterans of the area who served in the Civ il War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam or Gulf War. The names are etched on a granite wall.


Population 3282, The name Onawa was probably taken from the Indian love song in Longfellow's "Hiawatha" and means "awake". The county seat was incorporated in 1859 and is known for the widest main street in U.S.A.
Museum Complex in Onawa has a unique museum complex comprised of three museum developments all located at the north end of 12th street. All museums in the complex are open to the public with no admission charges. 712) 423-1801

The Monona County Veteran's Memorial Museum has two outdoor displays. An M60 Armored Tank that stands as a silent sentry, a A7D Corsair II Fighter Jet, and Huey helicopter, as well as an extensive collection of photographs, uniforms, and other images help to remind us of the sacrifices made by our veterans.

The Kiwanis Railroad Depot Museum Complex features a Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Station built in 1902 and a C & NW Caboose, 1875 Evangelical Covenant Church, 1862 Franklin No. 7 School, 1866 Eggleston log cabin, Fire House-Jail, and early Blacksmith shop
The Monona County Historical Museum features changing displays and exhibits throughout the year. Onawa is the birthplace of the Eskimo Pie and the museum houses information and artifacts from that unique piece of history.

  • Monona County Arboretum at 318 Iowa Ave & Hwy 175 is the Monona County Conservation headquarters. Toured by appointment, the 11-acre site displays 75 species of trees, shrubs, windbreak design, and native prairie grasses.

Monona County Courthouse at 610 Iowa Avenue, a Romanesque brick structure with gabled roof surmounted by a tower, was built in 1881-82.

  • Onawa Public Library at 707 Iowa Avenue, built in 1908, is recognized as one of the best examples of Prairie School Architecture.
  • Murphy House at 1106 Iowa Avenue was built in 1881-82. The exterior and interior walls of brick for this beautiful Victorian home came from the Turin Brickyard.
  • IOOF Opera House at 1023 N. 10th St. The International Order of Odd Fellows held meetings upstairs and Operas were held in the late 1800's.
  • Parks & Recreation areas:
  • Lewis & Clark State Park on Hwy 175 is located along the Lewis & Clark Historic Trail. View interpretive panels and full-sized keelboat replica. Year-round, this 250-acre oxbow lake from the Missouri River offers hiking trails, boat ramps, swimming, water skiing, and fishing. 712) 423-2829
  • Middle Decatur Bend Access on Cherry Avenue and 243rd St. is situated on an oxbow along the Missouri River.


Population 228, Castana was platted on July 24, 1886. When a branch of the Chicago Northwestern Railway connected Castana traders with the latest goods and services. Castana was named by the founder, for what he believed to be the Latin word for chestnuts.
Western Iowa Experimental Farm near Castana was established in 1946 for the development of agriculture in the Loess Hills.
Loess Hills Wildlife Area & Sylvan Runkel Preserve at Oak Avenue and Nutmeg is the location of the annual Loess Hills Prairie Seminar. Composed of approximately 3000 acres of native prairie and woodland area it offers the best hiking, bird watching, and primitive camping.

Dormitory Inn at 130th- 4th St. was built in 1888 and provided living accommodations at the turn of the century for aspiring teachers who taught across the street from the Castana School. It has been restored into a Bed & Breakfast and meeting rooms. 712) 353-6797

Sunflower Studio at 329 Elm St. offers arts and handcrafted items along with matting, framing, and weaving services. 712) 353-6426

Timber Ridge on 153rd St. has a unique log lodge and acres of recreation area, including cabins, public and private areas set in the heart of the Loess Hills. 712) 353-6600

Loess Hills Vineyard is being established in the Timber Ridge location and a winery will soon be operated out of the lodge.


  • Archway Park features a corner of an early Castana Bank preserved as an 'archway' in the city park, also the site of a veterans memorial board.
  • The Works Progress Administration (WPA) built Town Hall of Castana in 1936.
  • Kennebec Cemetery houses the gravesites of the Smith Family, the first burials in Monona County.


Population 395, in 1887 the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroads established a depot and a village was born. Ute was name after a Ute Indian who had befriended the settlers. Ute celebrates their annual Fun Days on the third weekend in August with a parade and celebration organized by the Community Club.


  • Ute Post Office on Hwy 183 is a brick building built in 1909 and was the site of a bank until 1928. The post office located there in 1932.


Population 82, Rodney was incorporated in 1887 and rests along the old Milwaukee Railroad track. When the first train stopped at the new depot a passenger named Rodney was the first to alight, and the town was named for him.
Parks & Recreation areas:

  • Rodney Pits recreation area is east on E14 and features a picnic area, tent camping, and boat ramp, fishing and hunting.


