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.
- Avoid the interstate if at all possible.
- 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.
- Jami appears in every courthouse photo. Think “Where’s Waldo?”
- Find the “other things” along the way.
- (A) Des Moines
- (B) Adel
- (C) Guthrie Center
- (D) Jefferson
- (E) Carroll
- (F) Audubon
- (G) Greenfield
- (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.
We had to bring Rosie along.
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.
Just upstream from Hanging Rock is the 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…
2. Guthrie County Courthouse. Guthrie Center, Iowa.
3. Greene County Courthouse. Jefferson, Iowa.
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.
4. Carroll County Courthouse. Carroll, Iowa.
After stopping in Carroll, we headed to Coon Rapids. I heard of a suspension bridge and we set out to find it.
After consulting maps and wading in the Middle Raccoon River, we found the bridge in Riverside Park.
5. Audubon County Courthouse. Audubon, Iowa.
It’s not a trip to Audubon without visiting Albert the Bull. Albert is an obnoxiously large bull.
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.
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.
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.
As I turned from Slayton’s Rock, I saw this vista. Wind turbines as far as the eye can see.
6. Adair County Courthouse. Greenfield, Iowa.
On the way to Winterset, we saw lots of signs for covered bridges, which led us to the Roseman Bridge.
7. Madison County Courthouse. Winterset, Iowa.
In the very back of the Winterset City Park, there’s a little tower that overlooks a broad valley. It’s called “Clark Tower.”
The total so far: