Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Friday, September 4, 2015

Country Life: Iowa Summer in Guthrie County

Another installment from the tourism blog I wrote for the four county region I live in.

Summer in Iowa can be quite a HOT experience. Hot and humid to be exact. Why my friend Sarah and I decided to start our tourism visits during the hottest part of the year, usually to primitive/historical buildings and sites with no air conditioning we will never know, but we did....... and in spite of our suffering, you get to enjoy our day from the comfort of your home or office.

With so many interesting places to visit in Guthrie County it was hard to fit much into one day, especially when we started out with one of the biggest attractions early in the day. But anyway, we started off the morning with a drive through Nations Bridge Park.

The park had several campers spending the weekend but we went through pretty early- there weren't too many people out and about just yet. But it is a very nice campground with fishing, hiking, a playground and lots of other activities to keep a family busy. They even have wifi in case you can't imagine your life unplugged.

After the campground we moved on to the city of Panora, and our first stop was the Raccoon River Valley Trailhead. The Raccoon River Valley Trail covers over 50 miles of bike and walking trail from Jefferson in Greene County to Clive in Dallas County. Lots of fun events take place along the trail during the year such as the Baccoon Run, a bacon-themed bike ride, and winter rides.

The trailhead in Panora is close to the halfway point. The day we visited, in spite of the heat, there were several riders on the trail, braver than us, that's for sure! I am a firm believer in air conditioner when it's 99 degrees outside.

After leaving the trail we stopped at the Historical Village in Panora. It was as if we were transported back in time.

There is a main building where you check in and serves as a museum itself and can walk around and view amazing displays from preserved animals to old Fords to Civil War registries.

Just one of many stunning preserved animals  on display
This Civil War Registry listed Iowa soldiers serving.

Antique "rooms" are set up throughout the building that are built around a theme- a canning kitchen, a ladies dressing room, a switchboard where a phone operator once worked, military tributes, an old dental office, and a courthouse display, just to name a few.

What a kitchen might have looked like 100 years ago

Antique canning supplies

Old court docket books line the walls of the courthouse display

Primitive dentistry- scary!

This was like a War Yearbook- very interesting
Can't imagine how this poor operator managed, and what she
would think of today's cellphone world
Stones, broken pottery and gemstones native to and discovered in Iowa are also on display. Antique items of all kinds fill this main building. But it's the village that proves to be a real treat.

Gemstones native to Iowa

Different rocks and pottery pieces

Moths and butterflies native to Iowa are on display

I thought he looked pretty cuddly!

A large building houses a huge variety of antique farm implements, old vehicles, a coal mine display,

and a covered wagon as west-bound settlers would have traveled in.

Next door is the Blacksmith Shop. One look around the perfectly recreated workshop made me glad I never chose that as a profession.

Next door is the village General Store. The store is filled with everything a family would have needed, some basic appliances, foodstuffs, gardening items, a post office counter and equipment for canning and preserving food. Baskets, cookware and all sorts of kitchen tools are also displayed.

The general store had everything needed for the "modern kitchen"

Home canning was a necessity in those days

The old pressure canners were MASSIVE

The village's attorney and abstractor's office is next door, and it looks much like I expected.

Docket books, tract books and registry books line the bookshelves. An impressive wooden desk serves as the work area for the attorney who once owned this practice. Even still, the desk had a small stack of old business cards.

Sarah Gomez, Esq.

The building is an original, as are most of the buildings in the village, and a photo album is there so that you can see how the building was prepared and moved to its current location in the Historical Village. I really enjoyed this building, as an abstractor for many years during my city life, it was like visiting an old friend.

Moving around the corner we came to the Newspaper Office. Like all offices of it's time, it is sparse in furniture and had drawers and drawers of printing stamps. Stacks of old newspapers are displayed as well as a plaque describing the history of the building.

The oldest building in Panora is the next building in the village.

It was surprising to see how much function a pioneer family fit into a one room house. Heated by a massive fireplace that also served as a heat source for cooking, the furnishings were again sparse, and multi functional. It was interesting to see that this house had been sided with modern siding at one time, and all that was removed before the house was moved to the village.

The massive stone fireplace provided not only heat but
a place to cook and prepare meals

Across the park from the house is the Train Station.

Actual railroad tracks are placed in the village to allow the display of railroad cars and repair/maintenance equipment. In the freight area of the station, luggage and trunks and crates stand floor to ceiling, waiting to be loaded onto a train.

A large seating area lined with benches and heated by a wood burning stove would have been bustling with passengers decades ago.

Across the tracks from the train station is the village church, and as expected, it is a sparse building built for the purpose of worship and little fanfare. It's currently displayed with a wedding theme, and bride and groom mannequins at the altar.

The old one room school house is the last building in the village. If you've ever seen the movie "A Christmas Story" this room is just like that. There is an outhouse directly outside the door (complete with a bucket of corncobs) and an area for washing up right inside the door. Old school books, toys and chalkboards line the room. Old canning jars full of marbles and jacks sit on shelves filed with old books.


The historical village is a fantastic glimpse into Iowa's small town past. Growing up in the city you really don't get to see how difficult life must have been for folks who worked hard on farms and what the life of the farmer's family was like. This village answers all those questions and more.

No comments:

Post a Comment