The City of Keokuk is proud of its heritage as part of the United States frontier. Every year, eagles grace the skies above the Port of Keokuk, and the majestic Mississippi lends both history and natural scenery to the mix. The Port of Keokuk's history includes the romantic settlement of the American West, the tragedy of the American Civil War, and the promise of the industrial age.
The Port of Keokuk has a humid continental climate with big temperature differences between seasons. The Port of Keokuk has warm to hot summers and sometimes severely cold winters. Temperatures range from an average high of 31°C (87°F) in July to an average low of -9°C (15°F) in January. Snowfall comes from November through February, with a total of about 17 inches each year. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, but the greatest average precipitation comes from April through October.
For a trip into the bygone era of river steamboats, the George M. Verity River Museum on the riverfront in Victory Park is one of the Port of Keokuk's most popular attractions. Open from Memorial Day through Labor Day each year, the Museum features a steamboat first built by the U.S. Government in 1927 to move barges from St. Louis to St. Paul. Also created to revive river transportation, the steamboat was purchased by the Armco Steel Corporation in 1940 and used on the Ohio River until 1961 when it was donated to the Port of Keokuk. Today, it is a museum that tells the story of the early Upper Mississippi River and the charm of Mark Twain's romantic visions of life on the river.
The Lee County Historical Society operates the Samuel F. Miller House and Museum in the Port of Keokuk. Miller was appointed by Abraham Lincoln to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1862, serving in that role until he passed away in 1890. He built the house in 1859 for $13 thousand. Open in the afternoon from Memorial Day through Labor Day, the three-story 12-room brick house is maintained as it was. The kitchen has a cast iron stove and pre-electricity tools like carpet beaters and a churn. The house has a period dentist's suite and a collection of turn-of-the-century medical instruments. The parlor has a square grand piano and a pump organ. The Lawyer's study honors Miller and his profession, and it contains a revolving bookcase. The nursery exhibits toys of the era. The Miller House is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Port of Keokuk's Grand Theatre is a living piece of history. Before it was a theater, it was the Keokuk Opera House. Built for $30 thousand in 1880, it was considered the most pretentious building in the Port of Keokuk. It contains one of the biggest stages in the west; however, live stage productions dwindled after the advent of talking pictures. Today, the Grand Theatre has been restored to its original grandeur. It is a performing arts center for the Port of Keokuk and is used for live performances, conventions, and private events. Tours of the theatre are available.
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