712-297-8139 [email protected]

New Role for Calhoun County Museum

Information center for travelers on Historic Route US 20 (HR20)

New Role for Calhoun County Museum

Beginning with the 2024 museum season, the Calhoun County Historical Museum will act as the information center for travelers on Historic Route US 20 (HR20). In addition to the impressive collection of artifacts at the museum, Rockwell City is home to six other historic sites of note: Marsh Arch Bridge, City Park, Landmark Milwaukee Depot, Carnegie Library, US Post Office mural and the Calhoun County Court House.

Because HR20 cuts through the center of the county, the county museum is also sponsoring “20 from 20”. All other sites of interest in the county are literally a 20 minute drive (or less) from Rockwell City. Some of these sites include historic cemeteries with Civil War graves; Central School Museum, memorial hall, and Carnegie Library in Lake City; and the bank museum in Pomeroy. Also within easy driving are the county’s many natural resources including Twin Lakes, with two state parks, county parks with camping available, a paved bike path and wet land restoration. Other nature areas include Johnson Prairie and Hickory Park. University 40 Park south of Lohrville has available picnic and camping areas.

The museum will act as the central information hub for the county. It is working with the Calhoun County Historic Preservation Commission to develop tours that will feature agriculturally important features such as barns, Century farms, and grain elevators.

For museum tours, HR 20, and 20 from 20 information, contact Lynne Gentry 515-570-8991.

On Historic Route US 20: Rockwell City

Rockwell City sits at the center of Calhoun County for a reason. Early settlers in the 1850’s and 1860’s called this county “a god forsaken land of water and bullrushes … full of muskrats and mosquitos … the size of wood ducks.”

In 1877 a vote instigated by the residents in the northern and western portions of the county moved the county seat from Lake City in the southwest corner to the newly platted Rockwell City in the center of the county. This greatly eased travel through the marshy country.

By 1890 the county began extensive drainage projects which over time have given Calhoun County some of the richest farm land in the world.

US 20 became paved from Rockwell City east to the Webster County line in 1934. This 12-mile stretch completed a paved route between Rockwell City and Chicago. The paving of the 12 miles west to the Sac County line in 1938 completed the paved route of US 20 across Iowa.

Of Historic Interest in Rockwell City

Marsh Arch Bridge: Roadside Park HR20 east

This bridge marks the original route into Rockwell City on JJS 20.

As their trucks grew in size, semi-truck drivers found that their loads would not fit through the railway underpass and thus the concrete arch bridge was ” … subjected to loads and stress it was never designed to handle” as those truckers used it as a by-pass into town.

Calhoun County Expo and 4-H Fair.

The grounds are also used to host Figure-8 races throughout the summer.

Landmark Milwaukee Depot: on 4th Street south of City Park

One of the few wooden depots remaining in Iowa, this Chicago/Milwaukee and St. Paul Depot preserves the importance of the railroads in the development of Rockwell City and Calhoun County. Built in 1899, the depot sits on its original site.

The depot shows the culture of the time with its separate women’s and men’s waiting rooms.

For a tour of the depot and freight building, contact Paul Henry at 712-830-4987.

Carnegie Library: 425 5th Street, west side of the Square

This classic Carnegie Library was constructed in 1908.

The building served as the public library until 2008. Now a privately held 501 (3)( c) the building is undergoing preservation restoration to re-purpose the 115-year-old landmark on the square.

For a tour of the interior, call the Lynne Gentry at 515-570-8991.

WPA Mural – US Post Office , 4th Street south

The post office in Rockwell City is a federal post office.

Note the certificate signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the northeast corner of the lobby.

The mural above the postmaster’s office is entitled Summer.

Iowa artist John O.R. Sharp also painted murals in Bloomfield and Hawarden.


(712) 297-8139


Museum is open Sundays 1:30 – 4 P.M. from May 5, through September 29, or to set up an appointment, call 515-570-8991.

Calhoun County Museum


150 High Street
Rockwell City, Iowa 50579