Unique Places in Iowa

  • Formations in Crystal Lake Cave
    Formations in Crystal Lake Cave
    by Stephen-KarenConn
  • Monuments at Mt Pisgah
    Monuments at Mt Pisgah
    by mtncorg
  • Monument to LDS missionaries who died locally
    Monument to LDS missionaries who died...
    by mtncorg

Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Iowa

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    "Build It, and They Will Come"

    by deecat Written May 31, 2007

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    Both Jill and I agreed when we decided to visit Iowa that we just had to see the farm where the movie "Field of Dreams" was filmed. Thus, we set aside half of one day to visit Kyersville, Iowa.

    The farm is really a family farm with a baseball diamond carved into the center of it's acreage. It's the original setting where the movie "Field of Dreams" was filmed. The woman at the concession stand told me that more than 300 farms submitted their desire to be used in the movie, and this beautiful farm in Dyersville, Iowa, just happened to win.

    In 1989, the 100-year-old Lansing family farm was seen by millions, and has become a pilgrimage for baseball lovers and for dreamers of all kinds.

    "Field of Dreams" was based on the book, Shoeless Joe written by a graduate of the University of Iowa.

    The movie required that they add the wrap around portion of the porch. The baseball field was constructed in three days. They kept the field after the movie was complete, and that was the beginning ....people from all over the world started arriving to see it. I can see why...it's truly tranquil and pastoral.

    While we were here, a mother, father, and small boy were playing ball...the mother was the batter. It was quite endearing to see.

    Note: The Ghost Players are scheduled to appear on the last Sunday of each month in June through September from 12 pm to 2 pm, performing "The Greatest Show on Dirt". Admission is free.

    Open: daily April through November, 9 am to 6 pm

    The movie predicted reality: "If you build it, they will come"!

    The Lansing Family Farm, Dyersville, Iowa Family Playing on the Field of Dreams Sign next to Souvenir Shop Closer View of the Lansing Family Farm
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    St. Francis Xavier Basilica in Dyersville, Iowa

    by deecat Written May 31, 2007

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    Because I had read that the small town of Dyersville, Iowa, was one of only 52 Basilicas in the United States, I knew I wanted to see it. We were going to Dyersville anyway to see the famed "Field of Dreams". It was a Sunday in late May of 2007, and the weather was perfect...sunny and in the 70s.

    I'm so glad that we were able to see, even if it was only on the outside [services were in session].
    It has lovely twin spires and 64 windows. Critics say that it is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the Midwest. I'm no expert, but I believe that they speak the truth!

    In 1856, Catholics were granted their first Mission pastor, and by 1862, the first Catholic church was completed. Seven years later, the church's population had doubled; thus, in 1887 construction of the present Basilica was started. As photograph #3 indicates, in 1889, this church was dedicated. It took much foresight to build such a large structure. They had to use block and tackle of rope and pulleys to hoist materials to heights of 212 feet! The end product is magnificent. It took over two years to complete it.

    I found out that the term "Basilica is a Greek derivation from "Basileus" which means "a royal or kingly building. St Francis Xavier was the 12th church in the U.S. so honored. It is the ONLY church in a rural area so bestowed. This honor took place in 1956.

    Because it is a Basilica, it has its own Coat of Arms [located above the pulpit] has the colors of the United States flag [red, white, & blue] It contains the gothic spires of the Basilica, a sheaf of golden grain, and 3 ears of corn. All of that portion of the shield represents to town and state.
    The bottom portion of the shield represents St. Francis Xavier; it contains a bell, a galleon [he traveled from India to Japan and over the seven seas. It also has the statue of St. Francis himself.

    Can you believe that this church has 5,000 parishioners, and Dyersville's population is only 4,000!

    St. Francis Xavier Basilica, Dyersville, Iowa Sign for St. Francis Xavier Basilica St. Francis Xavier Basilica, 1888 cornerstone
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    Pieta Chapel

    by deecat Updated Jun 1, 2007

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    At the top of the climb of The Way of the Cross, we were thrilled to find the Pieta Chapel [which is open daily]. It was built in 1885 with funds that were left by Father Flammang and was dedicated in this memory. This particular chapel was modeled after the Chapel du Bildchen in Vianden, Luxembourg.

