Things To Do

  • We are proud of our past and want to share it with you, as it is the foundation of our future. Come explore our community’s rich heritage of our pioneer past through the industrial revolution; which formed this community’s character.  
     
  • We are proud of our past and want to share it with you, as it is the foundation of our future. Come explore our community’s rich heritage of our pioneer past through the industrial revolution; which formed this community’s character.  
     
  • We are proud of our past and want to share it with you, as it is the foundation of our future. Come explore our community’s rich heritage of our pioneer past through the industrial revolution; which formed this community’s character.  
     

Historical

Visit these National Register of Historic Places located in Fort Dodge and Webster County.

Corpus Christi Church, 416 N. 8th Street, Fort Dodge

Dolliver Memorial State Park, North of Iowa Highway 50 on Des Moines River, Lehigh

Lorenzo S. Coffin Burial Plot, Northwest of Fort Dodge off Iowa Hwy 7

Oakland Cemetery, 1600 North 15th Street, Fort Dodge

Oleson Park Music Pavillion (Bandshell), 1400 Oleson Park Avenue, Fort Dodge

Ringland-Smeltzer House, 1019 2nd Avenue South, Fort Dodge

The Beh Building, 629 Central Avenue, Fort Dodge

Webb Vincent House, 824 Third Avenue South, Fort Dodge

Webster County Courthouse, 701 Central Avenue, Fort Dodge

 

A historical marker stands at the site of the original military fort which would establish Fort Dodge as a community.  It is located on the 300 block of First Avenue North.  The marker includes a map of the original plat of the community, as drawn by William Williams in 1854.
Blanden Memorial Art Museum

The Blanden Art Museum has a permanent collection which includes modern American & European paintings, African sculptures, glassworks and 16th-20th century American, European & Japanese prints.  The Blanden also has adult and youth classes, art education classes, meet & greet artist events and family fun activities.

920 3rd Ave. S., Fort Dodge, 50501
Phone: (515) 573-2316
www.blanden.org
Fort Museum and Frontier Village

The Fort Museum is housed in a stockade fort and pioneer main street.  Buildings and corresponding collections include a family cabin, church, one room school house, cabinet shop, land office, general store, drug store, jail, print shop, blacksmith shop, livery stable, pottery building and tinsmith shop. Other collections included are prehistoric, military, Native American, Civil War, period furniture and early Fort Dodge artifacts. The only remaining cabin from the fort which established Fort Dodge is dedicated to Lewis A. Armistead, a confederate general killed at Pickett's Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg.  Prior to joining the confederacy, Armistead served as Quartermaster at Fort Dodge.  Another special exhibit building tells the story of the Cardiff Giant, one of the biggest hoaxes from the 19th century which started from gypsum mined near Fort Dodge.

1 Museum Rd., Fort Dodge, IA 50501
Phone: (515) 573 - 4231
www.fortmuseumfv.com
Freedom Rock Trailhead

Just Completed in April 2016! This is the site of the Webster County Freedom Rock on which artist Ray "Bubba" Sorenson II painted patriotic scenes on the 25,000 pound boulder.  Webster County's Freedom Rock will be specific to this county depicting scenes specific to this county's veterans.   

The Freedom Rock Trailhead will also, include an informational trail kiosk, two flagpoles and parking.  The site will have landscaping done and a paved parking area developed in the summer of 2016

At the Junction of A Street and the Karl King Bridge, Fort Dodge, IA 50501
Karl King Band Office and Archival Center

One of Fort Dodge distinguished citizens, Karl L. King's impressive career as a bandmaster, prolific composer and musician made him a legend in his own lifetime. Everyone has heard his Barnum and Bailey's Favorite which, along with the other 200 marches he composed, assured him the world-wide status of March King along with John Philip Sousa and Henry Fillmore. 

Anyone wishing to visit the Karl King office should contact Nancy Olson at (712) 297-8193 or write to Karl L. King Municipal Band Room 146, Fort Dodge Public Library, 424 Central Avenue, Fort Dodge, IA 50501 to make arrangements.

