Hardin County, Iowa (population 17,000), is located in the north central part of the state within the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area. The Iowa River bisects the county from northwest to southeast and offers some of the most beautiful river views found in the state.
Hardin County has been inhabited by humans for over 10,000 years. White settlers first came to the Iowa River valley starting in the early 1850s, and the county was fully settled by the 1880s.
Massive limestone bluffs line the river through Iowa Falls, the largest community in Hardin County. Eldora, the county seat and second largest community, has a magnificent courthouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The county is home to around 800 farms and some of the most fertile farmland in the nation. Hardin County raises millions of head of livestock annually and is at the epicenter of renewable energy efforts, with two large ethanol refineries and the nation's largest bio-diesel refining facility.
The Hardin County Historic Preservation Commission recently completed a four-year rehabilitation project on the National Register-listed ‘Slayton Farms Round Barn,’ which is used today for heritage education and is a tourism attraction. The Scenic City Empress, a riverboat company in Iowa Falls, also offers several one-day heritage motor coach tours that feature properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hardin County contains a number of archaeological sites; the most notable being the Folkert Mound Group, which has been nominated for the National Register.
Designated a Preserve America Community in January 2008.