    Father served this parish starting in 1858. It's called "The Pieta Chapel" because it contains the statue of the Virgin Mary holding her dead son on her lap.

    The Way of the Cross consists of 14 brick shines with 14 pictures [lithographs] that depict the 14 scenes from the day of the crucifixion of Christ.

    This little chapel is just darling, and when you walk inside and see the blue walls, the Pieta, and read these lines, "Pardon the sheep and their not-so-clean habits [which you notice as you carefully walk the path]. They help keep the weeds and brush down", you just have to smile.

    The Pieta Chapel Lithograph on wall of chapel Inside the Pieta Chapel Message inside Pieta Chapel Jill admiring the panoramic view from Pieta ground
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    Luxembourg In America: St. Donatus, Iowa

    by deecat Updated Jun 1, 2007

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    The tiny town called St. Donatus, Iowa is called "Luxembourg in America". It is found nestled in a wooded valley in Jackson County, Iowa. It's about 15 miles south of Dubuque and 12 miles north of Bellevue. For such a small place, it has 20 sites on the National Register of Historic Places!

    St. Donatus is also referred to as an :"Historic French Village" because it originally had a French name that has always been misspelled "Tete Des Morts" (which means "Heads of Death"). This name was given to the village by a French explorer in the 1600's; he did so because at this spot, he found the remains of an Indian massacre.

    The inhabitants of St. Donatus have always been of Luxembourg descent. The first settler was John Noel {1838], and ten years later, there were several more Luxembourg families living here.

    The tourist information says that there are 18 of the original stone structures still standing in the town today (built in the 1850's). The stucco seen on the stone structures is typical of European homes. The stucco was used to seal the mortar between the stones as well as to protect the buildings from bad weather.

    Just as Luxembourg is a small coutry, St. Donatus is a small community. The people who live here are very proud of their Luxembourg heritage and still refer to St. Donatus as "Little Luxembourg in America"!

    Photographs:
    1. Gehlen Barn
    2. Gehlen House
    3. Memorial Garden
    4. St. Donatus Catholic Church
    5. Sign leading to Outdoor Way of the Cross

    Gehlen Barn Gehlen House Garden and Memorial St Donatus Catholic Church Outdoor Way of the Cross
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    Dyersville: Small Town Midwestern Town

    by deecat Written May 31, 2007

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    If you are looking for a small town that is friendly, progressive, & surrounded by beautiful countryside, then Dyersville, Iowa is the place to see. For a town of just 4,000 people, it offers a good deal to see and do.

    1. National Farm Toy Museum with 30,000 farm toys, trucks, and banks. It is a joy for serious collectors and for tourist who enjoy the unique. There is a 45-seat theater to see a 10-minute moved called, "Toys to Treasure". Highways 20 and 136. Open daily from 8 am to 6 pm at 1110 16th Avenue St. S.E., (563)875-2727.

    2. "Field of Dreams" Movie Site: See the individual tip

    3. Basilica of St. Francis Xavier: a 21-month interior restoration was finished in 2001. Open daily from sunup to sundown. Downtown, 104 3rd St. S.W. (563) 875-7325. See my individual tip.

    4. Becker Woodcarving Museum: Located 4 miles northeast of Dyersville, it is open May through October. Call (563) 875-2087 for an appointment.

    5. Dyer-Botsford Historical House & Doll Museum is the home of Dyersville's founder. It is a restored Victorian that houses a collection of over 1,000 dolls. It is open weekdays from 10 am to 4 pm; Saturday & Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm, May through November. Located at 331 1st Ave E. (563) 875-2414.

    6.Plaza Antique Mall is home to more than 200 antique and collectibles dealers. Open daily 10 am to 5 pm. Located across from the National Farm Toy Museum. (563) 875-8945.

    7. Four toy affiliated places: Evers Toy Store, Toy Collector Club of America, Toy Farmer Country Store, and Farm Toy Outlet Store and Restoration Center.