Fort Dodge Public Library, Fort Dodge, IA 50501
Oak Hills Historic District

The Oak Hill District, a four block district placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1977. The district consists of 15 homes which together reflect the changing architectural styles of the post Civil War period, 1870-1910, and the prosperity and optimism which dominated in Fort Dodge during its golden era. The styles of homes in the district include French Second Empire, East Lake, Queen Anne, Craftsman, Jacobethean Revival, and Prairie, a virtual showcase of the architectural evolution of that period. Each family sought to outshine their neighbors in size, quality and elegance of their home, reflecting on the local level the “conspicuous consumption” ethic of America’s “Gilded Age.”  The district, which was originally the southeastern edge of the city, included the homes of the community’s business leaders and leading citizens. Among its residents were a U.S. senator, an inspector for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Iowa’s state printer, the director of the U.S. Mint, the president of U.S. Gypsum Company, the publisher of the local newspaper, and most of the city’s early bankers and entrepreneurs.

Fort Dodge, 50501
Ringland-Smeltzer House

The Ringland Smeltzer House is on the National Register of Historic Places and is an example of Jacobethan Revival style. This style achieved popularity between 1895 and 1920 but is uncommon in Iowa. The house is the work of noted Chicago architect, Solon Spencer Beman. 

The Ringland-Smeltzer family played a significant role both economically and culturally in the history and development of both Fort Dodge and North Central Iowa from the very first years of settlement in the 1850s until the end of the twentieth century and the death of Ann Smeltzer, the last member of the family. The house epitomizes the industry and success of its owners and the Fort Dodge community. The builder of the home, George Ringland, was an entrepreneur whose patent for the improvement of plaster contributed to the growth of the gypsum industry, changed the nature of building construction and was one of the founders of the U.S. Gypsum Company.  The Ringland-Smeltzer family were deeply involved in the arts. The family’s art acquisitions eventually became the basis for the Blanden Art Museum’s permanent collection. With the death of Ann Smeltzer the property came under the control of the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust which maintains the home as a house museum. It stands today as a reminder of a period in which Fort Dodge flourished and the contributions that the Ringland-Smeltzer family made.

1019 2nd Ave S., Fort Dodge, 50501
Phone: (515) 573- 2229
www.smeltzertrust.org
Veterans Memorial Park

Veterans Memorial Park overlooks Badger Lake and includes memorials, artwork and natural amphlitheatre.

1421 National Avenue, Fort Dodge, 50501
Phone: (515) 576-4258
Vincent House

The Vincent House was built in 1872 by one of the first pioneer families in Fort Dodge, James and Adeline Swain. The Swains worked in the wholesale and retail drug business. During the time that the Swains lived in the house, Adeline dedicated most of her time to educating women.  Adeline was also the first woman in Iowa to lead the women's rights movement, which furthered the rights of women's suffrage.  The spiritualist movement became popular and caught the attention of the Swains. This movement was believed to communicate with the dead and equality across humanity, especially in gender. The Swains held séances in the third floor room which is considered the ballroom.  Adeline was elected state secretary in 1874 and was on the Greenback political ticket.

Catherine Vincent bought the home and moved into it in October 17, 1879.  Members of this family would believe and rally for the equal rights of women. They were also interested in the arts and would provide pieces to the Blanden Art Museum’s permanent collection. On April 23rd, 1973, the Vincent House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

824 3rd Avenue South, Fort Dodge, IA 50501
Phone: 515 573-3931
vincenthousefd.org
Webster County Genealogical Society

The Webster County Geneological Society will assist individuals with their geneological research in person or handle requests completely for a fee.

Fort Dodge Public Library, Fort Dodge, IA 50501
Phone: (515) 302-9854
www.wcgsiowa.org
Webster County Historical Society

This organization preserves historical documents and it's volunteers have researched various topics of importance in the history of Fort Dodge. It is a volunteer organization and is only open when volunteers are available.

Fort Dodge Public Library, 424 Central Avenue, Fort Dodge, IA 50501
Webster County Museum

Displays include the largest Boy Scouts of America Collection in Iowa, military, canning & preserving, schools, wash day, hair dryers, country store, millenary, farm items, saws, old post offices, printing press, hospital, medical suppies, rock displays, kitchen items, wedding dresses, railroad, dental, eye exam equipment, area artists, cameras, 4-H, baby/youth, toys, fire equipment, photo studios, local businesses. Memorabilia are from Webster County churches, schools, businessesand individuals.   Some items are from the Gypsum Mills including, pictures, tiles, and bricks. 

The museum has no steps to navigate and has wheel chairs and walkers on site.  Groups are welcome!

515 School St., Otho, 50569
Phone: (515) 972- 4544
www.othoia.govoffice2.com