Welcome to Cresco!
Here are some area attractions in Cresco!
The Norman Borlaug Family Farm-
Hall of Fame in the Chamber Office- This has information about our five Admirals from Cresco, Ellen Churchfield the 1st stewardess, the Wrestling Hall of Fame and more. this website will give you more information on Cresco.
Kellow House Museum-
Cresco Opera House- Beautiful restoration and has been visited by ghost hunters.
The Train in Beatle Park-
Nature Center, Vernon and Nature Trail-
Statues around Cresco-
Cresco Public Library -

Narrative about Cresco
​Have you ever been to Cresco, Iowa? Well, you should. Located in northeast Iowa, Cresco offers a landscape designed for all four seasons and a variety of activities to engage all participants. Whether resident or visitor, we’ve got something for everyone! 
Tour the Boyhood Farm and Birthplace of Dr. Norman Borlaug and see why this gentle man is only one of seven people in the world to ever be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dr. Borlaug is credited with saving millions of lives by developing a hybrid of wheat that could be grown in places that previously could not.  

A must-see in Cresco is the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame. Located in the Cresco Welcome Center is the only museum dedicated to Iowa born natives who have contributed to amateur wrestling. See the likes of Dan Gable, Gold Medalist of the 1972 Olympics, and many others as you learn about Iowa’s proud sport of wrestling. An added bonus is the new IWHOF 40 foot mural dedicated to wrestling in Cresco and Iowa. This is a must-see experience!
Whether walking, biking, or nature watching, the Prairie Springs Recreation Trail (PSRT) is a 3 mile paved trail accessed from downtown Cresco at Balk Park to Vernon Springs winding along the Prairie’s Edge Nature Center next to the Turkey River. Along the trail are benches and picnic tables to stop and enjoy your moment outdoors. Breathtaking beauty and glorious displays of nature can be seen the entire length of this trail surprising the delighted recreational enthusiast with prairie grass, flowers, rolling farmland, and shaded woods that brings you back to a less complex world. But the trail doesn’t stop there! Connecting to the Prairie Springs Farmer Trail, this paved 22 mile experience traverses through an old railroad bed offering views of rich Iowa farmland along the way.

Cresco’s Fitness Trail possesses outdoor fitness equipment strategically placed along the recreation trail (PSRT) and offers a work-out for all ages and levels. Enjoy a run/walk and work-out all along the trail because this scenic experience now adds a challenge to all fitness levels! 
Cresco is home to the first stewardess in the world. Ellen Church made many contributions to aviation and one of them was to devise a pilot program to bring nurses on board the newly proposed “passenger plane” back in the 1930’s. Convincing the airlines that nurses on board would instill confidence in their passengers, they allowed Ellen to go forward with her program. It became such a success the first “Air Hostess” was born which evolved into the “Stewardess”, and today the “Flight Attendant”.  

Cresco honors distinguished veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country. Learn about the Five Admirals born and raised in Cresco, how Cresco became a designated World War II Commemorative Community, Cresco’s connection to the world’s first female General (Coral Conway Pietsch), and the next site of the Freedom Rock display honoring all our service men and women.

Have you ever seen a vintage train up close and personal? You can in Cresco. Admired and photographed by visitors, this uniquely restored 101A/Model FP7 diesel electric locomotive serves as a reminder of our community’s founding based on local rail service. Built in LaGrange, Illinois, in 1951, it was the first model ever sold to the Milwaukee Road railroad line. It was purchased in non-operating condition in 1984 by community-minded citizens. It was restored to operating condition and donated to the Cresco Park Board in 1985. Stop in at Beadle Park, Hwy 9, in Cresco to see this magnificent display.

A side note to Cresco’s connections to trains: The Milwaukee Road held a contest for elementary classes located along its railroad to name their new passenger streamline (The old passenger name was the Olympian). In 1934, the 8th grade class from St. Joseph Catholic School in Cresco entered the name Hiawatha. Cresco won the contest and the new passenger streamline was named the Olympian Hiawatha. The railroad brought the new streamline to Cresco for 45 minutes in the spring of 1936. All the classes went to the station to be photographed with the new passenger streamliner; the Olympian Hiawatha. Mary Ann Billmyer, Cresco resident, was in that 8th grade class in 1934 and helped come up with the winning name.