    There is a Colonial Inn, a Comfort Inn, a Super 8, and an Uptown Bed and Breakfast in Dyersville. The town boasts three parks, two golf courses, a Total Fitness Rec Center, an Aquatic Center. In addition, there are 16 places to eat in Dyersville, several Service Stations, and two grocery stores. Impressive for this size of a town!

    Quaint Streetlights in downtown Dyersville Basilica of St. Francis Xavier
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    Pine Creek Grist Mill

    by deecat Updated Jun 2, 2007

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    Click to see the school house and the bridge

    On the way to Muscatine, we went to Wilcat Den State Park to see The Pine Creek Grist Mill and the Melpine Schoolhouse

    After an "interesting" ride on back roads, we finally arrived. It was toward the end of the school year; thus, lots of classes of grade school children were on field trips here. We "tagged" along and listed to the tour guides.

    Note: I will have much more about this whole complex on my up-coming Muscatine pages.

    The mill was built on Pine Creek by Benjamin Nye in 1848 [it was the third mill he had built on this location because he kept outgrowing them]. They have some of the original machinery from the 1848 mill as well as newer machinery from 1927 that was added to increase production. 1927 was also the year that the State of Iowa purchased the mill from the Missel family. At that time, it became part of Wilcat Den State Park.

    In 1996, The Friends of Pine Creek Grist Mill became organized with the mission of restoring the mill to operational format and in preserving the heritage of the mill. With the help of the Dept of Natural Resources, the State Historical Society, and the community, the mill's foundation has been stabilized, the structure and dam have been repaired, and the machinery is now in working order.

    The Melpine one-room rural school is usually open on Sunday afternoons from one to five o'clock beginning in June. Because of the school children and their field trip, we were fortunate to see it inside and out. [I'm doing a tip about it in my Muscatine pages].

    Grist Mill is Open:
    May through October
    Wednesday through Sunday
    1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

    The Pine Creek Grist Mill Melpine Schoolhouse Old Iron Bridge
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    St. Donatus Catholic Church and Cemetery

    by deecat Written Jun 1, 2007

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    St. Donatus Catholic Church began in 1848 in a log church, and the second church was completed in 1851, but the current church was built in 1858. Its interior burned in 1907, but the exterior was not. Thus, restoration was done.

    This church is much as it was over 125 years ago. The Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation is also known as "Our Lady of Luxembourg who is patroness of Luxembourg. In the church, you will find her statue. There is also a St. Donatus Rectory with 14 room. It was first built in 1857 and once used as a church, a rectory, and a school room.

    Behind the church is a cemetery with beautiful and unusual tombstones. It's such a beautiful location for a cemetery. Jill and I roamed around looking at all the tombstones and checking the names and the dates.

    St. Donatus Catholic Church & Cemetery St. Donatus Catholic Church Stained Glass Windows in St. Donatus Church Statues in the St. Donatus Cemetery St. Donatus Catholic Church Cemetery
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    Outdoor Way of the Cross

    by deecat Updated Jun 1, 2007

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    One of the reasons that I wanted to visit St. Donatus, Iowa, was to visit The Outdoor Way of the Cross".

    This Way of the Cross is actually 14 brick alcoves placed in a meandering uphill fashion within lovely pines of Calvary Hill to Pieta Chapel. I've seen several "Stations of the Cross", but this one is most impressive. It's amazing what excellent condition the lithographs within each of the the brick alcoves are since they have been here since the1861.

    Jill and I wondered what would be at the top of the climb. We hoped that it would be worth the climb. Once you reach the Pieta Chapel, you will see a panoramic view of the picturesque valley and the village of St. Donatus below. It was certainly worth the walk!

    The Way of the Cross was built in 1861; the chapel was completed in 1885, and the St. Donatus Catholic Church was dedicated in 1860. Of course, all three of these structures are on the National Register of Historic Places.

    There is a Parish Museum that is open for tours, but only by appointment.

