Written by MilwVon on 22 Apr, 2007
Once we moved to Iowa one of the first things I wanted to see was the bridges made famous in the movie "Bridges of Madison County" staring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. Still one of my all-time favorite romance stories, I still cry as he…Read More
Once we moved to Iowa one of the first things I wanted to see was the bridges made famous in the movie "Bridges of Madison County" staring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. Still one of my all-time favorite romance stories, I still cry as he drives away in the rain as she contemplates leaving her husband to join photographer Robert Kinkaid.Madison County is an easy drive from Des Moines, approximately 30 minutes to the southwest of the capital city. As you enter the community known for their covered bridges, there is a small information area in the town of St. Charles with a bridge that has been relocated to a small ravine. This is the Imes Covered Bridge, the oldest of the six remaining bridges in the area. Built in 1870, it is 81 feet in length.The two bridges made famous by the movie are the Roseman and Holliwell Covered Bridges. The Roseman was built in 1883 and is 107 feet across a small creek, in its original location. It is also known as the Ghost Bridge from folklore stories telling of the two sheriffs and their posses who were chasing an escaped prisoner. It is told that the prisoner let out a screechy yell and then jumped up through the roof of the bridge. The body was never found and was determined to be proof of the man’s innocence. This is also the bridge where Clint Eastwood’s character first sought directions to from Francesca (Meryl Streep) and where she later left him the invitation for dinner that would forever change their lives.The Holliwell Covered Bridge is the longest of the covered bridges of Madison County and spans across the Middle River, also in its original location. It is 122 feet long and was built in 1880. This bridge was also in the movie, the locale where the main characters enjoyed an afternoon of photography and nature.During our tour of the Bridges of Madison County, we also paid a visit to Hogback Covered Bridge which can be found in the valley north of Winterset. Built by the same person as the Roseman and Holliwell, Benton Jones, this bridge is also in its original location over the Middle River, and it is 97 feet in length.In Winterset’s community park, the Cutler-Donahue Covered Bridge has been relocated from its original location in Bevington over the North River. This bridge is one of the two remaining that features a sloped roof. (The other is the Imes Covered Bridge.)All of the covered bridges found here have been restored to their original state, with the Cedar Covered Bridge completely rebuilt after arsons destroyed the original in 2002. At the time it was rebuilt, it was decided to move it to a more accessible area spanning the Cedar Creek. The replica was rebuilt using the original plans and materials consistent with the period the original was built (in 1883) and was rededicated just two years later in October 2004. This was also the last covered bridge to accommodate vehicle traffic.It was very interesting to get out and to walk through the various bridges. There was quite a bit of graffiti which was disappointing to see. Many had birds nesting up in the rafters inside the bridge support beams. One was rather nasty with bird poops everywhere! But don’t let that keep you from getting out and looking at all of the covered bridges. They are truly an engineering marvel and great tribute to the people of the late 19th century.Given that there were originally 19 covered bridges built in Iowa, it is a special treasure to have these six still around and accessible to the public for viewing in a relatively close area of Madison County. If you are in Des Moines for business, or traveling North/South on I35, I would encourage you to make time to spend a couple of hours exploring these six covered bridges that represent a period in American history and engineering advancement.Visitors can take part in the Madison County Covered Bridge Festival, in October in the community of Winterset. Not only can festival goers enjoy a guided tour of the bridges, they can also enjoy craft artisans of rural Iowa including weaving, spinning, and wood carving. Music and dancing are also part of the festival weekend, plus plenty of food and drink. The 2007 festival will be held on October 13 and 14. More information may be obtained at their website: www.madisoncounty.com/bridge_fest.html . Close
We enjoyed a lovely spring afternoon visiting the Amana Colonies, located approximately 75 minutes from Des Moines. We started at the far southern and western end of the 10 mile loop road, ending our tour here in Amana. Here there is the largest number of…Read More
