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George Maier Rural Heritage Center of Clayton County

George Maier Rural Heritage Center -OriginalLocated in the scenic city of Elkader, the George Maier Rural Heritage Center is a tribute to one man’s dream of chronicling Midwestern rural life combined with an undying interest in “things.” After returning from World War II in 1945, lifelong Clayton County resident, George Maier, began his collection, acquiring countless treasures as he traveled to auctions and sales across the Midwest. Today that collection is housed in the historic 1919 Elkader Sale Barn and includes thousands of rural artifacts and agricultural implements dating back to the mid-1800s.

During a visit to the Heritage Center, you can almost hear the auctioneers of the past calling a sale or cattle rustling as you pass by George’s collections, which document nearly every facet of rural culture. If you are lucky or call ahead, you can even get a personal tour from George Maier himself, now 94-years-old and full of stories about each piece in his collection. Conjuring up images of what it was like to live in a rural agricultural community of the past, this intriguing tour has become a popular stop for SSNHA spring/summer camp participants, as well as teacher workshops held in partnership with Effigy Mounds National Monument.

To help bring the community together around the Heritage Center, Tom Chandler, a retired music teacher from Elkader Central High School is currently in the process of restoring George’s 1915 Studebaker for display at the center. Chandler is volunteering his time and raising funds to cover the restoration costs through donations from local businesses. When completed this summer, the vehicle will be used to promote the museum and available for rent to raise money for continued preservation of George’s collection. “By George, we think you’ll like it!” is how the George Maier Rural Heritage Center describes the museums vast collection to visitors, and we think you’ll like it too. For more information on the Heritage Center, visit www.elkader-iowa.com or call 563-245-2377.

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