Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring in Iowa City, Lynnville & Pella

We stopped Wednesday afternoon at the Dominie H.P. Scholte house in Pella to check out the progress of tulips in the public garden behind it.

About two months after we first decided to do it, Marilyn and I (with Betty riding shotgun) finally got around Wednesday to hand-delivering two rare Lucas County atlases, one from 1896 and the other, 1912, to University Libraries in Iowa City to be digitalized and conserved. It was a beautiful day; we stopped here and there to snoop on the way home; and the atlases themselves will follow us back to Chariton later this year.

When the project is complete, images of our maps will be available online as part of  the Iowa Maps Digital Collection, which can be accessed here. In return for sharing them, the University Libraries conservation department will build archival boxes for the two atlases, as well as making minor repairs.

Mary McInroy, head of the University Libraries Map Collection, very kindly spent a good deal of time with us and allowed us to snoop to our hearts content, so it was an interesting morning (for people who love maps).

What I did not do in Iowa City, although we poked around for a while, was take photos --- although it would have been a great day to do so. But the University of Iowa Campus, which because of where it was established and how it grew merges with downtown Iowa City, is not an especially friendly place for day-tripping tourists when classes are in session. Non-football weekends and summer-session months are better.

Established in 1847, the University moved into Iowa's first state capitol building, Old Capitol,  when lawmakers moved west to Des Moines soon after 1855. Old Capitol and the Pentacrest, containing four early University buildings in addition to the Capitol in a park-like setting, remain at the heart of the campus. But subsequent growth has involved swallowing old neighborhoods and sprawling on both sides of the Iowa River in a configuration I don't mind but that some find disconcerting. It is definately a place for pedestrians, however, not drivers.

I earned two degrees here, one pre- and the other post-Vietnam, and always plan to get back during a lull in the academic year to spend time just poking around again rather than flying in and out for a meeting or event --- if I ever get around to actually doing that, I'll take photos.

The pen is indeed mighty at the Iowa Department of Transportation rest area along Interstate 80's eastbound lanes just west of Iowa City.

Headed in along eastbound I-80, I did take a shot of the new rest area just west of Iowa City. Both the east-bound and west-bound rest areas here have educational themes because of their proximity to Iowa City, but I especially like east-bound, which focuses on writing. Probably because of the world-renowned University of Iowa Writers Workshop. Here, the pen really is mightier than the sword in a sculptural sense at least; and even the picnic pavilions feature huge panels pierced with the writing of various poets and writers. It's a cool place.

Wagaman Mill as seen from the footbridge across the North Skunk River.

Anyhow, we headed home after lunch, stopping first at the Wagaman Mill, dating from 1848 and located on the North Skunk River at the end of main street in the little Jasper County Quaker town of Lynnville and operated as a museum by the Lynnville Historical Society and the Jasper County Conservation Board.

We were there to take a look specifically at museum signage, but took a little time just to wander around and admire the river view.

The mill from the north side of the river.

The next stop was Pella, just to check out the progress of the tulips --- if all goes well most of the thousands upon thousands of carefully chosen tulips will burst into full bloom just in time for this year's Tulip Time, May 5-7, one of the nation's biggest festivals of Dutchness, and everything looked promising.

The Scholte House rambles along for almost half a block along the north side of the Pella town square.

I especially like the public garden behind the Scholte House --- the first part of which was built during 1847-48 as the home of Dominie H.P. Scholte, Pella's founder. Although a few early bulbs were out what was most evident around town, and in the Scholte garden, was potential.

Until the tulips come out, statuary is the principal attraction in the public garden near the Scholte House.

Tulip Time is a great event, but can be a little much if you're not into either wooden shoes or multitudes of people, so I'll probably head back up to Pella to admire the tulips in bloom a day or two before or after the festival itself.

The magnolias, including this one at the Scholte House, have burst into full bloom across southern Iowa this week.

After that, we finished up the last brief leg of the trip home through Knoxville, since the shortcut road across Red Rock Dam still is closed. I always think of Lucas County's second permanent settler, William McDermott, when headed home from Pella. That old boy, who planted his family first where Pella developed once the Dutch arrived, always said he moved on  south to Lucas County because all those Hollanders made him nervous. Quite frankly, they make me a little nervous, too --- all that righteousness represented by the 1st through the 37th Reformed Church --- but Pella is still a pretty town.


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