Lansing Mississippi Riverfront/Mt Hosmer-Lansing

Are you a fan of scenic beauty? Well most people are and we are fortunate to live in a state that offers many wonderful vistas. However it is very hard to beat the hills and valleys of NE Iowa when fall foliage is at its zenith. This time my exploration took  me to the far NE Tip of Iowa where the pungent smell of cheese and gophers emanating from adjacent states nearly overpowered the predominant fall harvest smells of corn and beans.From the bluffs high above Lansing the expanse of this 3 state area was readily visible and my what a slice of panoramic beauty!

The Veterans/American Legion of Lansing have done a wonderful job of establishing and maintaining  a park on the summit of Mt Hosmer(so  named for one Harriet Hosmer who won a foot race to the top of the hill in 1851)Not only is the view superb but the honor of those who have served their country is memorialized here.

I decided to do a little sightseeing in downtown Lansing and some of its quaint riverfront attractions.One item of note is the oldest active Catholic Church west of the Mississippi – Immaculate Conception (see  below) and it is quite an impressive structure been added to many times over the years.Another unique sight is the Mississippi River bridge,a relic from previous years experience of travellers who just simply had to get to Wisconsin and back.Of course I had to take the shake rattle and roll trip over and back and wondered aloud  how truckers and campers successfully negotiate this bridge not to mention the ever-present barge traffic. Just another reason for those  of you who are adventure seekers out there to make this remote trip to the NE perimeter of Iowa.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Iowa Great Lakes -Okoboji/Spirit Lake

 

Concluding my search for interstellar iron at Estherville,I decided to point my “meteor rover” to the cool and perennially popular Iowa Lakes region.I started my trip in the Dickinson county seat town of Spirit Lake and was immediately drawn to new courthouse building in downtown(see photo above) Certainly a striking building of architectural beauty in my humble opinion!!I had never ventured around the town’s namesake so I decided to circumnavigate the lake via car..It seemed to me that Spirit Lake differs from The Okoboji lakes being more of a fishing lake than a recreational lake sporting far less commercialization and more individual residences etc. But this was just a brief one day snap shot of the areas activities!!I did make a couple of stops at area state parks Isthmus(Spirit Lake) and Pikes’s Point and Gull Point(West Okoboji) to get a  perspective  on facilities and to see the lake up close.For Iowa these certainly are some of our finest waters, always a sharp contrast to the miles and miles of  the rolling sea of corn and beans.

Devonian Fossil Gorge-Coralville

Anybody Seen George?

Anybody Seen George?

 

The floods of 1993 and 2008 were certainly memorable here in Eastern Iowa. Most people around here will recall the devastation that the flood waters brought to communities along the Cedar and Iowa rivers, but those same waters produced another unexpected result.

Aftermath of the Floods of 1993 and 2008

Aftermath of the Floods of 1993 and 2008

 

When the Corps of Army Engineers built the Coralville Dam on the Iowa River in the 60’s to control flooding and create a recreational lake, they designed an overflow spillway to handle high water emergencies. It is debatable that they envisaged water levels experienced by our 2 “500 year” floods as water roared over the top of the dam in 1993 and 2008.Yet all was not disastrous, as these waters proceeded to scour top soil from limestone deposits beneath the old river bed  and created a unique glimpse into antiquity..the Devonian era(350 million years ago

But what a difference a couple of years make!On the day of my visit, in spite of all the gray rainy days this spring and the large amount of snow received in the area  this winter,the Coralville Lake was measured at 681 ft  well below the 718 record levels of 2008.Hmmmm!!This was good as I had no intention of diving into the water to view the fossils and photograph those old-timer crustaceans etc.. I don’t think my camera or  the photographer was  suited for such a task!! So if you are looking for something different to do and feel the need to control your recreational expense, come see the most “gorge”-eous formations by a dam site in Iowa.(just 6 miles north of I-80 off the Dubuque street exit).

What the Heck is That?

What the Heck is That?

Prairie Fossil Preserve and Visitor Center-Rockford

   North Central Iowa’s prairie flatness can coax the casual eye into thinking that there is nothing much going on here save for excellent cropland and a seemingly endless supply of breezes. However at the Prairie Fossil Center ,the landscape yields a pleasant surprise  for visitors to this 400 acre preserve.

  I arrived at this site intrigued by the name but not sure what I would find. After all, aren’t fossils displayed under glass at museums? How could you possibly  walk out into a prairie and see fossils except maybe an old buffalo propped up on a hill or maybe a box of mammoth bones?? The answer is that under the prairie lies a vast geological past brought to light by the Rockford Brick and Tile Co. This company was in the business of producing drainage tile and needed to mine blue shale used in making brick etc. Of course the quarries left behind are the passageways back in time to the Devonian Age(we’re talking millions of years!!) and the life that existed in what was once a vast sea here.

  The visitor center does a great job of linking the prairie past with the  agricultural present ,yet here is the uniqueness. The public is invited to do their own archaeological  study. Fossils galore!! Take a few but don’t take the whole quarry!So that is exactly what I did( see photo section)

Thank you Rockford Brick and Tile Company for providing a unique glimpse into the past. You should head north to Rockford if you want to experience the “hole” story for yourself

 

The Scenic Iowa River -Iowa Falls

For me the Iowa River has always been a very quiet demure stream that runs through Iowa Ctiy and the University of Iowa campus, Of course I have only known it from the time that Corps of Engineers built the Coralville Dam for “flood control” (yes I remember 2008), so it was interesting to see this river from the other side of the dam.

The  Iowa River at Iowa Falls is ,as its name implies, a significantly different tributary. It cuts and winds  through native limestone bedrock of the area and thereby offers the casual tourist numerous photo chances..I can only imagine at this point what beauty the autumn leaves would offer along the banks of this river!!