Forest Park Museum and Arboretum was originally developed in the 1940's by Eugene Hastie, a farmer, local historian and author. The arboretum was planted in straight lines to allow farming between the rows of growing trees.
Since the original purchase of the 5-acre park in 1966, the Dallas County Conservation Board has added 12 acres of re-established prairie and wildflowers and a paved spur of the Raccoon River Valley Trail. There is also a mowed walking trail that perimeters the prairie. The arboretum consists of over 100 different species of primarily native trees and shrubs.
Mr. Hastie loved history and had an impressive collection of items portraying this history of Dallas County. As word spread, many local residents began to donate artifacts to add to his private collection. To showcase these many items, Mr. Hastie's museum, portraying the history of Dallas County, opened to the public in 1953. Many of these items remained with the museum when it was acquired by the Dallas County Conservation Board.
The Forest Part Museum Complex has grown to include Baldwin Hall,Wagner Gallery, the Alton School house, the 1860 Grabenhorst log cabin and the Bill Wagner Scale House.
We consider Forest Park to be among the finest small museums in the state, exhibiting natural, cultural, and historical events and artifacts of central Iowa. Permanent displays include early transportation, farm machinery, small hand tools, railroading, a blacksmith shop and much more. The museum often creates or hosts a variety of traveling exhibits on historical, natural and cultural topics of interest. Click here for info about our Traveling Snake Exhibit.
One of the most popular exhibits at the museum is the electric Dynamo, believed by some to be a perpetual motion machine. It was invented by Henry D. Nelson, a Redfield resident. Mr. Nelson intended to create electricity for a wireless telegraph. It is not known whether Mr. Nelson gave up on his invention or died before he could finish. It is the only one of its kind known in the Central United States.
- Monday -Friday 8:00 a.m - 4:30 p.m. Year round (except holidays) These are also the hours of the attached headquarters and administrative offices of the Dallas County Conservation Board.
- Sat., Sun., and Holidays 1:00 p.m - 4:30 p.m. May 1 - October 31
- The Arboretum hours are from 8:00 to 10:00 PM daily all year long.
- Forest Park Museum is FREE
Several types of interpretive programs are offered, including museum tours, historical programs and natural history programs discussing topics such as early occupations, birds, and wildflowers. Check our calendar or newsletter for more information.
Forest Park Museum
14581 K Ave.
Forest Park Museum and the Dallas County Conservation Board Headquarters are located at the south edge of Perry, approximately ¼ mile south of HWY 141, on the West side of “K” Avenue. (“K” Avenue north of HWY 141 is called 16th Street). Watch for brown and white arrowhead directional signs just before the junction of “K” Avenue and HWY 141.