It all started one Saturday in June…

We got this idea one day. We thought, “Let’s go to every county and take a photo of every courthouse.”

Seemed like an innocent enough idea. Sure, there’s 99 counties. And since Lee County also has a North and South courthouse, there are 100 courthouses. That’s a lot of courthouses. That’s a lot of driving.

The thing about this task is that there really is no good way to begin. So, before we started, we decided to lay out a couple of ground rules.

  1. Avoid the interstate if at all possible.
  2. Every photo is actually a composite of multiple photos. If you look closely in some pictures, you can see where they don’t match up perfectly.
  3. Jami appears in every courthouse photo. Think “Where’s Waldo?”
  4. Find the “other things” along the way.

So I sat down at the computer and I came up with a plan for a one-day trip:Trip 1

  1. (A) Des Moines
  2. (B) Adel
  3. (C) Guthrie Center
  4. (D) Jefferson
  5. (E) Carroll
  6. (F) Audubon
  7. (G) Greenfield
  8. (H) Winterset

A total of 276.7 miles and 7 hours and 38 minutes of driving time.

So here we go:

1. Dallas County Courthouse. Adel, Iowa.

Composite photo of the Dallas County Courthouse in Adel

We had to bring Rosie along.

Rosie at the Dallas County Courthouse in Adel

Along the way to Guthrie Center, we drove through Redfield. You can find this neat little rock formation in the city park there. It’s called Hanging Rock, and it really does appear to hang over the water.

Hanging Rock formation in Redfield City Park

Just upstream from Hanging Rock is the Redfield Dam.

Composite Photo of Redfield Dam

On our way to Guthrie Center, we passed through the tiny hamlet of Monteith. We caught a glimpse of their City Hall and had to turn around for a photo…

Montieth City Hall

2. Guthrie County Courthouse. Guthrie Center, Iowa.

Composite Photo of Guthrie County Courthouse in Guthrie Center

3. Greene County Courthouse. Jefferson, Iowa.

Composite photo of the Greene County Courthouse in Jefferson

This was a welcome surprise. On the lawn of the Greene County Courthouse is the 14-story Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower. The money to build the tower was donated by the Mahanay family on the condition that the tower would be built. It’s modeled off a similar one in Florida. The Mahanay family made most of their fortune selling medical equipment.

Greene County Courthouse and Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower in JeffersonRosie and Jami on the Greene County Courthouse Lawn in Jefferson

4. Carroll County Courthouse. Carroll, Iowa.

Carroll County Courthouse

After stopping in Carroll, we headed to Coon Rapids. I heard of a suspension bridge and we set out to find it.

Chad looking for the Suspension Bridge in Coon RapidsJami in Coon Rapids

After consulting maps and wading in the Middle Raccoon River, we found the bridge in Riverside Park.

Pedestrian Suspension Bridge in Coon RapidsChad and Rosie on the Suspension Bridge in Coon Rapids

5. Audubon County Courthouse. Audubon, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Audobon County Courthouse

It’s not a trip to Audubon without visiting Albert the Bull. Albert is an obnoxiously large bull.

Albert the Bull in Audobon

Just south of Exira, is a little park called the Plow-in-the-Oak Park. The story goes that a group of new recruits for the Union Army during the Civil Ware were marching past a farmer in his field. When he saw the troops marching by, he leaned his plow against a small oak sapling. By the time he returned from the war, the tree had grown around the plow.

Plow in the Oak south of ExiraPlow in the Oak south of Exira

East of Brayton is a neat little spot. A tree grows right in the middle of an intersection. There’s a story of how a surveyor used a switch he cut from a tree to mark the corner of a section and the switch started growing.

The Tree in the Middle of the Road

This is Slayton’s Rock. Located just south of Casey. The rock was found in a field and hauled on a custom sled to this spot.

Slayton's Rock, a 500,000 boulder, south of Casey

As I turned from Slayton’s Rock, I saw this vista. Wind turbines as far as the eye can see.

Windmills in Adair County, viewed from Slayton's Rock

6. Adair County Courthouse. Greenfield, Iowa.

Composite photo of the Adair County Courthouse in Greenfield

On the way to Winterset, we saw lots of signs for covered bridges, which led us to the Roseman Bridge.

Roseman Covered Bridge Southwest of Winterset

7. Madison County Courthouse. Winterset, Iowa.

Composite Photo of Madison County Courthouse in Winterset

In the very back of the Winterset City Park, there’s a little tower that overlooks a broad valley. It’s called “Clark Tower.”

Clark Tower in Winterset City Park

View from Clark Tower in Winterset City Park

The total so far:

County Map 1

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1 Response to It all started one Saturday in June…

  1. Excellent blog! I’m a fellow Iowan, and it’s nice seeing all of these photos. Thanks for putting it all together.

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