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Archive for the ‘sightseeing’ Category

Since its arrival in Indianola, the “God Bless America” statue has been the talk of the town. A friend told me that the American Gothic house in Eldon, Iowa, is worth a visit. So, Dave and I travelled there on Friday. We were impressed!

Today the house is owned by the State Historical Society of Iowa through donation from Carl E. Smith and is registered on the National Register of Historic Places (1974). It is amazing that Grant Wood selected that house, of all possible houses, for his famous painting. The Gothic window was the clincher.

The Visitor Center, run by the Wapello County Conservation Board, is small, relatively new, and packed with interesting information. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. The 25-minute film is a “must see.” The Visitor Center even has mock-up clothing so visitors can have their picture taken (with your own camera) in front of the house in vintage clothing.

Admission and photo session (with or without the vintage clothing) are FREE. The trip is worth it! Enjoy!

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Over the last 2-3 days southern Iowa has benefitted from 5-7 inches of rain. Yesterday afternoon, Dave left work at 2:00 so we could make a Lineville cemetery stop prior to going to Allerton for a special dinner. Not only is everything very soggy after all of that rain, yesterday was a cold 40 degrees with a strong, blustery northwest wind.

Just travelling to southern Iowa can be a challenge after such a downpour. Whitebreast Creek and the Chariton River nearly always flood after heavy rains. Several roads are low grade and water usually goes over some roads… which just happen to be on our route to Lineville and Allerton.

Yes, we could have gone many miles out of our way on I-35 and Hwy 2 to reach our destinations, but that just isn’t our way. We knew Hwys 34 and 65 were closed at Lucas. So we decided to test whether we could go through Lacona and south of Chariton on Hwy 14. I kept checking my iPhone; Hwy 14 seemed to be open. Dave even asked at the courthouse in Chariton; Hwy 14 seemed to be open. So we headed south. We didn’t find any road blocks where we expected, so we kept going. We came to the vulnerable section. We saw local officials monitoring the situation, water lapped along the road and across part of the road. We were allowed to cross and drove through an inch or two of water; no problems. Whew!

We drove on toward the cemetery at Lineville. It always amazes us. The gravestone topper that we left on Dave’s grandparents’ stone nearly two years ago was still there! Dave removed the old flowers and wired a new silk flower arrangement to the saddle. Ordinarily, we spend some time walking around the cemetery, but not today. The waterlogged grass and the bitter wind just were not conducive to a leisure stroll. We’ll be back on a better day.

We stayed on hard-surface roads as we drove around Lineville, Allerton, and Corydon and arrived at the Old Time Soda Fountain just ahead of the 6:30 dinner time.

These dinners are held at interesting venues. The event is the South Central Regional Partnership annual dinner and is sponsored by a local Presbyterian church. This evening was sponsored by the Allerton United Presbyterian Church. Dave started going when he was on Session at our church; now we both attend. The sponsors create opportunities for participants to learn about their community. Last year we toured the Sprint Car Museum in Knoxville. Another year we visited the John L. Lewis Museum in Lucas.

The Old Time Soda Fountain in Allerton is amazing. The building probably dates from the late 1800s, though I forgot to ask. Restoration efforts are progressing. The soda fountain itself is restored original equipment (estimate was $9,000, actual cost just to restore that piece of equipment was $17,000). At one time during the restoration process a large exterior wall collapsed and the owner group struggled to find someone who would tackle that rebuilding project. The original shelving is currently being stripped of several coats of paint and the original wood is emerging. Currently, the group is raising money to remove the false ceiling and reveal the original tin ceiling. The group’s efforts are commendable! For a town that could appear dying, community projects keep the sense of community alive and add quality of life value. The Soda Fountain is open on Saturday nights from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Former Allerton Presbyterian Church member, now a resident of Centerville, Nancy Bennett gave the program on Walldogs International. Her group started in Allerton in 1993 when a group of international artists worked to improve the town’s appearance with painting murals on some of the buildings. Since 1993 the group has worked each year in a variety of communities in several countries, though many are in central United States. Interesting how this international group is rooted in Allerton’s efforts to keep their community alive.

From Allerton our dinner group moved to the Prairie Trails Museum in Corydon. Dave’s mother loved this museum in her hometown; Dave and I have visited it previously. On this visit we were impressed with the building additions and the expanded exhibits from our previous visits, but Dave and I were tired. We accepted “rain-check” tickets to come back on a different day.

It has been nearly two years since we’ve made this trek, so if the day had been beautiful, we wanted to visit other family sites, as well. Maybe next year, when we are both retired, we can make it a day trip.

In the meantime, as we continue our sorting projects, we saw potential homes for some items we have. We have some glass milk and cream bottles, as well as some old glass pop bottles that the Old Time Soda Fountain expressed interest in. The museum in Corydon is looking for items from the 20th century and we have several items from Dave’s parents that could be donated to that museum.

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