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Little House on Russell
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Our Story

Welcome to Trailside Lodging!
Let us tell you about ourselves and what we call "our project".
Our family when we began this adventure. 
Our family now, missing 3 very cute grandkids 
& their awesome mom, our daughter-in-law. 

Jim is a dentist; Nancy a community volunteer and innkeeper for 10 years now. We're both very involved in our community and church. 


In early 2004 Nancy attended community meetings where she learned of a need for lodging along the Raccoon River Valley Trail, a 56-mile-long paved recreation trail that starts in Jefferson, connects to Des Moines area metro trails, and ends in downtown Des Moines.

After a trip to Lanesboro, Minnesota for a look at their trail development projects, Nancy had the brainstorm to purchase an old building at the trailhead in Jefferson that she knew might work well for some kind of sleeping arrangements. 

Old apartments in 2005

The building she had in mind was constructed in 1889. It served first as a boarding house--most likely lodging passengers and workers on the Milwaukee Railroad's line which ran from Des Moines to Jefferson and was extended to Spirit Lake in 1891. In later years the building was used as apartments. The Milwaukee Railroad depot (now the Raccoon River Valley Trailhead) sits just across the street from the building.

After serious contemplation on Jim's part ("what am I getting into?"), we purchased the building in 2005. We had two goals: 1) improve its outward appearance to enhance trail riders' first impression of Jefferson, and 2) provide some kind of lodging on the trail.


After many more hours of demolition, brainstorming, working, and drawing than we ever anticipated (of course!), we have finished two guest rooms upstairs with private baths (antique tubs original to the building); a third guest room that uses the hall bathroom; a common room with a kitchenette, large table, and twin trundle daybed; and a hall bathroom with a shower available to any guest. We can now sleep groups of up to 10!

Fall Trail Festival 2007

Our hope is to provide lodging for trail users and other visitors to Jefferson.  We also think the facility would work well for overnight scrapbooking, quilting, family history, or other retreats.

The Little House
Some years ago we purchased a one-bedroom house for our parents to stay in when visiting.  It also underwent many hours of cleaning and refurbishing.

It wasn't too long before we were being asked to rent it out for visitors to town. We now offer it to others as additional trailside lodging.

This home still serves as the place our parents stay when in Jefferson, but there’s plenty of opportunity to share it.

We view the offering of these properties as a community service to promote Jefferson and the great things we enjoy here. This is a hobby—we have full-time jobs, civic commitments and four children! Once you get here, you’ll pretty much be on your own. But we’ll do our best to provide a very clean, comfortable place to spend the night.

Please e-mail for reservations: littlehouseonrussell@gmail.com