And the return home…

We woke up early on Sunday and hit the road just after dawn. We were going to try and hit as many counties as we could and get home by noon so we could relax the rest of the day.

Trip 2d

  1. (A) The Forty
  2. (B) Leon
  3. (C) Mount Ayr
  4. (D) Bedford
  5. (E) Corning
  6. (F) Creston
  7. (G) Osceola
  8. (H) Indianola
  9. (I) Des Moines

A total of 201.6 miles and 4 hours and 51 minutes of driving time.

We headed south out of The Forty and headed through LeRoy and Garden Grove on our way to Leon, our first stop.

17. Decatur County Courthouse. Leon, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Decatur County Courthouse in Leon

18. Ringgold County Courthouse. Mount Ayr, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Ringgold County Courthouse in Mount Ayr

This was an interesting one. The night before they had a huge barbeque contest on the square. It was a real challenge to find a perspective without tents and grills in the shot.

19. Taylor County Courthouse. Bedford, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Taylor County Courthouse in Bedford

This was a cool one. Houses all around the courthouse, not your typical downtown setting. Using the panoramic photo tool in Windows Live Photo Gallery has produced some awesome effects here. Check out the stop sign, and its pole. Also, how the power lines seem to rise instead of sag.

20. Adams County Courthouse. Corning, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Adams County Courthouse in Corning

The park in front of this courthouse is pretty neat. Houses on either side of the courthouse. It sits on top of one of the highest hills nearby. Business and a small downtown section are actually “down” town.

21. Union County Courthouse. Creston, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Union County Courthouse in Creston

It was hard to get a good angle on this one. It’s so massive and it sits real close to the curb. The businesses nearby are in large buildings as well.

22. Clarke County Courthouse. Osceola, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Clarke County Courthouse in Osceola

Not a fan of this one. The building is tiny and unimpressive. And the trees have completely taken over the park around it.

23. Warren County Courthouse. Indianola, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Warren County Courthouse in Indianola

The current total:

County Map 2c

Posted in Courthouses, Iowa | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Capitol, A Cemetery, and, of course, Courthouses

The plan was simple, get back to Iowa and go to as many courthouses as we could in the southern part of the state. We planned on staying the night at ‘The Forty,’ which is forty acres in Lucas County owned by Jami’s Grandma.

Trip 2c

  1. (A) St. Louis
  2. (B) Jefferson City
  3. (C) La Plata
  4. (D) Bloomfield
  5. (E) Albia
  6. (F) Centerville
  7. (G) Corydon
  8. (H) Chariton
  9. (I) The Forty

A total of 427.1 miles and 9 hours and 15 minutes driving time.

We left St. Louis and headed west on U.S. Highway 50 which took us directly to Jefferson City, the state capitol of Missouri.

IMG_0540 Stitch

IMG_0563 Stitch IMG_0580 IMG_0553

We headed north on U.S. Highway 63 until we got to La Plata, Missouri. The Webber family had settled here in the 1800’s before our branch made the trek north to Waterloo. The cemetery in La Plata was filled with distant relations. I walked up and down every row and photographed every stone that had a familiar name. The highlights:

John Calvin Webber and LaVara Gross; my Great, Great Grandparents.


Addison Gurley Webber and Mary Ann; my Great, Great, Great Grandparents.

DSC00435 DSC00436

There were 64 other headstones, but since this about courthouses and not family history, I digress. Which brings us to the next stop on our tour:

12. Davis County Courthouse. Bloomfield, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Davis County Courthouse in Bloomfield

13. Monroe County Courthouse. Albia, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Monroe County Courthouse in Albia

14. Appanoose County Courthouse. Centerville, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Appanoose County Courthouse in Centerville

15. Wayne County Courthouse. Corydon, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Wayne County Courthouse in Corydon

16. Lucas County Courthouse. Chariton, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Lucas County Courthouse in Chariton

This was a long day and we didn’t spend any time looking for things along the way. We drove the shortest route possible to each destination.

The current total:

County Map 2b

Posted in Courthouses, Iowa | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sidetracked by the St. Louis Cardinals

Leaving Keokuk, we had to cross over to Illinois because the U.S. Highway 61 at the Des Moines River was flooded. We drove due south from Keokuk and crossed into Missouri at Hannibal.