    St. Donatus Catholic Church One of 14 Stations of the Cross The Pieta Chapel Inside the Pieta Chapel Dee at Top of Outdoor Way of the Cross
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    Kaleidoscopes, tye-dye and Byron’s bar

    by ljtheraingirl Updated Jan 27, 2008

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    If you think Pomeroy, Iowa is a quiet town in the middle of the prairie with an activity level of- blink an eye and you will miss the town- THINK AGAIN!

    As a reporter and writer for an Iowa newspaper, my editor assigned me to write about the progress of Pomeroy, Iowa in 2007. My expectations were fairly low, and I was dragging my feet as my Mazda tires approached the edge of town. As a practitioner of Buddhism, I have realized that when my expectations are at their lowest, miraculous things tend to occur.

    I wasn’t entering a small town in Iowa; I was entering a colony of tye-dye imagination and art galore.

    There is a Grateful Dead theme in Byron's bar.
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    Silos & Smokestakes Nat'l Heritage Area

    by Toughluck Updated Oct 19, 2007

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    The entire northeast corner of Iowa is the a unique area of agriculture in the U.S. I've been through it hundreds, okay a couple dozen, times. In January, it can be bleak and dark. In August it'll roast your socks off. In spring, it's blustery and damp. Come autumn and it's sunny and cool. Each season, each road, offers a new experience. Here, as a Heritage Area, you can find unique places to stop and visit.

    No other region in the United States shares our rich agricultural legacy. From dairy farms and museums to vineyards and tractor assembly tours, there are practically endless agricultural adventures awaiting individual travelers as well as families.'

    VT's guide to the Heritage Area:
    Waterloo
    Cedar Rapids
    Dubuque
    Amana
    Ames
    Cedar Falls
    Davenport
    Dettendorf
    Decorah

    Town of Amana Town of Amana
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    Amana

    by Toughluck Written Oct 19, 2007

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    Six towns that have retained their rual charm and a proud history. Amana is located north of I-80 and offers a look into 19th Century America. The town of Amana is only a few blocks long, but you'll find museums, great restaurants and wonderful shops of American products.

    The Towns of Amana
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    The Little Brown Church in the Vale

    by BLSM Written Feb 25, 2003

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    This is the church that was inspired by a church hymn.
    After a stop in the town of Bradford, Iowa in about 1856 or so, William Pitt saw a bueatiful spot he though would be a perfect spot for a church. He wrote the a poem "Church in the Wildwood" and set it to music. He then forgot about it. The people in town also thought it would be a nice spot for a church so they build one there. And by chance happened to paint it brown becauce brown paint was cheap.
    Mr. Pitt returned to the area about 7 years later in 1862. When he saw the church, he got out the song and taught it to his students, who sang it at the dedication of the church. The church's address is now Nasuha, Iowa.

    The Church in the Wildwood
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    Awesome Building But you do not want to live here

    by BLSM Written Oct 26, 2002

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    This is one of the buildings of Anamosa State Penitentiary in Anamosa,Iowa. It is called the White Palace of the West. Construction was started on it in 1873 but much of the building process was continued up to the turn of the century(1900).

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    Maquoketa Caves State Park -- ...

    by reon80 Written Aug 26, 2002

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    Maquoketa Caves State Park -- you can walk, crawl, or climb through caves in this beautiful park. It is about 2 hours off of I-80, just go north on highway 61. It's beautiful and not too crowded, and the caves are amazing:) There is good camping at Horseshoe Pond, which is also off of Highway 61, actually in Maquoketa.

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    This is indeed a random...

    by reon80 Written Aug 26, 2002

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    This is indeed a random fact--did you all know that the I-80 truckstop is the world's largest truckstop? I recommend stopping there for the sheer stupidity of it--people from miles around come to eat and shop at this truckstop off Interstate 80 which houses a souvenir store, fast food outlets, a sit-down restaurant, a tv lounge, shower rooms, and, most notably, a small chapel in which you can get married anytime from 5 am to midnite! Isn't that random? Stop on your way across Iowa!

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Iowa Off The Beaten Path

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