Come Tour Greene County
Greene County's strong sense of history and idyllic setting provides an inviting and relaxing backdrop for its many attractions and events.

The most memorable feature of the city of Jefferson is the Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower. Named for its donors, Floyd and Dora Mahanay, the tower, which lies adjacent to the courthouse, stands 168 feet high, and provides a commanding view of the city of Jefferson and the outlying area. The glass-paneled elevator arrives at the observation deck at a height of 120 feet, and while getting a bird's eye view of the countryside; visitors often wait for the bells to chime. The 14 cast bells mark the hour as well as the half and quarter hours, and also perform bell concerts regularly.

The annual Bell Tower Festival, which occurs the second weekend in June, draws thousands of visitors and serves as a showcase for all the wonderful features Greene County has to offer. With a bistro and live entertainment, food booths and art and craft vendors, a carnival, an art show at the restored Milwaukee Depot and countless other activities to entertain old and young alike, the Bell Tower Festival is an event you won't want to miss.

In the center of Jefferson's town square, lies another notable structure. The Greene County Courthouse showcases classic period architectural gems such as marble design elements and a mosaic tile floor in the rotunda depicting the county seal which incorporates the theme "Home of the Horn of Plenty." The domed rotunda also features lunette murals depicting the "progress of civilization as recorded in Iowa," and a stained glass ceiling.

The Greene County Historical Museum is located at 219 East Lincolnway in Jefferson, one block east of the Courthouse Square. The museum is open Wednesdays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. May through October. It can always be opened by appointment, by calling 515-386-8544. The Greene County Historical Museum provides exhibits and information including pre-historic archaeological materials up through and including 1970's memorabilia.

The exhibits include Indian artifacts found in Greene County, drainage of the wet mossy lands, a 1900's house, a doctor's office from the 1930-50's era, barber shop, bank, and drug store. Also included are recognition of persons and artifacts of our country's wars throughout the history of the United States. Individual Greene County citizens are also recognized for their national prominence including Doreen Wilbur, Olympic Gold Medal archery champion, and Loren Shriver, NASA astronaut.

Greene County was part of the Louisiana Purchase and secured from France by the United States in 1803. Iowa became a state in 1846; and three years later, Truman Davis and his family were the first white settlers in what became Greene County. They settled aong the banks of the Raccoon River in the southeast corner of the county. Maps of Greene County showing the location of significant historical sites are available to the public at no charge.

The Raccoon River Valley Recreational Bike Trail is another attraction, which draws a large number of visitors to the area each year. Beginning at the Old Milwaukee Depot in Jefferson and extending to West Des Moines, this cycling excursion covers 57 miles of a renovated and paved retired rail system. The trail, with gentle grades, offers a variety of scenery from area woodland river valleys to pastoral wide-open farmland. One of the highlights on the Greene County leg of the trip occurs just south of Jefferson as you cross over the North Raccoon River on a 600-foot section of an old trestle bridge.

Fall being harvest time in the Midwest, one of the best family oriented events in the area is the Annual Fall Festival at Deal’s Orchard, which takes place the second weekend in October. A sample of the offerings includes horse-drawn hay wagon rides to the pumpkin patch, candle dipping, a haunted house, a corn maze and old fashioned homemade ice cream. With visitor totals averaging 12,000 for this single weekend event, it's plain to see the hometown flavor of Greene County has a very broad appeal.

Greene County possesses a keen talent for preserving history while at the same time incorporating it into progressive everyday use. Two examples of this work are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The first, being the refurbished Milwaukee Railroad Depot. While it originally played an important role in the development of the county, it now serves as the trailhead to the area's premier bike trail, housing tourist information, railroad memorabilia, and art shows sponsored by the Greene County Arts Council.

The second is the Gallup House, which also illustrates the community's desire to utilize its important existing resources while looking toward the future. This unique octagonal structure, the birthplace of famed Gallup Poll founder, Dr. George Gallup, is currently undergoing restoration by Gallup & Robinson, after which it is planned that the home will be available for a variety of uses, such as business or private retreats, educational meetings and seminars, and private receptions.

Complete with reproduction Burma-Shave signs, Greene County's portion of the Historic Lincoln Highway leads the way to several area attractions. Just east of Grand Junction is the convergence of a piece of transportation history. Within a few hundred feet of each other lie the original version of the Lincoln Highway, later U.S. Highway 30, the newly relocated U.S. 30 and the grade of the Union Pacific Railroad. Travel down the road to Jefferson and you will find the Greene County Historical Museum, which houses an extensive collection of items, including Native American artifacts as well as a broad timeline of objects illustrating American progress, from pioneer times to the early days of television.

Continuing on, in downtown Grand Junction, is the local office of the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association. Filled with an array of memorabilia and photos, the informative staffers can help you plan your own exploration of this historic piece of Americana at its best.