"Really about Springdale...." West Branch by leics

West Branch Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 17 photos

Just a little page....

West Branch is famous in the USA as the birthplace of President Herbert Hoover. There is a 'National Historic Site' which includes his 'birthplace cottage', the library created from his papers and books and the gravesites of the President and his wife.

I'm afraid I have no interest whatsoever in Hoover nor in his birthplace, so I just drove through West Branch (which is pretty tiny but which I noticed had a rather magnificent brick & twiddle 'state bank' building, probably dating from the late 1800s/early 1900s.

I hadn't intende to drive through West Branch at all, but a bridge was 'out' and I had to make a rather lengthy diversion to get back to where I wanted to be. And on that diversion, as well as driving through West Branch, I cameupon the tiny settlement of Springdale which is not listed in the Vt database.

What's to see? Well, not a lot, to be honest. I stopped because I saw a brown marker for a 'national historic site' (such markers are to me like catnip to cats). It took me a while to spot what was being marked...in the end, it was just a carved stone on the site of the former 'Springdale Schools', the 'first accredited school in Iowa', dating back to 1867. Such a pity there is nothing left to see...

Springdale also has a rather nice wooden Methodist church, dating back to 1815 (though I doubt the present building is actually that old), and some lovely wooden houses-with-porches and a super barn (see main photo). And that's pretty much it.

It was only when I came to research for this page that I found out Springdale was originally a largely Quaker settlement and that is was an important stop on the Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses and secret routes used by escaping slaves in the 1800s on their way to US states where they would be free, or to Canada.

Not only that: Springdale was also the home of several militant Abolitionists.

Such a shame that aspect of its history is not clearly commemorated in some way. I'd suggest that its part in the abolition of slavery is a little more important that the presence of the first accredited school in Iowa. But there we go.

Worth a brief stop if you happen to be in the area (perhaps visiting West Branch?).

The historical marker..

The rather lovely wooden church....

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Some history, some lovely buildings.
  • Cons:Nothing much to it.
  • In a nutshell:'Underground Railroad' and first accredited school.
  • Last visit to West Branch: Aug 2012
  • Intro Updated Sep 4, 2012
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Comments (1)

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    Sep 22, 2012 at 4:48 AM

    Hoover National Historic Site dedication: 1965. Former President Eisenhower delivered the address. A ten year-old Goodfish was there. :O)

    • goodfish's Profile Photo
      Sep 22, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      O yes, I knew that. And although I've been to WB, I don't know as I've been to Springdale. I do assume you were the very first to write about this wee hamlet!

    • leics's Profile Photo
      Sep 23, 2012 at 12:24 AM

      Wouldn't be in the least surprised. I do wish they had the 'pioneer' badges they've promised, although Springdale isn't even in the database. Which is odd, given its Freedom Trail history. Perhaps I'll ask them to add it..


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