Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973, the Historic Jordan House is an official site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The 1850s Victorian located in West Des Moines is one of five preserved underground railroad stops in Iowa. The Jordan House’s 16 rooms tell the history of its builder, James C. Jordan, one of Iowa’s earliest settlers. In addition to raising cattle, Jordan was an influential business and civic leader. He served on the Polk Country Board of Supervisors and was elected to both the Iowa Senate and the House of Representatives.
During his tenure in the legislature, Jordan led the drive to relocate Iowa’s State Capitol from Iowa City to Des Moines. Jordan was also instrumental in bringing the railroad to the Des Moines area spurring investment and commerce in what is now Historic Valley Junction. Jordan was a staunch abolitionist, and the Jordan House was a designated stopover on the Underground Railroad. Freedom seeking slaves hid in the fields, barns, and outbuildings on the property. Jordan was regarded as the “chief conductor” for Polk County. Today, the house serves as both a museum for West Des Moines and as the home of the West Des Moines Historical Society.
Visitors will enjoy exploring the Underground Railroad Exhibit and viewing the many artifacts from the railroad, which played an important role in the early years of West Des Moines.
Tours are offered on Fridays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.