We enjoyed a lovely spring afternoon visiting the Amana Colonies, located approximately 75 minutes from Des Moines. We started at the far southern and western end of the 10 mile loop road, ending our tour here in Amana. Here there is the largest number of historical buildings and modern day shops, including restaurants and wineries. We first drop down through the main village street to get a general feel of what there was here to see and do, and parked at the far end at the Amana Woolen Mill.At this end of the town, there was a lot to see and do, and plenty of places to spend money. We started in the Amana Woolen Mills which is celebrating their 150th anniversary this year! Today they largely use more modern equipment to weave their wool fabrics, but it was very interesting to read about and to see the photos of the original processes used over 100 years ago. There is also a video in the factory area that tells about how blankets are made today at Amana Woolen Mill.The blankets and other products made here are beautiful and very reasonably priced. I was actually surprised at how affordable they were. While we didn’t have anyone to buy for, it was quite tempting since they were also offering a special deal on their blankets; buy two and get the third for free. Most typical size blankets ran between $50 and $75, with more being charged for those full sized beds. They also had a nice assortment of woolen mittens, mukluks, scarves, and ponchos.Across the street from the woolen mill was the Millstream Brewery, one of several micro-brews still producing beers in the Amana Colonies an the oldest in Iowa. With drought beer available for onsite consumption, you can also buy six pack bottles to go. We were especially intrigued by the gentleman in front of us in the line, who had a clear gallon jug which he says is part of their refill program. You buy the empty jug for $9 and can come back to have it refilled for $9 as many times as you want for “take out” off premises consumption. Better yet, every 10th refill of the jug is free . . . a great deal for locals!David tried their Generations White Ale and I opted for their homebrewed, old style root beer. They were served ice cold and were very good at quenching our mid-afternoon thirst. With our whistles wetted, we were off to the next site at this end of the road . . . the Amana Millrace. Completed in 1869, it took workers from all seven of the Amana villages to build the six and one-half mile canal system and hydro-electric plant. It’s amazing that the original settlers in this area understood enough to build such a technologically advanced system to harness the power of the Iowa River for the purpose of generating electricity for their mills.From here, we got in our car and drove back up to one of the main parking lots atop the 220th Trail. We explored several of the stores and shops, buying some decadent walnut fudge at the Amana Colonies Village Store. Next we browsed in the leather shop next door which was a bit of a disappointment. While they did have some lovely homemade lace items, their leather goods were largely other brands such as Minnetonka and Buxton. Their selection of leather purses and hats were somewhat limited in choice, and didn’t really indicate where they were made, so we passed on making a purchase here.Across the street and next door to the Ox Yoke Inn is the Ackerman Winery. With a nice walk through self-tour and free samples of their award winning wines, we really enjoyed this stop during our tour of the Village of Amana. Many of their wines were of the fruit variety, including apple, peach, rhubarb, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, and dandelion. They also had their own chardonnay and merlot. If your shopping list includes wine related gifts including racks, glasses and novelty openers, this is a store you’ll want to make time to visit.We wandered down to the Chocolate Haus where we enjoyed watching homemade chocolates being made. They had all different kinds of chocolate candies available for purchase including covered nuts, clusters, and fudge. Being a week after Easter, they still had some seasonal holiday items available at substantial savings.Across the street and down about a block we ventured into the Amana Stone Hearth Bakery. By this time, it was late in the afternoon and the items still available for purchase were rather slim pickins. Known for their hard crusted breads and homemade pastries, this bakery provides baked goods for many of the local restaurants in Amana. We would later enjoy rolls at the Ox Yoke Inn that were baked here.This is just a small representation of the shops found in Amana. Because we arrived rather late in the afternoon, our time had to be spent on those areas that we were most interested in . . . and to coincide with our desire to eat supper around 4:30pm before getting back on the highway to head home to Ames, nearly two hours away. Other shops and artisans of interest in Amana include the world famous Amana Furniture and Clock Shop, Custom Cutlery and Ironworks, and the Heritage Designs & Quilting Supplies. For those with children, you may want to pay a visit to the Little Red Wagon or the Christmas Room for kids of all ages. Close
The Amana Colonies were founded by Germans who had left their Buffalo, NY homes to find a better life in the Midwest. This religious group founded seven communal villages which by design were one hour by ox cart from one another. In the communal village…Read More
The Amana Colonies were founded by Germans who had left their Buffalo, NY homes to find a better life in the Midwest. This religious group founded seven communal villages which by design were one hour by ox cart from one another. In the communal village culture, the community owned all of the buildings and land, with residents contributing to the village through their work effort. Communal schools, kitchens, and churches existed in each village to support those who resided there. With the depression came, question as to whether or not their communal lifestyle was still viable. A vote was taken in 1932 to dissolve the communal system. Many of the original buildings remain in tact today and are open for visitors to gain a glimpse into what it was like to live in the Amana Colonies during the early 20th century.There are seven communities that make up what is known today as the Amana Colonies: South Amana, West Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana, East Amana, Homestead and Amana. Many of the communities are very small with little in the way of visitors’ sites, with a majority of the interesting shops and artisans in Amana. The Amana Heritage Society features seven historical sites which may be visited individually or as part of a complete tour package. Because we visited early in April, many of the buildings were not yet open season. More information about hours of operation and fees can be found at: www.amanaheritage.org.Because there is so much to see and do in Amana, I will feature that village in a separate review. This review will highlight the South, West, and Middle Amana villages.As you leave I80 for the Amana Colonies Loop Road (Rt. 220), you will have a choice of which direction to go. We choose to visit South and West Amana first. South Amana features a handful of original buildings including those that today are the Mini-Americana Barn Museum and the Communal Agricultural Museum. The Communal Agricultural Museum is one of the oldest museums in the colonies and features farming tools and implements from the era. Photographs also tell the story of the Nation’s largest communal farm here in Iowa.In West Amana we enjoyed our time at the Broom & Basket Shop and the Wood Shop. In the Broom & Basket Shop the woman at the main counter was weaving a picnic basket while an older gentleman was teaching a young girl how to make a witch’s broom. It was very interesting to watch him help her to make her very own broom! (See the photo attached to this review.) We then went next door to see Iowa’s largest walnut rocking chair . . . and my was it huge! You can see David sitting up in the chair in the attached photo. It has over 300’ of walnut and weighs nearly 700 pounds and took 75 hours to make. In the shop there were a lot of very nice handmade wooden crafts and household items including picture frames, kitchen implements like rolling pins, and cutting boards and some lovely end tables. Children of all ages could have fun playing with and trying to put together the wooden jigsaw puzzles.From West Amana we headed over to Middle Amana which for our April visit was a bit of a bust. Hahn’s Original Hearth Oven Bakery had already sold out their day’s goods and were closed by 1pm. Next door the Communal Kitchen and Copper Shop was still closed for the season scheduled to reopen Memorial Day weekend. The Communal Kitchen last served a community meal in 1932 and has been preserved to what it looked like when that last meal was served there. Part of the Amana Heritage Society, a guided tour is offered to visitors to tell stories of what living in the Amana Colonies was like during its communal living era.We did not visit East Amana as we were told there are no public buildings or shops there. We also did not have time to venture down to Homestead, where there are several more of the Amana Historical Society sites including the Amana Community Church Museum, the Homestead Blacksmith Shop, and the Homestead Store Museum. Again all of these sites along the seven stop tour reopen Memorial Day weekend and welcome visitors throughout the summer until mid to late September.I hope that we will have the opportunity to visit Amana Colonies again this summer when more of the buildings, museums and exhibits are open to the public. Close
Written by btwood2 on 30 Jan, 2005
Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards. -- Song of Solomon 4:8, King James Version From this verse…Read More
Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards. -- Song of Solomon 4:8, King James Version
From this verse in the lovely lyrical and sensual Song of Songs, the German Inspirationist immigrants named their new settlement in Iowa. The year was 1855. Founding Inspirationist werkzeug Christian Metz was commanded in a vision to name the village bleib treu (stay true, remain faithful). Amana, a mountain in the Anti-Lebanon range between Syria and Lebanon, and also a river or stream near Damascus, is defined in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia as meaning "firm" or "constant." So began the first village of the seven Amana Colonies of Iowa in the broad, fertile valley overlooking the Iowa River.
