Exploring Herbert Hoover NHS | Presidential History for Kids

If you travel the highways across America, you can’t miss the iconic brown National Park signs. This is due to the NPS overseeing 423 sites. As we traveled I-80 towards Yellowstone, N.P., we came across the signs for the Herbert Hoover NHS. Many of our National Park visits have been related to presidential history, so we couldn’t resist stopping.

Photo Courtesy of NPS
Photo Courtesy of NPS

How to Get There 

Take exit 254 off Interstate 80 to West Branch, Iowa. The Visitor Center is 0.3 miles north of Interstate 80. If you are traveling I80, this is an easy, quick stop.

Herbert Hoover NHS

In 1874, Herbert Hoover was born in West Branch, Iowa. This NHS helps protect the small cottage he was born in. Hoover only lived in the cabin for the first three years of his life. After leaving, he never returned to live there again. However,  in 1935, Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry, purchased and restored the old cabin.

At this location, you will find three different places. You will find the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site (free), the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library (free), and the Herbert Hoover Museum (small fee required).

Admittedly, none of us knew a tremendous amount about President Hoover. Thankfully, this site is very kid-friendly and easily accessible. After only spending a few hours here, we learned about the 31st President of the United States.

Things to Do and See

National Park Service Visitor Center 

National Parks for Beginners

As with any National Park Service site, we recommend starting at the Visitor Center. 

Here, you can Pick up the official National Park map and guide, stamp your Passport, and find the activity books to become Junior Rangers. 

Although a relatively small visitor center, it was highly kid-friendly. Therefore, we were very impressed with how much it catered to kids, even though it was small. In addition, the Park Ranger on duty that day took some extra time to explain a few things we would have missed on our own. 

Take the Self Guided Tour

The visitor center offers information for the self-guided tour. In addition, there is an app you can download. There are several stops that are well worth the time. 

Gravesite of President Hoover
Gravesite of President Hoover

Herbert and Lou Hoover Gravesite

When he died on October 20, 1964, the 31st President was laid to rest in this quiet, grassy hillside. His wife was Lou’s gravesite right next to his. It’s hard to describe this spot fully. It is an extensive area with a wall of arborvitaes and smaller bushes. The graves are two large marble slabs, and a flagpole stands in the courtyard’s center.

Birthplace Cottage

Herbert and his wife Lou helped restore the president’s birthplace. Hoover referred to it as proof of the opportunities of American life. The cottage is a typical late 19th-century home. In addition, the furnishings represent everyday household items of a rural Iowa home.

Blacksmith Shop

Hoover’s father, Jesse, owned and operated a blacksmith shop from 1871 to 1878. However, the on-site blacksmith shop was built in 1957. It is based on sketches from Herbert’s older brother.

Herbert Hoover NHS

The Statue of Isis

This bronze statue was a gift from the people of Belgium. It was given in honor of  Hoover’s famine relief efforts during the First World War.

In the sculpture, Isis is wearing a veil. This is a symbol of the mysteries of life. In her right hand is the torch of life. The three flames represent the past, present, and future. In her left hand is the key of life. The ancient Egyptian goddess and the 31st American President are an unlikely pairing. However, it provides a powerful link between Hoover’s childhood and his life’s dedication to the welfare of others.

Participate in the Junior Ranger Program

This program is necessary when visiting the National Park Service site with kids. You can learn more about this great program on our Junior Ranger Program post. 

Be sure to get your Jr. Ranger book at the visitor center. In addition, you can download it on the Herbert Hoover NHS website. 

This activity booklet will help you explore the entire NHS. In addition, you will learn all about Herbert Hoover’s life and his contributions to the Country. 

The NPS makes learning Presidnertail history an enjoyable experience. This was the first Presidential site we visited. We have since seen seven different sites related to Abraham Lincoln: the monuments on the National Mall, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and the Adams National Historical Park.

Our Experience at the Herbert Hoover NHS

This was an unplanned stop as we traveled west on our cross-country trip to Yellowstone. 

We were driving along I80 and looking for a place to take a break for lunch. As we were planning to stop, we saw the famous brown NPS signs leading us to the Herbert Hoover location.  

Our stop here was quick, but well with the visit. The Park Rangers were great, and we learned plenty about President Hoover and the small Iowa town he grew up in. 

We love to hear from our followers. Please leave a comment below. 

Have you visited any Presidential sites? Do you have a favorite Presidential historical site you would recommend? Have you visited Herbert Hoover NHS?

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About Us

We are a  family of four who travels all around the country in a small RV.

So far we have RV camped in 33 different States, visited 14 National Parks, and 17 National Park Sites. 

Being self-proclaimed National Park Geeks we are on a mission to see as many as possible!  

We hope our blog will inspire other families to spend time together, and create lifelong memories. 

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