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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Iowa Falls, Iowa

Our plan was to head for Houston, Texas. It was definitely warm and we have friends there. Most people think of the drive from Minneapolis to Houston as a long one day drive or an easy two day drive. We have more imagination than most. I wanted to visit Gladbrook, Iowa, Marengo, Iowa and St. Louis, Missouri. These stops are all related to a book I am working on about the early history of Burroughs computers.

The package from DirecTV arrived on Tuesday morning. It was quickly installed and should make our house-and-cat-sitter much happier. We made it as far as Iowa Falls, Iowa, on the first day. This would leave us with a short drive to Gladbrook the next morning. The 150 miles or so we had traveled from Minneapolis to the south makes quite a difference in climate. From Minneapolis to the north, the ground remains snow-covered from about late November until sometime in March, each year. In central Iowa, snow comes and goes throughout much of the winter. By the time we had reached Iowa Falls the crazy snow sculptures hanging from the roofs in the Twin Cities had given way to nearly bare ground.
HomeForAWhile-7 Iowa-01 Iowa-02

Iowa Falls is a town of about 5,000 in the rich black-earth farmland along the Iowa River. We drove into the downtown area for dinner. We noted a large Cargill seed-oil plant and several railroad tracks. It turns out that Iowa Falls is a crossroads for the Union Pacific and the Canadian National rail lines. This location on two rail lines and the river must have made the city a very wealthy community in the early 1900s judging from the homes lining the broad Main Street divided with an attractive center boulevard.

Dinner was at Camp David, situated on the Iowa River. I had the obligatory Iowa pork chop.

The architectural gem of the community is its movie theater. This historic Metropolitan Opera House dates from 1899. It was restored a few years ago (at considerable expense according to one local businessman that I spoke with) and is worth a look if you are in the neighborhood.

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