The Community of True Inspiration began much earlier, however, with two individuals at the dawn of the 1700s in Germany. Eberhard Gruber and Johann Rock, both Lutherans, began to diverge from the tenets of the state Lutheran church, advocating humility and piety through simple worship. Both believed that God still spoke through certain chosen individuals, inspired ones, tools of God, or werkzeuges (instruments). They felt the Lutheran Church had become too formalized and removed from the common people. They wrote about their beliefs and traveled through Germany and Switzerland, establishing congregations called Inspirationists.
It wasn’t long before these congregations fell afoul of the German Lutheran clergy and establishment, however. They refused to send their children to public schools and refused to join the military. By the 1840s, the combined effects of persecution, excessive rents and taxation, and crop failures due to drought led the Community of True Inspiration to seek a new home in America. In 1842, they purchased 5,000 acres of land near Buffalo, New York, on the Seneca Indian Reservation. Here they established a constitution initiating a communal system of ownership. The settlement of Ebenezer thrived, and soon grew so rapidly that they were running out of room. Nearby Buffalo was industrializing and some feared it would influence the community negatively. Besides, New York land was getting too expensive, so they decided to go west. A possible land purchase in Kansas fell through, but shortly thereafter, Amana was founded. By 1861, all seven Amana colonies had been built, and the Inspirationists farmed on the 26,000 surrounding acres.
Amana Communal Society: The seeds of communality already had sprouted back in the homeland of Germany, where wealthier Inspirationists helped support those less well-off. The institutionalization of the communal lifestyle in America stemmed more from practicality than political or ideological reasons. It also fit in with their religious beliefs to share what they had. In the Amana Colonies of the 1860s, though mothers with many young children or aged relatives to care for stayed home, women with children over the age of 2 were required to work outside of the home in the community. By that time, besides farming, there were two woolen mills, a calico cloth works, grist and flourmills, and lumber and brickyards. There were also communal gardens, orchards, and kitchens. In their heyday, there were more than 50 community kitchens in the seven villages, feeding more than 1,500 people three meals and two coffee/snack breaks a day. In Middle Amana is one of six Amana heritage sites, the only community kitchen still open, not for use as a kitchen but for its historical value. We glimpsed inside the kitchen and saw big pots and pans atop a large brick oven, suitable for feeding 30 to 40. In another corner stood a tall, old metal icebox. A large black wood-burning stove dominated the center of the room. Behind the set table hung cutting boards of various sizes, the largest one appearing to be 2 by 3 feet. I was interested to learn that most families didn’t eat in these kitchens, but sent members to pick up their allocated portions, which they’d eat in their own homes.
An early start: Children were required to begin school at age 3. They learned lessons by rote, respect for authority, and order. They were indoctrinated in Inspirationist religious beliefs and taught a vocation. Most finished their education by eighth grade, at age 14. Some who showed exceptional promise were sent on to high school and college. Mostly German was spoken in the Amanas, and the German traditions at Christmas and Easter and German nursery rhymes and games were handed down to the young ones. Church attendance was mandatory for everyone, with 11 services and prayer meetings weekly.
The Grand Council ruled the Amanas. These 13 male elders were appointed by the werkzeuges. This council had much power and influence in communal times. They made the rules and economic policies and also dealt with those who broke the rules. Every year the elders examined every Amanas member for "spiritual correctness" in a process called Unterredung (interview). Church seating was strictly regulated. The more spiritual you’d been determined to be, the closer you could sit to the front. Men and women were not allowed to sit together. Newlyweds and parents of new babies were automatically moved back a few rows to denote their assumed reduction in spirituality.
The Great Change: In 1932, after 89 years of communal living, internal and external factors combined to end the communal nature of the Amanas Colonies. The Depression had started in 1929, hurting the Amanas economy, which was not isolated from the rest of the nation’s. But unrest and dissatisfaction had been building prior to that, especially in younger members. Some elders were accused of favoritism. Old rules were challenged and church attendance fell. There had been no new werkzeuges identified since the last one, Barbara Heinemann, died in 1883. The automobile, electricity, the telephone, and movies were allowed in the Amanas, especially attracting younger members to the ways of the outside world. The vote to disband communalism was overwhelming. The decision was made to form a profit-sharing, joint-stock corporation, the Amana Society. It proved to be a good change for most, encouraging development of new businesses such as Amana Appliances, creating more opportunities for youngsters to attend high school and college and allowing the Amana Church to continue, remaining a vital part of community life. Though members now work for wages and own their homes, the Amana Society still farms the land and manages various successful businesses, such as the Amana Woolen Mill and Salesroom, Amana Furniture, Amana Meat Shop, and Amana General Store.
We took a day trip to the Amanas with Bob’s granddaughter and her husband on a bright and sunny September day. Just over an hour’s drive on I-80 east of Des Moines, we turned off at Highway 151, exit 225, 5 miles south of…Read More
We took a day trip to the Amanas with Bob’s granddaughter and her husband on a bright and sunny September day. Just over an hour’s drive on I-80 east of Des Moines, we turned off at Highway 151, exit 225, 5 miles south of the Amanas Loop. "Willkommen to the Amana Colonies" were the friendly words on a billboard at the intersection of 151 and the Amanas Trail. As did my brochure, the yellow route painted on the billboard map showed that we could turn either left or right to begin our loop. Since we wanted to end our day in Main Amana with a family-style meal at one of several restaurants there, we decided to begin from the opposite end. This route would bring us through five of the seven Amanas colonies.
The high quality of craftsmanship for which Amanas products are renowned was evident at both Schanz Furniture and Refinishing Shop, Krauss Furniture, and Clock Shop, next door to one another in South Amana. As we wandered through, admiring wooden handcrafted furniture for every room in the house; grandfather clocks; wall-hangings; and inventive, intricate toys, we realized we’d have to pick up our pace a bit when we still weren’t done after an hour. Krauss’s offers a self-guided tour of their workshop and finishing area. No assembly line here; every piece of furniture and clock is made by a skilled craftsperson from locally grown walnut, cherry, and oak. These are solid, elegantly styled, timeless pieces that are meant to be used daily and will last generations. Both stores sell online and ship anywhere.
Our first glimpses of Amanas humor were at Krauss’s: 10 small wooden contraptions on the sales counter. Example: A quarter pounder? A tiny gavel screwed to a clothespin, the head suspended above an indentation in a strip of wood containing a quarter. Squeeze the clothespin and the gavel pounds the quarter. OK, it’s a visual thing – cuter seen than described! In West Amana, we were to find a veritable treasure trove of belly laughs when we pulled over at the Broom and Basket Shop advertising "Home of Iowa’s Largest Walnut Rocker." It was big all right. Suddenly the four of us were acting like 5-year-olds, taking turns clambering up in the chair and taking pictures of each other. Look at those two tiny men, Jeff and Bob, on the right. Outdoors, a motley assortment of old farm equipment lay on display, with some ancient tractors partly imbedded in the dirt, with cryptic signs such as "You have to have a MM to keep the IH out of the mud." Bob’s granddaughter, Lee, found a buddy in the perpetual motion saw-guy, an old codger in a blue bandanna smoking a corncob pipe (see photo below). Up and down he went, not making much progress on the big old log in front of him.
Broomcorn and basket willows: Benjamin Franklin is credited with planting the first broomcorn seeds in the U.S. obtained in Hungary, originally from a sorghum-like African plant. Broomcorn is grown near the shop, but most of the U.S. broomcorn grows on in the Texas Panhandle, producing up to 25,000 tons yearly, enough for the more than 50 million broomcorn brooms sold every year in this country. The Broom and Basket Shop sells all kinds of brooms, including some special ones, such as the West Amana sideliner whisk broom, the old Amana Colony pot broom, and even witches’ brooms in several sizes and styles! Also of interest, the first Inspirationist immigrants brought a cultured variety of willow with them to America to make their baskets. The villages all had teams of basket-weavers to supply their basketry needs. Besides willow baskets, the shop also sells traditional splint oak and coiled straw baskets. Both of these old crafts are alive and well in the Amanas.
