Trailside Attractions: Forest Park Museum and Arboretum

Flanked by restored prairie, a trail spur south of Perry leads cyclists to Forest Park Museum and Arboretum.  The complex got it’s start back in the 1940’s when a man named Eugene Hastie planted rows of native trees and shrubs and compiled his trove of local artifacts to share with others.   Over the years the collection evolved into a exhibit.  The museum is free to the public and is open every day May through October.

Entering the museum you quickly go back into time.  The impressive collection of historical items ranges from vehicles and farm equipment to toys and games.  An interesting yet puzzling structure is also on display.  The Dynamo It was built by Henry Nelson who was an inventor from the Redfield area.  It’s a huge in proportions and beautiful carved from walnut.  Unfortunately no one is quite sure what the intentions of the invention was!

There is also plenty to explore outside. Three historical buildings from around Dallas County were relocated to the peaceful spots under the trees.  A log cabin, schoolhouse, and scale house all now reside here and are well cared after.  As a former teacher, I found the schoolhouse very interesting.  With work on the chalkboard and books on the desks it felt as though the students had just left for the day.

The complex is also home to the offices of Dallas County Conservation.  Cyclists can purchase RRVT trail permits here and also get an up-close view of some habitat found in Iowa.   

On your next ride through the Perry area, allocate some time in your ride schedule for a visit to Forest Park Museum and Arboretum.  You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find!  

Happy Riding!