To raise community and visitor awareness to a form of art not often seen outside museums and galleries, Cresco is dotted with over 45 sculptures of children featured outside of historic buildings and landscapes. This is a great walking tour of a picturesque town in northeast Iowa that residents and visitors alike enjoy all year round! 

Take a walk (and maybe a fishing pole) on Iowa’s first Rock Arch Rapids. This innovative fish ladder replaced a 150 year old spill-water dam reconnecting hundreds of miles of river habitat. Over 280 feet of pools and rapids showcase this stunning new recreation area and is located at the end of the Prairie Springs Recreational Trail. While you are there, leave enough time to tour the Prairie’s Edge Nature Center and check out the newly renovated and spectacular displays of wildlife and plants native to our area. Next door is the ever-popular Turkey River Campground enjoyed throughout the camping season. or 563.547.3634.

Have you ever been to a bio-secure Ag Education Center? Probably not because Cresco has the first of its kind in the nation. Experience baby pigs from birth to market as area youth learn valuable lessons raising animals. The Center features a swine, dairy, and sheep facility with state-of-the-art technology, innovative practices promoting agriculture in Iowa, and an air quality purification system designed to be environmentally and community friendly.

Are museums your thing? Cresco’s got just what you are looking for. Take a tour of the Historical Museum at the Howard County Fairgrounds featuring a Civil War era flag, original marquee and memorabilia from Lyric Hall, precedent to the current Opera House & Theatre, military and agricultural displays reflecting our rich heritage, and an original pump organ that still works. The Kellow House built in 1880 is a fine example of a Second Empire style home. Enjoy the subtle grace of its period furnishings, several are Kellow family heirlooms. Fun for all ages, tour the Log Cabin in Beadle Park located on north side of Hwy 9. Occupied continuously from 1854 to 1964, this cabin features original hand-hewn logs, and is furnished with early artifacts. Feel what it was like to live in this two room cabin donated to the Howard County Historical Society by Mr/Mrs Don Carolan. To set up tours call 563.547.3434.

Local food is abundant in Cresco and Howard County. Every city in Howard County has a Farmers Market throughout the week. Search for the latest market information as well as the numerous greenhouses available to visit.

All towns have old buildings. Cresco is no different, but what is unique is that Cresco has two, hundred-year-old buildings still being used as they were intended. The Cresco Public Library, built in 1914 at the cost of $17,500 as a gift from the Carnegie Foundation is still being used as a library today. The Cresco Opera House & Theatre, also built in 1914, was built to showcase live performances and movies. Recent improvements are a source of pride in Cresco.  The marquee is restored to its original look with LED lighting, a new state-of-the-art projector offers 2-D and 3-D movies, and the spectacular interior will take your breath away! Entertainment at the Opera House & Theatre is an experience you won’t want to miss.

Cresco is a great destination whether you come for a day, a week, or a lifetime. Take in the numerous shopping and dining opportunities and stay in one of our Bed and Breakfasts or hotels. Need more exercise time? The Cresco Fitness Center offers activities almost every day of the year including a zero-entry swimming pool and large hot tub. Unique businesses; Featherlite, Inc., Donaldson Company, Plantpeddler, Alum-line, and Hometown Shopko give Cresco the ‘big town’ feel with a small town appeal. Apple Computers has named the local school district a ‘District of Distinction’ and its students from Kindergarten through 12th grade enjoy their own iPad or laptop. Cresco’s local hospital recently completed a $16 million upgrade and expansion and serves all needs of the community.
Wrapped in a kaleidoscope of color, Howard County is becoming a showcase of Barn Quilts! On your way to work or taking a leisurely drive, you’ll be sure to spot a unique quilt along the way. Howard County ISU Extension wanted to emphasize the historic role of barns and quilts while benefiting the county economy. As with all good ideas, now you’ll find individuals throughout the county who have taken this project and started their own small business making barn quilts. Community partnerships, tourism, and entrepreneurship go hand-in-hand in Howard County!

Stop by the Cresco Welcome Center, 101 2nd Ave SW, Cresco IA 52136, call us at 563.547.3434, find us on the web at, or search Cresco and Howard County on facebook for more information on the rich heritage and history of the Cresco area. See you soon!