Is This Heaven? No, It’s Iowa.

This past week I spent some time in Iowa. I started in Council Bluffs on the western border with Nebraska, and later I made my way to Davenport on the opposite side of the state. It was a quick trip and I didn’t have a lot of time to sight-see. I took a few photos that I thought were worthy of preserving for my memories, for when the day comes that my memory is not so good.

Sunshine on the park in downtown Council Bluffs, IA.

Sunshine on the park in downtown Council Bluffs, IA.

The Union Pacific Railroad Museum is in downtown Council Bluffs, and if you go there looking for trains you will be disappointed, because there aren’t any. But it does have some interesting exhibits.

One of three original Golden Spikes used in the ceremony joining the east and west sections of the first trans-continental railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah.

A part of the museum is dedicated to passenger train travel in the 1940’s and 1950’s, which I gather was the heyday. They have some mock-up’s I found interesting, as well as a little cheesy.

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The Bar Car

Coach

Coach

My family traveled by train several times when I was a boy, but I remember eating in the dining car only once. My mother thought it was too expensive. A steak, potatoes and a salad was less than $3. Maybe she was right. That’s more than $25 today, adjusted for inflation.

The Dining Car

The Dining Car

The Haymarket Historic District in Council Bluffs.

The Haymarket Historic District in Council Bluffs.

A beautiful old Council Bluffs home that caught my eye.

A beautiful old Council Bluffs home that caught my eye.

Council Bluffs’ most famous resident seems to have been Grenville Dodge, a Civil War general, Indian fighter, one-time Congressman and, most importantly, chief engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad during the building of the first trans-continental line. His home is a National Historic Landmark.

The Council Bluffs home of Grenville M. Dodge.

The Council Bluffs home of Grenville M. Dodge.

After two days in Council Bluffs it was time to move on to Davenport, so I packed my car and headed east on Interstate 80. There is not a lot to see on the drive across Iowa this time of year. In the summer, corn will render the rolling landscape emerald green as far as the eye can see, but in late April, before the fields are planted, there are only muted shades of brown.

DavenportRiverHDR2

Looking across the Mississippi River at Davenport, Iowa.

The Mississippi River flows through Davenport, and I found it odd that on the Davenport side there is no real river bank to speak of. It is much like being on the shore of a lake, except that the lake is moving swiftly past you. Flooding is an occasional hazard, as I saw during my visit. Parts of downtown were still behind make-shift walls of sandbags.

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Mississippi River over its banks.

I was struck by the number of old homes in Davenport that are literally rotting away. This is not a judgement on their owners. The cost of maintaining these relics must be astronomical, and anyone who takes on the challenge should be applauded. The house pictured below needs its share of work, but it’s in better shape than a lot of others. I believe this is the home of Gomez and Morticia Addams.

One of many ornate but decaying old homes on the bluffs in Davenport, Iowa.

One of many ornate but decaying old homes on the bluffs in Davenport, Iowa.

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An old mansion on a Davenport hilltop. It may be a banquet hall now.

And across the river in Rock Island, Illinois, there is this…..

One could ask why.

One could ask why.

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About Truman

I find myself on the downside of my sixtieth year, older but not old, wiser but not wise, and still wondering what I want to be when I grow up.
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One Response to Is This Heaven? No, It’s Iowa.

  1. Aw, I have family near Council Bluffs! You captured the best of it.

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