Red Oak, a vibrant community in southwest Iowa, is a great place to visit for a day or stay for a lifetime.
With tree-lined streets, historic architecture, an outstanding museum that draws thousands of people each year from around the world, unique dining and shopping opportunities, delightful parks, wonderful festivals, Red Oak also offers a progressive business environment with strong tradition of growing industry and worthwhile projects.
Red Oak is the county seat of Montgomery County nestled on the Nishnabotna River and boasts a special brand of friendliness and hospitality, a low crime rate, world-class entertainment and culture, quality medical care, year-round recreation, and great educational opportunities from pre-school through community college.
Those are just a few of the things that make Red Oak “a shade better.” We invite you to come for a day or to make this your home.
Red Oak has a rich historical past!
Red Oak was first home to Native Americans whose story here goes back more than 10,000 years.
The earliest white settlers arrived in the early 1850s and the area grew slowly, becoming the county seat in 1865 when Montgomery County was initially formed. By 1868, there were only about 50 homes here. But the pace of growth changed in 1869 when the Chicago, Burlington and Pacific railroad line came through. That same year, the town of Red Oak Junction was officially organized (the “Junction” was dropped in 1901).
The arrival of the railroad fostered an influx of wealth, and over the next decade, the town became the trading center for the entire region; new industries sprang up, including a meat packing plant, a brewery, a cannery, flour-mills and a brick and tile works. Near the turn of the century, the height of the town’s initial prosperity, several fine community buildings, including the Montgomery County Courthouse, were constructed.
Newly wealthy merchants, as well as railroad officials, built many splendid homes on Red Oak’s east side. Many of them stand today as the Heritage Hill Home tour; several are on the National Historic Register.
Much more information about the community’s history is displayed at the Montgomery County History Center, featuring permanent and revolving exhibits as well as the 1853 Stipe Log House, the 1866 Cozad Cabin, the 1870’s Pittsburg country school, and the 1884 Nims Barn and Corn Crib.
The Restored Depot and WWII Memorial Museum also offers a deep dive into another part of the area’s history.
Wondering what to do in Red Oak, Iowa?
There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself throughout the region.
From golf to tennis, hiking to hunting, our area’s lakes and rivers, playgrounds and parks as well as unspoiled natural areas, offer boundless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
Eleven city parks provide green and recreational space in Red Oak. Fountain Square Park is especially meaningful to area residents, as it is the home of memorials for Red Oak’s veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Fittingly, the park is also the site for several festivals and special events where Red Oak residents and visitors can enjoy the wonderful life and freedom for which the City’s sons and daughters fought so hard.
Fun and fitness are found year-round at the Montgomery County Family YMCA, which offers facilities and programs for all ages and fitness levels. It is available to visitors as well as members.
Performances, cultural activities and displays are available at the Wilson Performing Arts Center, a 23,000square-foot state-of-the-art facility opened in 2009 with a 256-seat auditorium and an art gallery featuring local visual artists.
The Red Oak Grand Theatre, Red Oak Country Club, Viking Lake State Park and the Red Oak Library round out some of the available places for family fun and relaxation.