Top Things to Do in Algona, Iowa

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Located in the northwest quadrant of Iowa, the city of Algona is a perfect blend of undulating heavily wooded hills, fertile farmland, meandering river and unique history. It is also home to a distinctive holiday attraction that was born out of a soldier’s desperation and longing.

Camp Algona P.O.W. Museum 

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Camp Algona P.O.W. Museum – image by

Beginning in April 1944 through February 1946, Algona was the site of a large Prisoners of War camp that housed both German and Italian soldiers.

The 14,000 square foot “Camp Algona P.O.W. Museum” pays tribute to the 10,000 men and women who were prisoners as well as those Americans that worked within the prison walls.

An exhibit in the museum – image by

The museum’s permanent exhibits are; “German P.O.W.s in America: “The Camp Algona Experience”, “You Must Remember This”, “Cultural Expressions behind Barbed Wire”, and the “Algona Experiences WW2.”

The “Cultural Expressions behind Barbed Wire” exhibit is a remarkable expression of the resilience of the human spirit. It contains countless original pieces of art, woodworking, theater productions and writings that were completed by the German and Italian prisoners. The craftsmanship in the pieces is exquisite.

Top Things to Do in Algona, Iowa
Exhibit in the museum – image by

Part of the notable creations that came from that dark period is the “Algona Nativity Display” which is now cared for by the “First United Methodist Men’s Club of Algona.”

As of now the “Camp Algona P.O.W. Museum” is open during the months of April through December on Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm. The museum is closed during the week as well as the entire months of January through March. Admission is $3.00 per person for those over age 10. Children under 10 years of age are admitted free.

“Camp Algona P.O.W. Museum” is open during the months of April through December on Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm – image by

Camp Algona P.O.W. Museum
114 S. Thorington Street
Algona, IA 50511

Algona Nativity Scene 

Created out of a German prisoner’s desperation and longing for home, the “Algona Nativity Scene” is a remarkable piece of art.

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Algona Nativity Scene – image by

The nativity scene, consisting of 60 one-half life sized realistic figurines was constructed by Eduard Kaib and five of his countrymen back in winter 1945.

Originally an architect by trade, Kaib found himself imprisoned at Algona shortly after the fall of 1944. As the Christmas holidays approached he became so homesick that he fashioned a small nativity scene out of the dirt found in the prison yard. He lovingly sculpted the soil figures and baked them in the oven until they hardened.

Algona Nativity KK
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Once the mini-figures were complete they caught the eye of then Camp Commander Arthur Lobdell. Commander Lobdell, so enamored by the display, later met with prisoner Kaib and asked him to create a large scale version of the pieces.

Kaib, along with several of his countrymen, obliged Lobdell’s request constructing the nearly life sized figurines out of wire encased with concrete and finished with plaster. The plaster finish was then hard carved to a state of realism that is awe inspiring.

Commander Lobdell placed the finished figures in a display located just west of the camp so that all of Algona’s residents could view the pieces.

When the war ended Kaib donated the figurines to Algona and then returned to Bielefield, Germany where he later passed away in May 1988.

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The prisoner’s nativity display is available for viewing at the Kossuth County Fairground beginning the first Sunday in December and running through New Year’s Eve. During that time period it is open Monday through Saturday from 2:00 pm until 9:00 pm and on Sundays and Christmas Day from Noon until 9:00 pm.

It is also available for viewing by appointment. Those wishing to make an appointment to see the display should call the First United Methodist church’s office at 515-295-7241.

Algona Nativity Scene
206 N. Roan Street
Algona, IA 50511

Lake Smith and the Water’s Edge Nature Center 

Lake Smith – image by

Nestled within the 144 acres of the “Lake Smith Wildlife Area” is “Lake Smith” and the new “Water’s Edge Nature Center.”

The “Water’s Edge Nature Center” overlooks the lake and features self-guided educational displays, wildlife viewing observation areas, and hiking trails. There are also opportunities for swimming and fishing in “Lake Smith” itself.

The center’s hours of operation vary so it is best to call in advance of one’s trip to avoid disappointments.

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Lake Smith and the Water’s Edge Nature Center
1010 250th Street
Algona, IA 50511

Ambrose A. Call State Park 

Top Things to Do in Algona, Iowa
Ambrose A. Call State Park  – image by

The “Ambrose A. Call State Park” is situated 1.5 miles southwest of Algona. Governed by Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources, this 138 acre park features a log cabin style lodge built circa 1928, an authentic Elm homesteaders log cabin, 16 campsites (3 primitive, 13 with electric hook-ups), modern public restrooms, and two miles of rugged, heavily wooded hiking trails.

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Those wishing to learn more about “Ambrose A. Call State Park” should contact the Iowa Department of Natural Resources via phone or on-line.

Ambrose A. Call State Park
Route 1 Box 264
Algona, IA 50511

Additional Information
Those would-be visitors who would like more information on Algona, Iowa should log onto the town’s tourism website.


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