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Muscatine Art Center
1314 Mulberry Ave., Muscatine, (563)-263-8282, Website
The Muscatine Art Center is actually two facilities, the Laura Musser Mansion and the Stanley Art Gallery, which are adjacent. Peter Musser, an ultra-wealthy lumber baron, as a wedding gift for his daughter, Laura, and her new husband, built the Edwardian-style Musser Mansion in 1908. The once private residence is now a house museum filled with exquisite examples of period furnishings, rare antiques, and priceless works of art. The contemporary Stanley Art Gallery features works of nationally recognized artists and often displays impressive private collections. The Gallery’s exhibits change frequently, so it is worthwhile to visit the Muscatine Art Center again and again. The Art Center is open Tuesday through Sunday.
Muscatine History & Industry Center
117 W. Second St., Muscatine, (563)-263-1052, Website
The Muscatine History and Industry Center examines products made locally – from buttons to file cabinets and retread for tires to animal feed. The companies producing these goods have more in common than the location of Muscatine. Their histories are made of humble beginnings, risk-taking entrepreneurs, innovative technologies, strenuous days, and moments when driven individuals pushed on in spite of possible failure. “Made in Muscatine” means taking a chance, turning a vision into prosperity, and evolving to meet new demands. The Muscatine History & Industry Center is preserving Muscatine’s industrial past with interesting and interactive exhibits. Visit Tuesday through Saturday for an experience you’ll always remember!
Pine Creek Grist Mill / Melpine Schoolhouse / Wildcat Den State Park
1884 Wildcat Den Road, Muscatine, (563)-263-4337, Website
Muscatine County’s first official resident Benjamin Nye constructed the Pine Creek Grist Mill in 1848, after he had built a series of other smaller mills. Pine Creek Grist Mill, built at the cost of $10,000, was in response to the growing demand of pioneering families to have their crops ground into usable products like flour and meal. Today the Mill is located within Wildcat Den State Park. The Pine Creek Grist Mill is Iowa’s oldest, operational mill, and it is perhaps the most photographed attraction in all of Muscatine County because of it beautiful setting. Located near the Mill, the 1880’s one-room Melpine Schoolhouse is a reminder of Iowa’s early commitment to quality education. Both facilities are open for tours limited hours May-October, no admission is charged.
Musser Public Library / Oscar Grossheim Collection
304 Iowa Ave., Muscatine, (563)-263-3065 Website
The Musser Public Library features guest speakers, musical performances and small, independent film screenings in addition to standard library services. The library also holds a historically significant collection of more than 50,000 glass plate negatives taken by Oscar Grossheim at the turn of the last century. Grossheim, a local photographer, has been was credited with developing the portable camera. The Musser Public Library’s hours vary seasonally; call 563-263-3065 for schedule.
Environmental Learning Center
3300 Cedar St., Muscatine, (563)-264-5922, Website
The Environmental Learning Center is a place with lots of fun things to do, where kids are encouraged to explore and learn about the Mississippi River Valley. The Center’s exhibits are hands-on and interactive allowing children of all ages to take part. Several examples of the fish and animal species native to the area are on display. The Environmental Learning Center is open daily and there is no charge for admission.
Fairport Fish Hatchery
3390 Highway 22, Muscatine, (563)-263-5062, Website
The Fairport Fish Hatchery was originally built in 1908 by the federal government to research mussel propagation as the number of mussels harvested from the Mississippi each year began to decrease threatening Muscatine’s pearl button industry. Today the Fairport Fish Hatchery is operated by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and is charged with hatching and rearing several species including largemouth bass, bluegill, and walleye for stock purposes. A pamphlet detailing a self-guided walking tour is available at the facility.
Great River Road
For more information visit the Website
The Great River Road, a national scenic byway, travels 3,000 miles along both sides of the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. A drive along the Great River Road provides travelers the opportunity to learn more about the river, the charming communities along its banks and to appreciate the river’s natural beauty and splendor. Charles Young, a native of Muscatine, devoted much of his life to the creation of the Great River Road and suggested the design for the Great River Road’s green and white signs which bear the familiar pilot’s wheel. Highway 22 east of Muscatine, part of the Great River Road, offers spectacular Mississippi River views.
Lock and Dam #16
1611 2nd Ave., Muscatine, (563)-263-7913, Website
Lock and Dam #16, located just across the Highway 92 Bridge from Muscatine, is open to the public. Watching barges and tows lock through will interest every member of the family! Lock and Dam #16 is also a great place to observe Bald Eagles during the winter months, as they are able to hunt for food in the open waters created by the dam.
Muscatine Island Produce Markets
The soil south of Muscatine is just right for producing tasty watermelons and delicious cantaloupes in addition to other farm fresh produce. Muscatine’s melon growers claim the combination of long, warm days and light, sandy well-drained soil is the secret to their success. For many generations, these family farms have produced and sold the finest produce available in their produce markets which typically are located in front of the farm itself. Their loyal customers often drive great distances in search of the perfect melon! By autumn, the produce markets begin selling pumpkins, Indian corn, and gourds. Most markets are open from May through October selling homegrown green beans, sweet corn, and tomatoes; however homegrown melons are not ready before late July.
Winters’ Buffalo Farm
3672 Hwy 61, Muscatine, (563)-264-3306
Winters’ Buffalo and Exotic Animal Farm, located east of Muscatine on Highway 61, is a great place for family fun. Buffalo calves are always arriving and they are so cute! Visitors are welcome to watch the herd graze in their pasture. Other exotic animals are kept on the farm, too, including llamas, peacocks and a zedonk, a cross between a zebra and a donkey. Fresh buffalo meat products are available to purchase. Remember to bring your camera!