The site was organized in 1904 and opened in 1974. Its beautiful covered bridges and other symbols of another era attracts tens of thousands of visitors every October for an annual festival.
As for the pioneers who settled here, this location was perfectly ideal for the planting and harvesting cycle. The complex consists of twelve local historical buildings representing the Madison County area, including the Winterset train depot, post office, log school, the Bevington-Kaiser mansion and more.
Winterset, Iowa is perhaps most famous for being the birthplace of John Wayne, and there is a simple structure near the square representing his childhood home, an important stop for visitors to Madison County. Each of these buildings, with its unique place in Madison County history, has been restored and contains authentic representation of historic pieces.
There is also a beautiful barn in the square built in 1982, made of natural limestone and wood and home to the museum's animals.