Iowa – The Great River road
Iowa is one of ten states that you can drive along the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. About 325 of the 3,000 total miles pass through Iowa's river cities. We joined this Great River road at Dubuque and then kept hopping back and forth between Iowa and Wisconsin a we travelled northwards passing through Balltown, Guttenburg, Macgregor to Marquette where we crossed back to Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin.
We stayed overnight in Dubuque and visited the National Misissippi River Museum & Aquarium, reviewed on here previously.
Balltown was so small that apart from noting that the population was only 67 and pondering whether they rushed out to change that notice if someone died or was born, it was pretty much forgettable.
The next town we came to was Guttenburg which you can probably tell from its name was an area of German settlers. We spent some time at the Lock and dam No 10 watching the huge barges come through, some with as many as ten to fifteen barges attached so they had to be split to get through the lock. This was originally built in 1937 and is open to visitors with an observation platform and also nice clean toilets too which is handy if you are driving along the route as there are not many unless you go into cafes.
The views along the road are great with the tree covered bluffs on one side and often the great river itself on the other. We continued along this route stopping in McGregor which was a typical 'historic centre' town with the sort of main street that could only be found in mid USA. It is not a huge town with a population of less than 1000 a lot smaller than in its heyday in the 1870s when it was one of the biggest shipping ports along the river west of Chicago. Not a lot to see so a very quick stop and walk along the main street before heading on to Marquette.
Marquette was named after is named after Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquett. Marquette and louis Joliet ( also a town named after him) discovered the Mississippi River just south east of Marquette in 1673. This is where we crossed the Mississippi river to Prairie du Chien using the Marquette-Joliet bridge. We noticed the Lady Luck Riverboat casino moored but were not tempted to part with any money. One of the more bizarre things in this small town was the pink elephant wearing a suit and hat statue, not quite sure what that was about!
A little out of town you will find the Effigy Mounds National Park which is apparently the only national park in Iowa but as we crossed the river before that I am not sure how exciting that is.
I am not sure how many miles we covered along the route in Iowa but we went pretty much as far north as you could in that state and south as far as Dubuque so quite a way. It was not full of excitements but was very scenic and the few small towns offered us a break and something different to see and walk around.