Population 250, Blencoe was platted in 1881. In 1878 the Sioux City and Pacific Railroad built a station. The town is believed to be named by a settler from Canada who was working on the railroad. Blencoe was incorporated in 1891 and settled by many Scotch and Irish settlers. The first post office and settlement was actually called "Bottoms", because of its proximity to the Missouri River, and was located one-half mile west of the present town.


  • Congregational Church at 126 N. Manley, built in 1913, has beautiful stained glass windows on all four sides of the church. A large window on the east is of special significance.
  • St Bernard Catholic Church at 215 Main St. is a 1941 lovely brick structure with attractive bell tower and stained glass windows.
  • New Community Center, City Park with shelter house.
  • Parks & Recreation areas:
  • Huff-Warner Access on 305th St., along the Missouri River offers a 'Prairies and Pelicans' interpretive panel. Camping, boat ramp, open shelter house, potable water and electricity are available at this site along the Lewis & Clark trail on the Missouri.
  • Blencoe Lake Wildlife Area includes 70 acres of marsh and dry timber with a variety of hunting opportunities with access only by the Missouri River.
  • Upper Blencoe Bend Wildlife Area, 94-acre Missouri River accessible plot where visitors will find waterfowl, deer, pheasant and other wildlife.


Site of Turin Man

Population 103, Turin was originally called "Bluff Point". In 1887 a railroad station was built and the town of Turin began. The railroad required excavation of the bluffs to build the right-of-way to Onawa. Several Italian laborers were buried alive when the bluff collapsed. At the request of the Italian workers, the town was renamed "Turin" in memory of Turin, Italy. Turin is the site of an important archaeological find - the "Turin Man".


  • Turin Man along L-14 on the North edge of Turin is the site of archaeological find in 1955, thought to be over 6500 years old.
  • Turin Bank on Larpenteur Road & Hwy 37. The brick structure was built in the late 1800's and has survived many disasters and various business operations.
  • Larpenteur Memorial Road winds along a scenic portion of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway. The road was named for Charles Larpenteur, a French fur trader who settled in the area in the 1800's.


Population 1300, Mapleton was originally located on the west side of the Maple River back in 1844. When the Northwestern Railroad route was established in 1877 on the east side of the Maple River, the town site was moved there. By 1896 the settlers had officially named the town Mapleton for the beautiful Maple River, which flowed nearby.

Museum of American History at 302 7th St in Mapleton was built in 1896 and features Gothic Revival and Romanesque architecture. Museum is full of Americana and political history and artifacts. Tours by appointment. For information contact 712) 882-1460.

Corner Cottage at 322 Main St. features handcrafted giftware, basketry, conservation matting and framing. 712) 882-2082

Dolly & Dad's Antiques at 414 Main St. is open by chance or appointment. 712) 882-1323
Drive bys:

  • Whiting House located at 603 Courtright St. is a restored Victorian home, built in 1889.
  • Ring House at 104 N. 6th St. was the first frame house built in Monona County and was built during the Lincoln Presidency. An all walnut structure, lumber was hauled in by oxen.
  • St Mary's Catholic Church at 201 N. 8th St, built in 1909, has beautiful gothic design throughout the church, magnificent stained glass windows, colorful statues, three elaborate altars, and carved oak pews.
  • Parks & Recreation areas:
  • Beaver Run located on E16 east of Mapleton to L37 north is a 65-acre wildlife management area of beaver dams and native grasses and wetlands.
  • Prairie Trail, along Hwy 141 west of Mapleton runs along an abandoned railroad right of way. Planted to short grasses and wildflowers, the two-mile trail begins on the west side of the Maple River.
  • Whiting Woods between 140th St and 160th St. offers hiking, nature studies, and an open shelter house.
  • Gray's Landing on Hwy 175 is a 4.3 wildlife management area with hunting and fishing including access to the Maple River for boaters and river walkers.


Population 734, Whiting was settled in 1856 by five Whiting brothers who came by horse-drawn wagons from Ohio. The first store was built in 1873. The Main Street of Whiting, along with some of its residents, appeared in the Hollywood film "Children of the Corn".


  • Lakeside Studio at 604 Whittier features antiques and photography.
  • Drive-bys:
  • Library, City Park and Victorian homes.
  • Parks & Recreation areas:
  • Badger lake Wildlife Area at the Whiting exit of I-29 is a 987-acre site of an old oxbow lake with upland and marsh habitat. This is a popular area for viewing and hunting pheasants and waterfowl.
  • Lighthouse Marina, west of Whiting, at the end of 170th St near the Missouri River offers viewing of an interpretive panel along the Lewis & Clark Historic Trail, along with camping and river access.