Froelich 1890s Village Museum & First Tractor Invention

The village of Froelich, Iowa came into existence after two childhood friends from Germany came to this area. The Mississippi River played an important part of this story.

Friend Herman Schneider came to America to avoid being drafted into the German Army at age 17. He became a blacksmith and gunsmith traveling often from Fort Crawford at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin across the great Mississippi River continuing West along the “Military Trail” to Fort Atkinson in Iowa. On these journeys he found an area in what is now known as Giard township to create a homestead for he & his wife, Margaret. Many letters were sent back home to his good friend, Henry Froelich, inviting friends and relatives to come here to live with Herman. Henry and a group of 27 others spent 3 months on a ship, finally landing at MacGregor’s landing on June 6, 1847. They settled in with Herman Schneider until each person was able to find their own place to live.

Henry Froelich settled just west of what became known as the village of Froelich named after him. He and his wife Kathryn had nine children. Their eldest son was John. John Froelich invented the very first successful gasoline tractor able to propel itself both forward and backward in 1892. This tractor was far-reaching in its effect on modern agricultural history, as it moved out of this village and into the World that year. By early 1893, Mr. Froelich joined with others in organizing the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company which in 1918 was purchased by the John Deere Tractor Company.

The Froelich Foundation for the Preservation of Farm Tractor History, Inc was formed in 1986. We are a nonprofit organization and Museum. Our Museum site is an 1890’s historical village sharing this fine history during our guided tours of our multi-building village museum site. Our tours include: The 1891 Iron Clad General Store, 1866 One Room Schoolhouse, 1920’s Freight Warehouse, Blacksmith Shop, Railroad Depot and train cars, 1903 Vintage Barn, and the Froelich Tractor Replica’s. Original buildings, relics and artifacts are included in our hands-on, family friendly oriented tours. Our site is all about catering to our tour guests, whether they are very young or just young at heart.

This is a “one-of-a-kind” historical village museum enjoyed by many from throughout the United States and many other countries each year!

Read more


Latitude: 43.006707 Longitude: -91.321605 Elevation: 1020 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Denise Schutte

Seasons Open

Second weekend in May through September. Also the first two weekends in October.

Hours Open

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10am – 5pm. Sundays: 11am – 5pm.


$5: 13yrs –Adult, $1: Kids 6-12 yrs, Free: 5 yrs and under.

Accessibility Notes

Handicap accessible.

Pet Friendly Notes

Dogs must be on a leash.


What a delightful guided tour of this 1890s Village Museum site home to the invention of the very first gasoline tractor able to propel itself forward & backward invented in 1892 by John Froelich. It became the forerunner of John Deere. Our group toured the 1891 Iron Clad General Store & Post Office, saw a very informative dvd of the history of this village and this invention, viewed the exhibit of the half scale replica of the Froelich tractor as our guide explained all about this tractor's invention. We then went on to the 1920's Freight Warehouse. It was full of many artifacts of that time. Our guide shared so many historical and interesting facts of this building. Then we toured the 1866 One-Room Schoolhouse set up just as it was from so long ago. We even rang the school bell. The Blacksmith shop was our next stop. There is a three-quarter scale replica of John Froelich's tractor here, blacksmiths forges and more. We viewed the monument created in 1939 in memory of John Froelich's tractor invention. Then on to the re-built Train Depot and all that history we learned about. Our next visit was to the Cowell semi transportation building. The kids really enjoyed sitting inside the half, quarter, and eighth scale semi tractor trailers display. Our final building we toured was the 1903 Barn. It used to be a dairy barn, but now is used as an event center. In the barn hay loft area, they have a dance area and have many other displays and exhibits from the early 1890s - 1900s. They told us they have had many weddings here in the loft. It is hard to believe how much there was to see here and all the guides shared with us during our tour. It is worth stopping for a tour here! Our guides were so friendly! The said they have a FallderAll here each year. So we were able to find time to come for this the last weekend in Sept. We had a great time last fall for that weekend. They had many oldtime demonstrations and exhibits. They had so many older tractors, engines, threshing and stuff. The kids enjoyed the kids games and fun area and the kids peddle pull. And the food was so good. We'll try to come back again next year if we can fit it in our schedule. This is a good family place.

Bonnie Pape and family, 12/19/2015

Wow! I love history like this! I am anxious to visit!

Tammy Norman, 12/27/2015

A wonderful historic site. Amazing what has been accomplished with limited staff, dedicated volunteers and committed members!

Neill Heitmann, 1/8/2016

It is a very well preserved slice of history. My grandfather Harrison Klotzbach, Father H. Barton Klotzbach and late Aunt Barbara Dickson have all lived there. Jim Cowell was a good friend and very talented person. He was my cousin Joi's husband. Joi and our friend Mary have also lived in Froelich. Thanks to all who have preserved and promoted Froelich.

Jeffrey Klotzbach, 1/18/2016

awedome ~ we really need to preserve all the history we can!

pat gilbreath, 1/19/2016

I've spent a lot of time in Froelich and visited the museum countless times since it opened. I enjoy seeing the history (often of my own family) but I always find something new to enjoy. It is a great place to just take a step back in time and take it easy. If you're in the area, it's worth the stop.

Jennifer Klotzbach, 1/27/2016

Leave a Comment