Day 6: Urbandale, IA

Trip Start Jul 21, 2010
Trip End Jul 29, 2010

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Living History Farms

Flag of United States  , Iowa
Monday, July 26, 2010

We woke up this morning in Des Moines and quickly got moving to the Machine Shed Restaurant and Living History Farms, technically in Urbandale, but both included on the list of "100 Things to Do in Des Moines" that we'd received at our hotel. The Machine Shed made this list for its award-winning cinnamon buns, which were really good (see picture).  The Living History Farms made the list for its the recreation of four district time periods in Iowan history, including the 1700 Ioway Indians, the 1850 pioneers, the townspeople of 1875 and 1900 farmers.

Apparently, the Living History Farms also made the “1000 Things to See Before You Die in U.S. and Canada,” published recently in the New York Times.  This is a pretty big claim to live up to, but the Living History Farms certainly made every effort.  It was very well done, with incredibly friendly guides dressed in period clothing casually doing the daily work of the historical era.

We explored an original mansion belonging to a wealthy Iowa businessman, who began hauling water for the railroad and worked his way up to owning a good part of the local town.  His house got electric lights and running water early on and was beautifully decorated with painted floors, elaborate quilts, and Italian marble hearths around the coal furnaces. (Yes, they put hearths around the furnace purely as a show of wealth).  In the town's pharmacy we learned about how early 20th century pharmacists made pills and mixed up “Freckle Water,” an equivalent of modern day sunscreen (I could definitely have used this product.)  We also walked through a fascinating interacting exhibit on the evolution of corn farming in Iowa. After a few relaxing hours wandering around the Living History Farms, we got back on the road and headed to Iowa City to visit with our friends the Rethwisches. (See next entry)

More pictures of Days 5 & 6 at
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