IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co. Misc. Historical Items

Historic Iowa Landmarks Dot Route Of Motorists Visiting Upper Mississippi Area

Tour Itinerary from Waukon takes traveler to 80-year-old log cabin, ice cave, huge underground lake.
By Florence Clark

McGregor- A motor tour route of particular appeal for early fall travel describes a circle through Allamakee county and up the Mississippi and Upper Iowa rivers into Winneshiek County. The region doubtless has more untamed scenery and more reminders of primitive days than any other portion of the state.

Autumn is suggested as a most favorable time because a few short excursions off paved and graveled roads should be made to see the wild area at its wild best, and by-ways are likely to be kindest to the car in the fall.

Waukon is a good starting point. Take No. 9 from there to Lansing, a beautiful drive, “the road of a thousand curves” they call it. At Lansing, turn north along the Father of Waters. The road parallels the river for thirteen miles to New Albin, skirting the base of a range of bluffs capped with striking rock formations.

About halfway to New Albin a path leads down over the river bank to “Indian Cave,” pronounced by archaeologists one of the most interesting Indian relics in Iowa. The walls are carved with Indian Pictographs, a large one of a buffalo, substantiating perhaps the claim that northeastern Iowa was once a buffalo range.

Eighty Year Old Log Cabin- Log Cabins are passed on the drive up the Mississippi. One of them, 80 years old, is still occupied and has a spring in the dooryard.

At New Albin where the Upper Iowa River enters the Mississippi is the famous iron marker, erected in ’49 by Captain Thomas Lee family of Virginia, to establish the Iowa-Minnesota boundary. The motorist may park his car besides the monument, have the motor running in Minnesota while he sits in the automobile in Iowa, and gazes east on Wisconsin. (see also: Iron post Landmark)

From New Albin, a graveled road winds southwest through the Upper Iowa River valley past “Sleepy Hollow,” and northwest to the vicinity of the quaint villages of Dorchester and Quandahl. Dorchester on the Upper Iowa, fifteen miles from a railroad has the distinction of being Iowa’s most inland town. Several log buildings are to be seen in and around the village. A unique attraction is “Coppersmith’s,” a typical old-time country store. The same family has conducted the business in the same stone building in the same way for seventy-seven years. The stone doorstep is worn thin by the feet of customers.

Waterpower Mill On Bear Creek- At Quandahl a farmers’ creamery literally hands on the rock palisades of a tumultuous stream, Bear Creek. Ice cold waters from the springs above flow directly through the creamery, giving the industry its name, Arctic Springs Creamery. A few miles from the creamery and also on Bear Creek is an old-time custom woolen mill still run by waterpower. Leaving Quandahl, the journey follows through Highlandville and Locust to Decorah, situated on the Upper Iowa River, in the heart of its picturesque scenery.

The star attraction ad Decorah is, of course, the Ice cave, which for years has intrigued geologists with its summer-winter seasonal mix-up. Dunning’s Spring, cascading for 100 feet down a rock incline, can be seen by turning off the Ice cave road. Other points of interest at Decorah are two old waterpower flour mills, the city park by the Upper Iowa (the pride and justly so of all Winneshiek county folks) and the power dams in the river.

A side trip from Decorah takes the motorist to Glenwood cave, a natural curiosity almost on a par with the Ice cave. Here a cleft in a perpendicular wall gives entrance to an underground lake 2,400 feet long. A boat and a boatman await visitors at the mouth of the cave, and for a small fee one may take a boat ride 1,200 feet into the depths of the rock cavern, the pitch blackness of the water and cave broken only by the yellow gleam of the boat lantern-truly a novel enough experience to have in Iowa, “the Prairie state.”

~Cedar Rapids Gazette, September 4, 1932
~transcribed by Aubrie Monroe for Allamakee co. IAGenWeb


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