OK ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for another impromptu Iowa geography/history lesson, courtesy of the Iowa Travel Advisor and the Sawmill Museum of Clinton Iowa. Iowa was once home to the largest lumber industry in the world.This may be something that your 8th grade teacher attempted to penetrate your consciousness as you struggled to fight the drowsiness and drool effect of 2 peanut butter/jelly sandwiches at lunch or were deeply immersed in a subversive note-passing operation.If that’s the case, then here is your second chance!
The lumber industry flourished in Clinton in the 1850’s as the result of several factors. The town’s geographic location on the mighty Mississippi River and its proximity to a growing railroad network,contributed to its success.As the demands of the Civil War and the ensuing “western ho!!” pattern of settlement occurred, the insatiable appetite for lumber followed and here were the Clinton entrepreneurs willing to build sawmills that would receive the huge log rafts of fallen timber from the forests of Minnesota and Wisconsin.Millions and millions of dollars ware made in this fair city as long as the lumber came floating downstream, but ,alas, in a recurring theme of industrial America,someone forgot to plant new trees up north and thus ended the lumber boom in Clinton!!
Fortunately we have museums and these museums exist to document our past history, boondoggles and all, and rekindle the memory of long ago occupations such as milling and lumberjacking!! The Sawmill Museum attempts to do just that.A specific effort has been made to appeal to the school age children and the museum has done a fine job.I myself was hoping to hear the sound of saws whirring,sawdust flying and the smell of fresh cut lumber and you can do that here one Sunday a month, but for now my imagination was my guide back to yesteryear and you can bet I wasn’t “board”!!!
Iowans and anybody involved in any type of agriculture love their tractors.Nothing beats the memories evoked when standing next to an old model or replica and conjuring up stories of farming days passed to anybody who will listen.For some reason all the hard labor and long hours spent aboard one of these working machines seems to pleasantly fade away when you are immersed in nostalgia!”Remember that wintry day back in ’54 after 2 foot of snow and 30 degrees below and the old “B” started up on the first crank” You get the picture!!
Now the idea is not new by any means in Iowa, but the John Deere Corporation finally opened the doors last December to a historical tractor museum in Waterloo . This is the city where most of the John Deere tractors have been assembled for years so what better place to display and document the past successes of this agricultural giant.The museum is located in one of John Deere’s unused assembly buildings erected in the early 40’s so it has an old factory feel but certainly has been spruced up to state of the art display techniques.
When visiting you can expect to see the complete John Deere story starting from the famous”moldboard plow” right up to today’s ingenious computerized behemoths.Starting with an intro movie the visitor will see plenty of history and the part John Deere played in developing the “gas traction engine”. You will see models from every era(my favorite the 3010 gas) and experience all that was involved in getting the finished product into the hands of the consumer …the American farmer and eventually global agronomy.Usually when I travel to a new attraction I try not to have too many preconceived notions of what I might see so that I might leave room for the thrill of discovery.However, I must say that I had high expectations for this long anticipated visit and I was not disappointed!!Please consider the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum in Waterloo.I’ll be pulling for you!!