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Town Information

Established in 1901 * population 650
"The Heart of Dane Country"

Click here to see Town Brochure


In Shelby County, Iowa, located at the intersection of County Road F58 and Hwy 173 - only six miles north of U.S. Interstate 80, Exit 54. In the heart of southwest Iowa's picturesque countryside. "Velkommen" to our community. We invite you to visit for an experience of real Danish Hospitality as you learn more about our proud heritage.

Utility & Telecommunication Providers

Water: Municipal.
Gas: MidAmerican Energy Company.
Electricity: MidAmerican Energy Company.
Telephone service: Marne-Elk Horn Telephone Company (METC) provides local telephone service to Elk Horn, Kimballton, Marne, and Brayton, with over 1,500 access lines. All exchanges are the latest digital switches with Signaling System 7 and class services (caller identification-name and number, call waiting, call forwarding, etc.). They are a member of INS (Iowa Network Services) providing state-of-the-art telecommunications services over a fiber optic network. Other services offered include cellular, paging, calling cards and 800 numbers. You can call METC at 712-764-6161.
Cable TV: Marne-Elk Horn Telephone Co. provides a 61-channel cable television system.
Internet: Marne-Elk Horn Telephone Co. is the local Internet Service Provider.
Cellular Service: CommNet, Cellular One & Air Touch.

Municipal Services

Council/Mayor government
Comprehensive city plan: yes
City zoning ordinance in effect: yes
County zoning ordinance in effect: yes
Subdivision ordinance with design standards in effect: yes
Number of volunteer fire department personal: 21
Fire insurance class in city: 8
Fire insurance class outside city: 9
Police protection: Shelby County Sheriff's Department.
Industrial waste pickup service: yes
Percentage of city streets hard surfaced 100%


The Elk Horn-Kimballton School has experienced yearly growth over the past eight years and presently serves 330 youth, plus a preschool. The district enjoys very solid support from its parents and community which help it provide a safe and secure environment. The district is currently emphasizing technology which has resulted in three computer labs, at least one computer in every classroom, an ICN site and networking throughout the building. School facilities are outstanding and the financial status of the district is sound.   712-764-4616

Business & Industry

Salem Lutheran Home - a 156-bed group home, with 56 beds devoted to residential, 10 devoted to skilled care, 10 devoted to Alzheimer care and 80 for nursing beds. This facility provides a continuum of care for the elderly of Elk Horn and the surrounding area. Salem Lutheran Homes offers residential, intermediate, and skilled care, along with a specialized Alzheimer's unit. Salem Lutheran Home is also the City's second largest employer, offering an excellent benefit package for employees and the community.  712-764-4201
Housing - the City's only major multiple housing unit is the Elk Horn Development Corporation facility on Union Street. The three building facility features 12 two-bedroom rental units.
Other Services:  - veterinarian, pharmacist, lawyers and  G. E. Larson Medical Center with a Physicians Assistant, restaurants, bakery, and a grocery store featuring Danish delicacies for everyone and typical handicrafts abound in homes and shops.


Elk Horn Lutheran Church, First Baptist Church, Antioch Baptist Church - All denominations within 14 miles.



VikingHjem, a 900 A.D. Viking Smithy’s Home,
in Elk Horn, the newest attraction on the Mill grounds.  The VikingHjem will be alive with activity, and will be an interactive experience for all its visitors.  From the blacksmith shop and woodworking area of our Hjem, we can have demonstrations and lectures, as well as its attached living space, show the interior area as it would have appeared in the Viking Age.



Danish MuseumThe Danish Immigrant Museum
An International Cultural Center
Self-guiding exhibits tell Museum visitors the story of the journey and the experience of the Danish immigrant, from his decision to leave, to his establishing new homes, schools and churches in America.  You will also see the first piano of the famous Danish Immigrant, Victor Borge, the tiny church, The Morning Star Chapel, The Danish Immigrant Wall of Honor, and the
Family History and Genealogy Center.


Bedstemor's Hus


Bedstemor's Hus
The Charming Historic home known as Bedstemor's Hus (Bedstemor is Danish for grandmother) is owned and operated by The Danish Immigrant Museum.  It is completely furnished to the period between 1910 and 1920 when young Danish American families lived there.  Open for tours May through September.



Danish Countryside Vines & WinesDanish Country Side Vines & Wines
Located among the rolling hills of western Iowa near the Danish communities of Elk Horn and Kimballton. We invite you to come to visit us at our farm. The winery is a completely renovated European style barn where we master creating our fine wines. We offer tours of the winery and vineyard while sharing with you the process of making wine and explaining vitaculture practices. Concluding the tour we invite you to taste a selection of our wines. We have a balcony that overlooks the vineyard or a spacious patio where you can relax and enjoy a glass or a bottle of your favorite wine. Browse our gift shop that is filled with unique gift items. We have a party room available for meetings and parties celebrating a wedding, anniversary, birthday, reunion, holiday events or any other occassion.

Tivoli Fest

Elk Horn's Danish Celebration is held each Memorial Day weekend. Enjoy Danish foods and specialties such as Smørbrød, æbelskiver and medisterpølse. Tours of the Danish Windmill, Bedstemor's, the Danish Immigrant Museum and visits to unique gift shops add to the experience. There is a parade, Danish folk dancers, an entertainment stage, fireworks and much more. For more information call: 800-451-7960.


Julefest is held annually over Thanksgiving weekend. This is a fun-filled Christmas festival with over 25 local businesses, organizations, historical sites and museums. Visit the unique gift shops, large Christmas Boutique and more! For more information call: 800-451-7960.

Tourism Spending Impact

2009 Tourist Attendance 64,891
Average Travel Party Size 2.7
Persons Average Spending Per Day $192.77
Estimated Total Spending $4.1 Million Dolllars

Tourism Services

Dining Establishments: 4
Motel with Indoor Pool 31 rooms
Specialty Shops: 6
Historical Museums & Sites: 4
Community Swimming Pool & Park 1, 5 acre park
R.V. Park: 2

Bragging Rights

Elk Horn is the largest rural Danish settlement in the U.S. The community was settled by early Danish immigrants with many of the small homes done in Danish architecture. Many of the Danish customs are still followed in the homes. The Danish Windmill received Iowa's top tourism attraction for 1990 and the Danish Immigrant Museum received the same honor in 1994. The small town of Elk Horn is very neatly kept with well manicured lawns in which you will see many miniature windmills. Everyone is proud of the Danish heritage and when you visit you will experience the friendliness of this Danish community.


The town was incorporated in 1910 and became the center of Danish immigration in the middle of the 19th century when the homeland became crowded and living conditions more difficult. The first major undertaking of the Elk Horn Danes was a folk school for the education of Danish immigrants and settlers. This school was the first of this kind in America and was followed by a Lutheran church and later a Baptist church. Another mutual project was the organization of the Danish Mutual Fire Insurance Association.  From a small beginning the company has grown to one of Iowa's largest Mutuals.


Keep the Mill Turning Donation Link

Contact Info |

The Danish Windmill

P.O. Box 245, 4038 Main
Elk Horn, Iowa 51531
(712) 764-7472