Overlooking the Mississippi River, Chief Keokuk, for whom the town is named, is honored by a monument in Rand Park. Keokuk has preserved its history by converting the old swing-span bridge to an observation deck. Visitors are invited to a birds eye view of the Mississippi and Lock and Dam 19 and the hydroelectric plant, built in 1913, an engineering marvel of its time. The George M. Verity Riverboat Museum, on the riverfront, provides history buffs a return to steamboat days of times past. The Miller House Museum houses a rich collection of photos, furnishings, and objets dart that focus on the lifestyles of area ancestors. The most obvious record of Keokuks past is in the magnificent homes perched on the bluffs high above the river. Even today, each facade reflects signs of the refined wealth that was so evident in the last half of the 19th century. A walking tour brochure of these homes and other significant buildings is available.
Great River Players, a community theater group, presents live theater at the renovated Grand Theatre. This 1924 "hemp house" is one the few remaining theaters of its type, and is also home to concerts from the Keokuk Concert Association and McNamaras Band, dance recitals, and special musical entertainment throughout the year. The Keokuk Art Center in Keosippi Mall offers monthly exhibits by area artists, and has a fine permanent collection as well. Keokuks National Cemetery, the first West of the Mississippi River, is still the only one in Iowa.
Annual Events & Festivals
Bald Eagle Appreciation Days begins the yearly calendar in January. April marks the now famous Civil War Reenactment of the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, featuring Keokuks Civil War hero Samuel Curtis. Rollin on the River is a summer blues festival that attracts big name R&B talent from across the country. The summer months also see a Bluegrass festival in August and the gathering of one of the largest airplane conventions in the Midwest the L Birds or Bird Dogs and Wings Over the World competition. The year ends in December with the City of Christmas display of lights in Rand Park.
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