People’s Choice Voting

Congratulations to the following nominees for People’s Choice Site of the Year 2018. Scroll down to learn more about each site. Click on the link below to cast your vote!

Online voting is March 12-March 16, 2018. The winner will be announced on April 9 at the 2018 Partner Site Annual Meeting.

Click HERE to vote for site of the year!










Laura Ingalls Wilder Park & Museum
Nestled in one of the most beautiful areas of northeast Iowa is the village of Burr Oak. It was settled in 1851 and platted in 1856. By the 1880 census, there were over 800 residents in Burr oak township and 200 living in the village. Beautiful groves of oak trees surrounded the village, and Silver Creek wound its way through the township. Two hundred, sometimes as many as three hundred, emigrant wagons passed through Burr Oak each day. In 1876, when Laura Ingalls Wilder was nine years old, the Ingalls family left Walnut Grove, Minnesota, after suffering through two years of grasshopper plagues. They traveled to Burr Oak to help manage the Masters Hotel, owned by their friend, William Steadman, also from Walnut Grove. Burr Oak is often referred to as “The Missing Link” in the Little House book series.
The Masters Hotel is the only childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder that remains on its original site. It is registered on the National Register of Historical Places and welcomes nearly 6,000 visitors each year from all over the world. The mission of the museum is to present Laura’s life in Burr Oak and her family’s experiences by connecting visitors with the pioneer experience. Come and learn about Laura’s life in Burr Oak, as a nine year old girl. Hear her stories that fit in between her books ‘On the Banks of Plum Creek’ and ‘By the Shores of silver Lake’









National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
Dedicated to exploring life of the Mississippi River, the rivers of America, and their global connections, The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa brings rivers alive through a purposeful array of exhibits, educational programs, outreach, and advocacy. Over the past 15 years, 2.75 million people have visited the Museum & Aquarium with on-site visitation and off-site outreach reaching 250,000 annually including 75,000 school-aged children and ~300 teachers. The 14-acre waterfront campus includes indoor and outdoor exhibits, houses 1,884 animals representing 214 species, stewards more than 41,000 items in their historical collection, and receives an average of 84 requests for archival materials each year from researchers all over the world. Conveying strong conservation messages, the Museum features aquariums, aviaries, 4D theaters, hands-on programs, exhibits, wetlands, wet labs, water tables, and a conservation lab all with significant scientific, educational, and research functions. Through conservation and environmental advocacy, the Museum is a leading informal educational institution in Iowa and the Tri-State area (IA, IL, & WI) and a leading collaborator in informal STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education.
An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, Museum & Aquarium is 1 of only 12 institutions in the nation accredited by both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).











Brucemore’s bucolic landscape – with its rolling yards, soaring trees, timber-lined pond, and stunning gardens – is more than a beautiful setting. The Brucemore landscape is a time capsule, preserving evidence of decades past. Each of the families who lived on the estate left their mark. You can still experience the sweeping front lawn from Caroline Sinclair’s era that showcases the Mansion; the naturalistic designs of the Douglas era that create charming outdoor rooms; and the subtle, modern additions of the Halls.
The garden maintains the shape of the Douglas years and has evolved to a more exuberant, undulating, and colorful place. Vintage and heirloom plants reflect the history of the garden and enhance the ambiance. Along with the servant’s village and greenhouse, the landscape interprets a time when self-sustainability was of national importance. Landscape hikes and school tours still tell the story of gardeners and residential agriculture to thousands each year.
The landscape is one of the few remaining intact designs by renowned landscape architect O.C. Simonds. The grounds represent a time of phenomenal growth in the country’s history when westward expansion forever changed the shape and texture of the Midwest. The grounds illustrate enduring long-term benefits of a plan conceived around beauty and respect of the land.
Situated on 26 acres, Brucemore has long considered the park-like, natural surrounding one of its greatest gifts to the community.



Wapsipinicon Mill Museum
The Wapsipinicon Mill was one of the early Partner Site of Silos and Smokestacks. It has maintained his visibility because of its location in downtown Independence and next to the Wapsipinicon River. Built in 1867 it took 3 years to build the historic 6 story structure. It is one of the largest grist mills remaining in the State of Iowa. Visitors are amazed at the structure and the original milling equipment still in place. It is also listed on the local Historic Trail in Independence and listed on the Natl. Register in 1977. There are ‘hands on’ displays for young and old. You can participate in operating a hand-cranked corn sheller, grind corn on a rotary quern or primitive saddle quern or sift ground corn to make corn meal. For those not able to climb the stairs there is a DVD available on the main floor. The mill ‘offers visitors the experience of reliving pioneer grist milling”. Unique photo exhibits, interactive displays and interpretive exhibits plus numerous pioneer agricultural artifacts await you. This is a summer museum owned by the Buchanan Co. Historical Society and open mid-May thru mid-September annually open 6 afternoons a week noon-4pm. (closed Mondays). Volunteer on duty.












Fossil & Prairie Park Preserve & Center

As one of the original designated Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area sites, the Fossil & Prairie Park Preserve has been sharing their agricultural connection since 2001. The connection is as the historical site of the Rockford Brick & Tile Company. This company was well known in northeastern Iowa as the chosen source of drainage tile and bricks until the mid-1970’s. Since opening the Fossil & Prairie Center, the area welcomes 5,000 visitors annually. Staff and volunteers have worked to maintain the beehive kilns used in the production of the tiles as well as share the stories of the employees through interpretative signage and displays. Trained Center Docents welcome visitors and share their knowledge throughout the visitor season. Although the Fossil & Prairie Park Preserve may be best know for the Devonian fossils that can be collected there, it is the Rockford Brick & Tile Co. that can be credited for the accidental discovery. Spring and Fall are popular times for visitors and school groups to visit the Park to collect fossils and discover some of the local history of Park. Schools continue to make the Park a designation field trip coming from central Iowa to extreme eastern Iowa to visit.