Iowa Family Visits and Sightseeing
October 7 and 8, 2011
We left our KOA Kampground in Moline for our visit and explorations in Iowa. This was a nice campground filled with cottonwood trees which we thought unusual for this far east. We were lazy on Thursday and did not complete our visits in the Quad Cities so we will return on Saturday. This is a fairly large metro area by the time you combine the cities of Bettendorf, Rock Island, Davenport, and Moline.
Our Campsite at KOA in Moline IL
Traveling west was the Iowa that Jane remembered - rolling hills with corn and other crops and smaller farms dotting the landscape.
Typical Iowa Farm
Our first stop was in Iowa City for lunch with Jane’s cousin Nora Lee. After a great lunch we were able to make arrangements with the Museum in Kellogg IA for one of the museum workers to meet us for a tour. Kellogg is about an hour west of Iowa City. The museum worker was so gracious to come in on a day the museum was not open to show us around. Kellogg is a small town of 600 people where Jane’s maternal grandparents lived and her mother grew up. Visiting there every summer was THE family vacation most years. There were 6 siblings in the Nesmith family – most with children so there were lots of cousins and many memories for Jane when visiting her grandparents.
The Kellogg Historical Society has been working for years to collect many artifacts and collectibles to document life in days of the past. Many of the businesses on the main street of a small town like this closed and the buildings would be lost except this society has been purchasing them – many by just paying the back taxes and maintaining them or in some cases restoring them. Jane was particularly pleased to see the “locker” where she remembers visiting with “Grandad” to get ice cream cones. The long hallway with checkered floor was still there with the school desk type seats where you could sit to eat your ice cream. The real function of a “locker” was to store frozen beef or pork brought in to be butchered by the farmers or town folks and then stored in their own “locker” for use throughout the year. They had samples of all the butchering implements as well as a set of the stamps for the outside of each package to tell what cut of meat was inside.
Volunteer at the Kellogg Museum - in "Locker"
Jane’s mother taught school in a one room school near Kellogg as her first teaching job. The museum worker had been one of her students. The Historical Society had moved and restored an example of a one room school and we were able to see it from the outside and peer in through the windows. One of the volunteers had the doorway boarded up because he was painting the door!
Example of Iowa One Room School
After viewing the buildings Jane was able to direct Ben to her grandparents’ home…it looked so different. The owner was just getting in his car to leave so Jane asked permission to photograph the house. He proudly told her of all the improvements he had made in the last few years. The white frame house now had white vinyl siding and the porches on the back and front had been enclosed. He was maintaining the home well but it looked so different. There was a double car garage where none had been before. But the stepping stones to the neighbors house were still there and the view was the same. The large bay window in the living room was still present. The owner did not invite us to view inside and I think I prefer to remember it the way it was when I last visited nearly 50 years ago. While the small town is not what it was in those days – it is in good repair and seems to be a bedroom community for larger towns in the area. After driving around the small town we headed back to I80 and headed back to Iowa City.
Nesmith Home in Kellogg 2011
The wind was fierce today and Ben was struggling to keep control of the Sprinter. The terrain was much as mentioned earlier with farm after farm in the midst of harvesting corn and soybeans.
Back in Iowa City we had a wonderful dinner at an Italian Restaurant with Nora Lee, Wayne and daughter Mary. Many stories of days gone by and travels and adventures of family filled the evening. We went home with Mary to spend the night in her home. Saturday morning we visited with Nora Lee, Wayne, and son John, his wife Penny, and their son David. It is really nice to reconnect with family in person. Thanks for all the great hospitality. After a tour around Iowa City to see the huge University, the downtown area, and their family business we headed back to the Quad City area.
On the way back to the Quad City we stopped in West Branch to visit the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum and the Hoover Birthplace National Landmark. The museum was quite interesting. I have to admit I remembered very little about his presidency. Seems he was a conservative businessman and engineer who worked on numerous humanitarian projects both before and after his presidency. From much disgraced with the beginning of the depression during his presidency he came back to prominence during the Truman presidency when he was asked to lead several projects.Hoover was born in a 2 room house that is on the grounds. It was open for visiting. A family of 5 living in two rooms would be very unusual today. There was a living room and a bedroom with a trundle bed. There was a small back porch used for cooking in the summer and the ranger said in the winter the cook stove was moved into the living room for heating and cooking.
President Hoover Birthplace
We had a picnic on the grounds and then headed on east. Ben had remembered seeing the I80 Truck Stop somewhere along the road and wanted to stop – it was billed as the Largest Truck Stop in the World. It was huge – a food court with 5 or 6 fast food shops; two other restaurants; a large store selling nearly everything; a theater, barber shop, showers, dentist, restrooms, - really a small city – and of course gas!
Sprinter at World's Largest Truckstop I80
We were going to visit one museum this afternoon and had to choose between the Rock Island Arsenal Museum or the John Deere Museum. We finally selected the Rock Island Arsenal Museum. Ben wanted to see all the armaments and Jane had a connection as this Military Base was her landlord for 20+ years as the Red Cross Building in Kingsport is leased from Holston Army Ammunition Plant managed from the Rock Island Arsenal. The military guys came to visit , inspect, and renew the lease about every 5 years.
The museum was very interesting with information. The first train bridge across the Mississippi was built here. In the law suit between the steamship industry and the railroads over building the bridge – the lawyer for the railroads was none other than Abraham Lincoln! He won and the race of the railroads across the US was on!
All types of armaments and other supplies needed by the military is produced and designed at the Rock Island Arsenal. It is a large facility covering the entire island. The museum included everything from a replica of George Washington’s sword to the special armored protection made for a Humvee and other vehicles currently used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We found our way back to the KOA Kampground. Many more folks were camping here this weekend but we had reserved our spot – did laundry, cooked supper and did some reading and blog writing. Tomorrow we head further south – Iowa, Illinois, and perhaps Missouri.