After a missed turn, I realized why they put electronic compasses in new vehicles. A detour of just over an hour showed me parts of Missouri I’ll never see again. I say showed me because Jami was sleeping:


Because of my inability to read a sign saying “U.S. 61, Next Left”,  we had to skip the Budweiser Brewery Tour in order to make it to the game on time.

View from the parking ramp:


When we got to the game, we got food. If anyone is curious, this is what $9 nachos look like:


They were breathtaking! The drinks you see in the background… $4.50… each.

Our seats were amazing. The high temperature that day was 95. We were in the shade on the second level directly over first base.

IMG_0460 Stitch

There were doors behind us to a concourse with all kinds of eateries, and every time someone would open the door, a big blast of cooled air would waft over us.

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Phillies. July 22, 2010. 1:00p.m.

Ryan Howard at bat.


Albert Pujols at bat.


Pujols foul ball. You can see the ball behind the ump.


Manager Tony Larussa getting mad.


We almost saw a no-hitter. The game went 11 innings tied at zero until the Phillies scored two runs. Placido Polanco hit a home-run and Jayson Werth drove in Raul Ibanez on a double. The Cardinals couldn’t answer in the bottom.


Cardinals lost this one 2-0.

Post Game:


IMG_0522 Stitch

After the game, we walked down the hill to the Mississippi River and the Gateway Arch.

2010 St. Louis Trip 046 Stitch 2010 St. Louis Trip 045 2010 St. Louis Trip 035 Stitch

2010 St. Louis Trip 009 Stitch

2010 St. Louis Trip 001 Stitch

So after that brief detour, we continue with the counties. But first, the Missouri State Capitol.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

On the way to St. Louis…

So for my birthday, Jami bought us two tickets to a St. Louis Cardinals game. We planned a little vacation that would swing us through the southern two tiers of counties.

Trip 2a

  1. (A) Des Moines
  2. (B) Oskaloosa
  3. (C) Ottumwa
  4. (D) Keosauqua
  5. (E) Fort Madison
  6. (F) Keokuk

A total of 192.5 miles and 4 hours and 14 minutes of driving time.

8. Mahaska County Courthouse. Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Composite photo of the Mahaska County Courthouse in Oskaloosa

This was our first challenge. We arrived here early in the afternoon on a Wednesday. There were cars everywhere on the square. That being said, this turned out to be one of my favorite pictures.

9. Wapello County Courthouse. Ottumwa, Iowa.

Composite photo of the Wapello County Courthouse in Ottumwa

Wapello County presented another challenge. Again, in the middle of the afternoon, as well as it physical location. The courthouse sits on a hill and there is no good spot to get a great picture. Add to that the overcast skies, and I feared I would be unimpressed with the results.

After the courthouse, we headed to Eldon, Iowa. Home of the American Gothic House. This is the house that Grant Wood used for his most famous painting… you know which one I mean, the old couple with the pitchfork…

2010 St. Louis Trip 230

10. Van Buren County Courthouse. Keosauqua, Iowa.

Composite photo of the Van Buren County Courthouse in Keosauqua

This one was weird. We struggled to find it… well, not so much find it, as verify that it was the courthouse. There were no signs anywhere. This simple two story building looked more like a house. The large trees in the lawn (not shown) prevented a panoramic view of the building. I got close with the camera and the resulting image has some quirky perspective changes that I’ve come to really like. It also had the bonus effect of making the building seem much larger than it really is.

11A. Lee County Courthouse (North). Fort Madison, Iowa.

Composite photo of the Lee County Courthouse in Fort Madison

Fort Madison is also home to the Iowa State Penitentiary. Behind the Prison, on a very high bluff overlooking the Mississippi river, you get this view:

2010 St. Louis Trip 066 Stitch

11B. Lee County Courthouse (South). Keokuk, Iowa.

Composite photo of the Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk

This one turned out great. After checking in to a hotel, we headed across the Mississippi into Illinois and drove up the river to Nauvoo. View along the way:

2010 St. Louis Trip 079 Stitch

And in downtown Keokuk, the most awesome bar name ever:

2010 St. Louis Trip 077

The current total:

County Map 2a

Posted in Courthouses, Iowa | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Courthouses, Iowa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment