Iowa has many unique attractions


It turns out that there are plenty of unique attractions in Iowa, according to the book “Oddball Iowa, A Guide to Some Really Strange Places.”

For about ten years I got to do some traveling around our state when I wrote features for an Iowa magazine. It was fun, and that’s when I decided that our state is really way too big. Depending on where I was going, it could take me a half-day just to get there, and I was still within the borders of Iowa! Sometimes I wondered what the men who platted out states in the Midwest were thinking.

My purpose on those trips was to see people, not attractions, so I’m sure I missed a lot. I wrote about those people, not attractions. I don’t believe I was ever sent to southeast Iowa, though, so I’m not real familiar with that part of our lovely state, and I’ve never spent much time there.

If I had, maybe I would have been to such places as Maharishi University of Management near Fairfield, where students practice yogic flying inside the Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge. And I could take in Snake Alley in Burlington, said to be the crookedest street in the world according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Most of us have probably been lucky enough to walk across a swinging bridge. If you’re like me, that’s about one time too many. But if you care to travel to Columbus Junction in southeast Iowa, you can cross Lovers Leap Bridge. First constructed in 1886, the 262-foot bridge connects Third and Fourth Streets. My book reports that the bridge swings a lot both back and forth and side to side, especially if more than one person is on it at the same time.

It sounds like an attraction I could see and not experience.

Also in southeast Iowa, you can take in a mule cemetery near Oskaloosa. It’s on the Nelson Homestead Pioneer Farm and Craft Museum. The two Civil War mules were buried there–one of the few mule cemeteries in our country—in 1888 and 1891.

In my sixth-grade Iowa History class, I remember learning about pearl buttons that came from Muscatine, at one time the Pearl Button Capital of the World thanks to clam shells found there in the Mississippi River. The button boom–which at one time boasted 40+ factories in town that employed half the city’s population–lasted from the late 1800s until the Great Depression, but on your tour of southeast Iowa you can learn about the industry at the Pearl Button Museum in Muscatine.

There’s so much to see in oddball Iowa! When our beautiful white snow is finally gone to be replaced by green, it could be a perfect time for a stay-cation to discover what’s really out there.