Get ready for winter at the Amana Woolen Mill, the only working woolen mill in Iowa. We visited the main salesroom in Amana, with an extensive collection of woolen items and so much more. Arrive before 4pm, as their looms run on the half hour until then. The work area is signed with simple explanations of such machinery as warping creels, reels, and computerized Sulzer looms, which can make a 6-foot blanket in 3 to 4 minutes! You can watch a brief video about the history of the mill. Besides woolen blankets, clothing, and stuffed animals, there’s a large assortment of other attractive Amanas products, such as quilted cotton kitchen items, wall hangings, and calendars. Lee exclaimed, "I can hardly wait for it to get cold!" as she emerged from the shop with woolen blanket-robe, hat, and mittens for the upcoming harsh Iowa winter. If you don’t take Amanas loop, there’s another wool store outlet in Little Amana right on the I-80 at exit 225.
Amana and Maytag are well-known appliances synonymous with quality. I fondly remember the old Amana freezer handed down from my parents to me, finally sold when we began full-timing in our motor home. We drove by the Amana Refrigeration Products factory in Middle Amana. We didn’t stop, but heard you can visit a showroom exhibiting the history of appliances. Visit their website to view their line of products.
As usual, not enough time… Some shops we would have liked to visit but didn’t included Fern Hill Gifts and Quilts in South Amana; High Amana General Store in High Amana; and Schnitzelbank, Chocolate Haus, and Christmas Room in Main Amana. We’d also liked to have checked out one or more of the six wineries for some wine-tasting and Millstream Brewing Company, Iowa’s oldest microbrewery.
Written by mrtexas on 30 Jan, 2003
I went on a quest to visit the birthplace of my favorite actor, John Wayne. He was born in Winterset, Iowa in 1907. Much to my delight, the house he was born in was tranformed into a shrine to honor "The Duke" and…Read More
I went on a quest to visit the birthplace of my favorite actor, John Wayne. He was born in Winterset, Iowa in 1907. Much to my delight, the house he was born in was tranformed into a shrine to honor "The Duke" and his long career as an actor.
Winterset is a small community of about 2,000 people. You can tell that this town marches to the beat of a different drummer just by the name of the main street through town, "John Wayne Street." The memorial is just a block from the main drag through town, with signs directing you to it.
Once arriving inside the gift shop you are greeted by a warm friendly face and taken on a tour of the little house and given some history of the life of John Wayne. Some of the memorabilia that is displayed inside the house includes the eye patch Wayne wore in, "Rooster Cogburn," many pictures of Wayne with friends and family, along with a guest book that boasts some famous visitors like former President Ronald Reagan, Actor Gene Autry, and much more.
The gift shop was very well stocked with movies, t-shirts, ball caps, mugs, shot glasses, various photographs, and even life size cardboard figures of John Wayne. The museum is open 365 days a year for the public to tour.
On the way back to Des Moines, where I stayed, I stopped to visit a couple of covered bridges in the area. The bridges were also clearly marked with signs to tell where to turn off the main highway to find them. This is the place that gave the movie "Bridges of Madison County" its name.
Des Moines is a very warm city with many restaurants and some great shopping malls. On the east side of Des Moines you can also stop in at the Herbert Hoover Museum. I would recommend this trip to anyone who likes to go off the beaten path and experience the beautiful countryside that central Iowa has to offer.
That’s what this family calls itself, a hurricane, though they’re a fairly normal family of seven: five kids and two parents, plus two dogs and a gecko. (There used to be a hamster, but one of the dogs mistakenly thought it was food.)…Read More
That’s what this family calls itself, a hurricane, though they’re a fairly normal family of seven: five kids and two parents, plus two dogs and a gecko. (There used to be a hamster, but one of the dogs mistakenly thought it was food.) My husband Bob is grandpa and great-grandpa to the Harrisons, and we had the enjoyable experience of spending almost 1 month as their neighbors in rural Berwick on the outskirts of Des Moines. Neighbors because they let us park our motor home in front of their house, which is conveniently located on a dead-end street next to a grassy meadow.
