Corbitt's National Parks
     Herbert Hoover
                  National Historic Site


1965: National Historic Site

Size: 187 acres

2008 visitors: 142,656

Stamp: ?

Rating (1-5): Unrated

About the Site

Herbert Hoover was the 31st President of the United States. He was born in 1874 in the small town of West Branch, Iowa. His father died when he was six, and his mother died three years later. When he was 11, he took the train to Oregon to live with an uncle. He earned a degree in geology in 1893 as a member of Stanford University's first graduating class. He later worked in the California gold mines, and earned substantial wealth while working in mining and engineering projects in England, Australia, and China.

When World War I began, Hoover was in London, and was asked to organize a relief effort. It eventually helped feed millions of people in 33 countries. After the war, he served as secretary of commerce for 8 years, and in 1928, he was elected President of the U.S. by a landslide. Unfortunately for him, the stock market crash of 1929 happened nine months later and doomed his political career, as the public held him responsible. After Franklin Roosevelt defeated him in 1932, Hoover returned to California and devoted much of his time to the Hoover Institute at Stanford. He served on presidential commissions in the 1940s and 1950s to study famine relief, and the reorganization of the executive branch of the federal government. He died in 1964 and was buried on a hillside overlooking his birthplace.

What You're Going to See

This 187-acre park preserves his birthplace, a Friends Meetinghouse, and his boyhood neighborhood, the gravesite of President and Mrs. Hoover, and the Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. Hoover's father was a blacksmith, and there is a replica of a typical blacksmith shop near the Birthplace Cottage and the first schoolhouse built in the town of West Branch. 76 acres of the Site are devoted to a restored tallgrass prairie.

Downtown West Branch has fine examples of architecture dating from the early 20th century, many of which are included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Personal Observations

I haven't made it to Iowa yet. Not in real life, that is ... "Oh what the heck/you're welcome/glad to have you with us/even though we may not ever say it once again/you really ought to give Iowa a try/provided you're contrary/We can be cold as a cold thermometer in December/if you ask about our weather in July! ..."

I love that musical.

Getting There

From Cedar Rapids, take I-380 south for 20 miles to I-80. Go east through Iowa City for about 17 miles to West Branch.

Nearby Attractions

Effigy Mounds National Monument is about 95 miles to the north.

Not visited yet.