Matsell Bridge Natural Area

Historic Visits at Matsell Bridge Natural Area

The first acquisition of public land occurred at Matsell Bridge in 1956 by the Iowa Conservation Commission, but this part of Linn County has a rich history dating backs hundreds if not thousands of years. Matsell Bridge is named for George W. Matsell, the New York City Chief of Police from 1845-1857. Legend has it that Matsell befriended some American Indians visiting New York City. They appreciated his kindness and invited him to visit them in Iowa. When he arrived, Matsell fell in love with the land and eventually built a mansion near the present day equestrian camping area. Matsell fashioned his home after George Washington's Mount Vernon home that overlooks the Potomac River. At one time, his land holdings in this area topped 3,000 acres. Additional buildings were added to the farmstead until there were a total of 11 buildings including livestock barns, grain storage, a gate keepers house, and an ice house. Over time, the buildings fell into a state of disrepair and were razed. Today, the only thing remaining of the large estate is the ice house, and the main entry gates.


3745 Matsell Park Rd, Central City
The ice house is located in the equestrian camping area while the main entry gates are located along the roadway by the maintenance shop.


4 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. daily. Roads may be closed during periods of winter/spring thaw when conditions are soft.