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