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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



When I left you last week, we were sitting peacefully on the banks of Plum Creek. Although it was hard to leave there we loaded up the van and headed back south about forty-five minutes to Worthington and the real gem of the county, the Pioneer Village there.

Located adjacent to the county fairgrounds this five acre complex is filled with thirty eight different buildings of historic interest. From a one room schoolhouse to the town saloon and from the depot to the fire station, the buildings are filled with historic and accurate furnishings and period artifacts. If you are a fan of Living History farms and especially the town of Walnut Hill there, than think of Worthington as Walnut Hill on steroids.

To be real honest this stop worried me a bit, as although my kids tend to be a little history nerdy because I’ve drug them to every stop in the middle of a dirt path, I wondered if maybe another historic site might be a bit much in one day trip. My worries should have been for naught as they walked through the small welcome center (where admission to the “town” is paid) to find two antique hand propelled reel mowers. They grabbed a hold of them and began to mow like their lives depended on it. I scratched my head because if I would ask them to hop on the rider and mow they would look at me like I was speaking a foreign language. You can bet that I’m going to search every yard sale and flea market to find one now.

The kids hit every building, commenting on how interesting everything was, except for the saloon which Hannah did not like because of all of the stuffed animals (and let me tell you there were a ton!) that hung on the walls. One thing I did find interesting was how small their town hall was. It wasn’t like the city hall as we think of it today, but the place where plays and orators would be. I suppose that growing up near the Dexter Roundhouse has spoiled me a bit.

We left there and made one final stop on our way down Highway 61, just a few miles south of the state line. Hawkeye Point is the highest point in Iowa. When we were younger you probably remember being taught that the Ocheyedan Mound was the highest point, and at the time that is what we all thought, but that was before laser levels and better topography technology came along. The farm that the highest point sits on is now owned by the county and is a free park (along with campground across the road) and features an old wooden corncrib that is now an interpretive center and a large silo that is used for ice climbing in the wintertime. A small mosaic covers the platform at the exact highest point in Iowa. (1670 feet above sea level for those keeping score at home.) Paige, who is the vertically challenge member of our family, climbed up and reveled in the fact that for a brief second before her younger brother stepped up next to her she was the tallest person in Iowa. Hawkeye Point is free to visit, but definitely one of those places that you can mark of the “I’ve been there list”.

The last of our adventure took place the next day in Okoboji where Hannah (the banking guru in our family) and I took time to visit the Higgins Museum of Banking. This odd little place doesn’t see much traffic, but for the price of a donation it holds more than its fair share of value. It holds the largest collection of national bank notes anywhere in the United States. In the early 1900’s, National Banks would have their own notes printed including the name of the bank and were often very fancily decorated on the front and the back. No standard Washington on these gems, as some carry elaborate engravings of long forgotten times in the history of those communities. Banks printed these as a way for their customers to learn about history and in some cases are truly works of art. With bank notes from every state and every county in Iowa, the museum is easy to navigate and contains other banking items, from and old safe to an ATM machine. We were very interested in looking at the notes from The Dexter National Bank as well as the many picture postcard they have displayed from each county there.

That is one of the wonderful things about living in Iowa. One never has to travel too far, even if it is just across the border, to see something new and interesting. Of course at the end of a travel of any length as always there is sure something to be said for being at home again. See you next week…remember, we’re all in this together.