Dows had its start in the year 1880 by the building of the railroad through that territory. Dows is named for a railroad contractor.
The Dows Historical Society and community volunteers have restored several historical buildings, three of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Rock Island Depot in Dows was built in 1896. The historical society purchased and restored the depot in 1988 that houses an Iowa Welcome Center and historical railroad and community memorabilia. The Quasdorf Blacksmith and Wagon Museum was built in 1899 and was restored in 1990. This is one of the best equipped blacksmith shops in the Midwest. The Fillmore Building, a large cornerstone building on the south side of Main Street, was built in 1894 and has housed many businesses over the years. In 1987 the building was purchased by the historical society and restored. In 1989, the Dows Mercantile and Crème de la Crème were opened in the building. The Dows Mercantile is an antique mall covering three floors. The Crème de la Crème is a sandwich shop/ice cream parlor.
Dow City is home to the Dow House, which is listed on the National Historical Register. The city parks museum contains a Rock Island Caboose, a country schoolhouse and the town's original jail. The park also has volleyball and basketball courts and a shelter house.Activities available for the youth include:Little League, 441 and Scouts for both boys and girls.Quiet and friendly best describes the town of Dow City.Community churches: Bethlehem Lutheran, R.L.D.S., St. Mary's Catholic and United Methodist.