Harrison County History in Siouxland, Missouri Valley

4 Jul

I have visited a few museums over the years as have many people. One gets a pretty good sense of an area and the facility by what is displayed and information given by docents present. A recent trip to southern Harrison County led me to the Iowa Welcome Center on Highway 30 just outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa and to the Harrison County Historical Museum. It was a nice trip. I found so much information packed into this facility that I will probably revisit it a few times over the next few weeks and show different aspects.

The museum itself is situated on land previously owned by one Preston Niles who moved to the area in the 1930’s. The docents said he had started an orchard and grew different fruit trees and sold the products to locals. But evidently after the “transcontinental” Highway 3o or the Lincoln Highway was built, Niles built a small stand and sold his produce and other products like cherry juice to travelers.

Preston Niles is the former owner and founder of the museum for the Welcome Center and Harrison County Historical Museum near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Niles sounded like quite the entrepreneur. He then conceived the idea to create a museum through which he showed various artifacts he collected along with paintings he did of the surrounding area. The museum began in a log cabin built in the late 1853 near Ames, Iowa, and later that land was purchased by Niles’ father. This cabin was disassembled, numbered, moved and reassembled at its current location.

The early log cabin that Preston Niles, former owner of the site had moved to Harrison County and now park of the museum complex at the Welcome Center and Harrison County Historical Museum near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Over the years Niles prospered, recorded the local history as he collected items and displayed them for people to see. At some point the Harrison County supervisors purchased the land and the museum from Niles and continued the display of early Iowa in this part of Siouxland. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours looking at all the artifacts and then take a walk on a short nature trail overlooking the the surrounding area.

It’s nice to see history preserved for future generations to learn about their local history.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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