I didn’t know anything about this community before venturing out on this leg of my trip. This community was formed in 1855 as a religious commune from Germany called the Community of True Inspiration. It operated this way until 1932.
In reality there are seven towns here that make up the Amana Colonies. They are Amana, West Amana, South Amana, East Amana, Middle Amana, High Amana, and Homestead. All the towns are now registered as National Historic Landmarks.
I parked out at RV Park. In reality just a huge field but flat parking spaces which is all you need. I ventured to Millstream Brewery for dinner. Which the brewery was the first Micro Brewery in Iowa but the Brau House had just recently opened. Had a pleasant meal with a Jalapeno Cheese brat and macaroni and cheese.
The next morning I woke up and had breakfast at the Ox Yoke Inn. It was delicious.
I then stopped at the Woolen Mill, Furniture and Meat shop. The Woolen Mill is apparently the last woolen mill in Iowa. Interesting to see the machines in operation.
The Furniture shop I saw some amazing furniture. It was made from Spalted Maple. This is a partially deteriorated Maple that was light colored with this dark streaks running through it. Loved the bedroom suite they had there. Two problems, I have no place to put it right now and second it cost $20,000.
Just like the Mill you can go back to the workshop area and see the local artisans creating the furniture. The company stores and museums are the remnants of the Amana Colonies. When the Colonies voted to disband in 1932 the land and buildings were formed into a corporation. Many of the buildings which had as many as 3 families living in them were sold to one of the families. I can’t image the chaos that ensued from going where everything was provided for you since you worked the fields to where you didn’t have a job. All this during the middle of the great depression.
The other corporation that was formed shortly after the break up of the colonies was the Amana Corporation which started building iceboxes in 1935. There is still a refrigerator production facility in Amana but it is run by Whirlpool since they bought the Amana corporation. (I still used my Amana Radarange until the early 90’s. It finally became just too heavy to move again)
One of the things I noticed while here was the Iowa Interstate railroad.
I had never seen these engines before. Found out that this railroad only runs between Council Bluffs, Iowa and Chicago, Illinois. This has to be a huge boost to manufacturing in this area that they have this railroad to haul freight to major distribution ports.
Anyway after stopping by company stores I stopped at the local visitors center.
Got there just 5 minutes before a tour was leaving for a 3 hour tour of the colonies. As usual my timing was perfect. Got to see a video on the colonies as well as visit one of the community kitchens and a local church. They also took us into one of the houses where a community member is still operating a tin shop.
The benches in the church came with them from New York where they had originally settled after leaving Germany. They apparently didn’t want you getting too comfortable and falling asleep in church.
We also stopped at one of the three general stores that are still open in the colonies. The stores helped support the colonies throughout their history and have a nice variety of items to buy.
My last stop for the day was at Ackerman winery.
All of their wines are fruit wines. I liked the blackberry but wasn’t into the rhubarb wine so much.
Before I left I had to take one last drive around the Colonies and make sure I hadn’t missed anything as there is a lot to see and trying to fit all in during one day wasn’t really practical. I got to see the largest Walnut rocking chair, a barn museum of miniatures, and some pictures of Iowa’s only Smithsonian archive of American Gardens.
At a local shop the first time I’d seen pumpkins grown on a Trellis. These trellises, like the one at my old house, were selling for $280 each.
This marshland near the factory is overgrown with lily pads. Apparently, they were put there by Native Americans who ate their roots as food.
The last thing I notice was that there was a sign for historic US 6.
I didn’t realize there was a US 6 highway. Which is odd since that it is the same highway as 6th Avenue in Denver. I always thought it was called 6 because of the road not that it was a highway.
Anyway, that concludes my trip to the Amana colonies. What a fun step back in history and if I ever need to buy furniture this is where I want to go.