Take a Tour of our Main Museum Site!
Walnut Station was created as a railroad water stop in early 1869 along the main line of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. Our first depot was built in 1871 or 1872. A replacement was built in 1887 after fire destroyed the original. In September 1953, the RI mainline was changed to bypass Walnut and the tracks torn up east from Marne. Local service continued from Walnut to Avoca, Shelby, and Minden. Our depot was closed in 1958, and taken down soon after that. Local train service was discontinued entirely in 1967, ninety eight years after it began.
This large display includes: World Champion wrestler Earl Caddock in 1917, Caddock's Colts semi-pro baseball team in 1920, the home for Legion Baseball from 1949 to 2010, our lone state champion team in 2003, our five high school state individual champions, and many state tournament teams. Walnut has a rich athletics history on display at the museum.
Walnut's history is based in agriculture, since even the days before the railroad arrived, and that heritage continues to this day. We display a rich collection of early photographs and several artifacts from farm life, both on the first floor and in the basement. We also have catalogued the Century Farms in the area, which covers seven townships within and surrounding Walnut.
Longest Family-owned Farms, consecutive years, still in operation:
-John Stuart, son Cecil, grandsons Leo & Robert, great-grandson Grant 1871-2022
-Klindt / Hansen / Rosenow / Carroll / Johnk (Kent currently operates) 1871-2022
-Burkey / Paasch (Ron Paasch currently operates) 1871-2022
Early Businesses - our Longest Lasting Enterprises
Several displays exhibit our hundreds of artifacts and photographs of Walnut businesses, from the earliest days. Those displayed are ones that were in business for 30+ years, with a few exceptions.
Seee the 2nd floor for more on our banks.
Most Consecutive Years in Business:
-The Walnut News / Bureau 1878-2014 137 yrs
-Walnut Telephone Co 1915-2016 102 yrs
Most Consecutive Years in Business - single person:
-Frank Hanna, MD 1873 - 1936 64 yrs
-Louis Pedersen Tavern 1936 - 1997 62 yrs
Most Consecutive Years in Business - single family one business:
-Harold Lafrentz Standard Oil Co, son Bob 1928-2005 78 yrs
-Carl Martin Contractor / Carpenter, son Mike 1947-2022 76 yrs (still going)
Most Consecutive Years in Business - single family:
Pedersen, 1887 - present 136 yrs
-Wm Pedersen jeweler 1887-1890
-Ludvig Pedersen jeweler 1890 - 1940 (Wm brother)
-Louis Pedersen Sr, tavern 1936 - 1997 (son of Ludvig)
-Louis Pedersen Jr & Rosemary, antique store 1985 - 2022 (still going)
Most Consecutive Years in Business - outside corporation:
-Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad 1869-1967 98 yrs
-Green Bay Lumber Co 1885-1966 82 yrs
Our City School
Walnut's first city school was built in 1875. A frame structure, it burned to the ground January 13, 1913 and was replaced with a new brick structure in the same location in October 1913. That building still stands today.
This display catalogues our city school's history, including the formation of Walnut Community School in 1956 when all local schools were consolidated and one-room school districts were closed.
Walnut has had 2,379 graduates in its history, beginning with our first graduating class in 1889, and ending with the class of 2014.
Our museum includes most graduating class composites, along with an index of graduates. We are missing some early years. Our display also includes a composite of all our AFS foreign exchange students and teachers.
This displays photos and artifacts from our Centennial Exposition held July 2-4, 1971.
Walnut celebrated its Sesquicentennial in July of 2021, and dug up the 1971 time capsule as part of its ceremonies. The capsule was found to be full of water, and many of the items were ruined.
We are in the process of restoring as much of the time capsule's contents as possible, and adding those to our collection to display.
Note: The year 1971 was not necessarily Walnut's exact beginning. That year was chosen by the Centennial Committee in part to avoid other area towns' centennial celebrations in 1969 and 1970.
Map of Walnut, 1901
The Sanborn map company manufactured detailed maps of many American towns for the purpose of insuring properties against fire.
Historians have also discovered that these maps are very useful for capturing an accurate identification of business properties at a point in time.
The map on display utilizes Sanborn maps from 1901, 1909 and 1914, which are overlaid on a 1903 plat map from the Walnut Genealogy Society's collection.
This small display shows the work of several of Walnut's artists, including Harry Lehnhardt, Vernon Paasch, Annis Sager, Gladys (Sankey) Johnk, Donna Wood, Noreen Schroder, and Carolyn Peterson.
Carl "Red" Osler
Horse Man, Chevy Man
Red Osler was a prominent businessman in Walnut's history, operating Osler Chevrolet from 1927 to 1972. He was also an avid horseman, having been named to the prestigious Iowa State Fair Horseman's Hall-of-Fame in 1966.
His best show horse, Mountain Echo, won five-gaited championships all over the midwest, including the elusive Brandeis Trophy at Ak-Sar-Ben in Omaha.
Iowa's Antique City
Walnut was designated Iowa's Antique City in 1987 by Governor Terry Branstad. This display shows that official proclamation, a timeline beginning in 1978 with our first antique store and a vision statement published in 1985 in the Walnut Bureau.
This display is in its beginning stages - we will be adding much more to it in the next few years.
Meeting and Resource Room
Our museum includes a large meeting room / work room which also displays some fine furniture, art, and other artifacts from our main benefactor Wilma Drake DeBerg Johannsen and others. This was her residence for several years.
This room also contains several bound reference items, including scrapbooks and family histories which are available for public viewing or research projects.
1844 to 1881
Other Displays - Main Floor
Post Office Slots
Podium with slots for more information
Kerrie Orozco - a Walnut graduate
Ron Paasch, national champion
Framed Photo Compilation
Railroads, Farming and Baseball
The "new" Camp Dodge, 1918
First Mention of Walnut in print, 1874
Walnut, a poem 1906