As the days of this year’s summer travel become singly numbered ,I decided to get off beat with some of my stops. Everybody knows about the Grotto in West Bend or the Living History Farms in W Des Moines..but what about the Barrow Gang capture(B) ,Iowa’s tallest water tower(K) or the site of Harry Truman’s campaign whistle stop at the World Plowing Contest in 1948(B)?? With a little bit of planning I was able to take in all of these obscure Iowa feature on my last trip and still continue my sweep up of small Iowa Towns see W Central Iowa Photos
Tallest Water Tower in Iowa(Scranton)
Barrow Gang Shootout Site
National Plowing Site Near Dexter 1948
When one starts to reminisce about his or her past in print ,you run the risk of affixing an irrevocable age tag on your identity, but “what the heck!!” the moisture behind my ears evaporated a long time ago.This lengthy preface is my way of say that I had my memory jogged last week I visited Trainland USA near Colfax.
Like many boys growing up the 1950’s the allure of an electric model train set was a big deal to me especially the nationally advertised “Lionel” models and so I just had to have one. What a thrill on Christmas morning to be able open a package containing a train set and instantly experiencing the thrill of “engineering a train etc.” I guess it was because the train and its miles of track were still fresh in our collective memories as an important part of Iowa life .The interstates and the accompanying truck traffic had yet to be built. There were no paved bike trails marking a former rail route from Town A to Town B and everybody loved trains.
Red Atwood was a person who loved trains so much that he began to collect Lionel O gauge trains. His dream was to collect and build one of the world’s largest displays and in the 1980’s his goal was accomplished. To illustrate the size of this project :
- 2500 square feet of display area
- 4000 feet of track
- 25000 feet of wire
- 35000 hand cut railroad ties
- over 60 operating Lionel trains in their original state
I could go on but you get the picture ..It’s a model train “bonanza”!!
So the next time you are freewheeling down I-80 ,cussing the traffic and working up a fit of road rage, or maybe you just want something fun to do,take the Colfax exit and head north to Trainland USA.
Northwest Iowa poses a logistical problem to the Iowa Travel Advisor due to its remoteness from Eastern Iowa. Nevertheless I recently completed another 2 day trip to the region and compiled a photo journal featuring towns in Lyon, O’Brien , Osceola, Clay and Cherokee counties…Click for highlights below
Gitchie Manitou State Preserve