So what’s life like parked next to a Hurricane? Well, every morning around 8am there’s a bit of commotion as the kids are hurried out of the house and to the bus stop on the corner. It’s then quiet on weekdays as dad Jeff tackles the many home chores, loads of laundry on an almost daily basis, cleaning and straightening up indoors, mowing the lawn, going on errands in town, and occasionally working construction jobs. Mom Lee has already been up since the dark pre-dawn hours, quietly leaving for her job with an insurance company in Des Moines, from which she’ll return by 4pm. But before then, the high-pitched wheeze of school bus brakes accompanied by high-pitched squealing children’s voices signal that the kids are coming home from school. Then the tempo of life picks up, with triplets Sami and Lacey being hustled off to dance classes and triplet Ronny to scrimmage football most days. Singletons Nik (oldest) and Brody (youngest) also participate in sports, track, and wrestling. Occasionally one of the kids will be driven over to a friend’s house, or a friend of theirs will come over for dinner and sleepover. On weekdays there’s homework for all, and the triplets and Brody test each other on the times tables, or I help with spelling, or Mom sits with someone for reading. Dinners, preceded by grace said by one of the kids, are a hustle-bustle sociable time, but it’s a rare event for all seven Harrisons to be seated eating at once. Usually a couple of stragglers are brought home from whatever events they attended, grab a plate, and see what’s left to eat. Very soon it’s already bedtime for the kids, and parents soon follow, or follow when they can.
This little street in Berwick could be an ideal place to grow up. There’s virtually no traffic because there are no cross streets; it’s on the end of an access street past (what else?) a cornfield. But there are other school-aged kids on the street; one neighbor even has a trampoline in their side yard that seems to be open for anyone on the block to bounce on. It’s refreshing that the worry about lawsuits seems to be absent.
Tiny Berwick has one official building, the post office, plus a few churches. But it’s not far from a Hi-Vee market and Wal-Mart in nearby Altoona. Just off Berwick’s main street, NE 38th Street, you’ll find Mally’s Weh-Weh-Neh-Kee Park, a Polk County park and wildlife refuge. Paths lead through the park and to Five Mile Creek that borders it, over which an old wooden train trestle runs. It’s a great place to take family dogs Tiffany and Libby for walks and a swim. And a good starting point for a walk along the railroad tracks, across the creek and through farmers’ fields, and gently rolling landscape. Watch out for the poison ivy. I wish I could say there was a bed-and-breakfast in Berwick, but I didn’t see any, and it’s probably just too small and off the beaten path for accommodations to be profitable. But it is the kind of little burg where you can stop and talk to friendly people who’ve lived all or most of their lives here. So if you’re in the Des Moines area and want to get a real feel of small-town Midwest, drive over to Berwick and stop at shady Weh-Weh-Neh-Kee Park, where I found the lawn-mowing guy fast asleep on the table under the picnic shelter one late morning walk. Must’ve had a good party the night before, but then again, things don’t move too fast here.
Written by dvs7310 on 30 Jan, 2001
We decided to take the back roads going up. This was MO Rt.13. This took us to just south of the MO/IA border, where we got on I-35 to go the rest of the way (About 100 Miles). We saw rural Missouri at its best.…Read More
We decided to take the back roads going up. This was MO Rt.13. This took us to just south of the MO/IA border, where we got on I-35 to go the rest of the way (About 100 Miles). We saw rural Missouri at its best. It's not nearly as entertaining as driving through rural Alabama, but it's still interesting. Mo 13 is a 2 lane windy road in most parts. You go through countless small towns. I can tell they are really old towns. It's interesting to see the old buildings in the downtown areas. The drive really loses all interest when you get on I-35; it's pretty much just straight flat highway from there. Close