RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride Day 6 – Sigourney to Iowa City
Well we’ll be back in Sigourney when pigs fly… no seriously we will be back in about a month for the Big Ride and we can’t wait!! Even though Sigourney was hog heaven we had to roll out this morning, passing through Harper, Keota, Wellman, Kalona (Meeting Town), Riverside, and Hills, on our way to Iowa City. Today’s ride was a comfortable 57.6 miles with 1,413 feet of climb. Click this text for a map of the sixth day of RAGBRAI XLVI.
Friday on RAGBRAI XLVI is College Jersey Day – show your college spirit! Let’s flood the streets of Iowa City with jerseys not just bearing a Tiger Hawk logo.
Today we enjoyed visiting:
When you first hit Harper as the first stop of the day, the town park will have some activities, and the bike repair shops will be located there on the corner. A little further into town at the turn left you will find the Knights of Columbus Hall. Breakfast, Bathrooms and Bloody Mary’s will be hosted by the Winthorst Club. They plan to serve pancakes, whole hog sausages, eggs, and other breakfast treats. They are raising funds for scholarships.
Historical / Interesting Facts: In 1872, The Rock Island was built from Washington, IA to Oskaloosa, IA. Levi Whistler named the town of Harper. Electors of the town voted in a special election to incorporate on the day of November 17, 1879.
Famous Citizens: Levi Whistler – Named the town.
Alfred (Fritz) Conrad – Long time mayor of Harper. Recently passed.
Justin Hammen – Oldest resident at the age of 93 years.
Infamous Events: Celebration of Harper’s 100 year
Interesting Buildings / Restaurants / Sites:
Knights of Columbus Hall
St. Elizabeth’s former church and cemetery
Landscapes / Lakes / Parks: Lake Belua Deere is within riding distances
Additional Info: This year the tractor ride will pass through Harper and we are very excited to have RAGBRAI ride through our town of Harper.
Keota was named the 2012 Most Extroverted City in America so RAGBRAI riders will have lots of fun visiting with the friendly people of Keota. Keota is the second town out of Sigourney, so those looking for a few miles before breakfast will find Keota an appealing stop.
Keota will have plenty of local and out of town vendors serving breakfast that morning including some of the fresh pork from local farmer John Klein and the Catholic Church’s biscuits and gravy. There are also several beer gardens in town that will act as fundraisers.
The entertainment will be live bands, DJ’s (including the local legend Spike on the mic) and live wrestling in the downtown ring! Lets get ready to rumble!
If you visit the memorials you will be treated with free water.
Perhaps one of the most famous residents of Keota was Lagos, a famous Percheron Horse that was owned by the Singmaster family. The Singmaster Family’s original home is now the Elmhurst Bed and Breakfast in town.
The Kewash Nature Trail winds for nearly 14 miles between the towns of Keota and Washington. These endpoints were creatively combined to form the trail’s name. The trail has a crushed limestone surface for most of its route, but the portion within Washington’s city limits is paved asphalt.
For more information on Keota’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:
Wellman is ready for you to roll into town hungry with a 25 different food vendors! These include:
- Wellman Fire Department – shirts, cups, koozies
- Prairie Power – rolls, pickles, PB&J, pies, pork burgers
- Cinnamon rolls, iced coffee
- Freeman Foods – rib on a stick, ribeye, pork burger, strawberry pie
- Stone Wall Brick Pizza
- Wellman Rotary – pies with the Mennonite Church
- Sunrise – whoopie pies, rice crispie treats
- Pretzels, mint tea
- Methodist Church – walking tacos, Gatorade, water
- MP Football/Basketball – water, Kalona Bars
- JDRF – pickle juice stuff, protein pops, fruit, water
- Cilino’s – breakfast calzone, pizza
- The Well – beer garden
- American Legion – cooling station in the old hardware store
- Tender Tom’s
- SIX HUNDRED PIES – yes you read that correctly
- Three Blind Pigs
- Smokin G BBQ
- Garden of Eden
- Say Cheese
- Live the Ride
- Iowa Sweet Corn
- Thelma’s Ice Cream
- McSqueezin’s Lemonade
- Climb for Hayti
- Los Primos
They will also have a large beer garden with a DJ, a sand green putting area, and over 50 Kybos. So prepare to relax well in Wellman!
Historical / Interesting Facts: Wellman was the “turkey capital of the world” through the 1950’s with the Maplecrest Turkey Production.
Wellman is the one of two cities in Iowa with a sand greens golf course.
Interesting Buildings / Restaurants / Sites:
- Wellman Municipal Building.
- Locally owned grocery store.
- Locally owned fuel station.
- Wellman Museum ( 236 8th Ave).
- Public library.
- AND A ROLLER SKATING RINK!
Landscapes / Lakes / Parks:
- North Park – rolling hills and shady trees. Features playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, sand volleyball, ball diamonds, horse shoe pit, and Frisbee golf course.
- Downtown building mural done by local artists / kids
- Wellman golf course – privately owned 9-hole sand greens course.
- Wellman Historical Park – featuring a flower & herb garden, carriage house, Smith Creek School (old school house), Mortuary building (served Wellman morticians in the early 1900’s), Coal office / Magistrate building.
For more information on the city of Wellman, visit:
KALONA (Meeting Town)
Kalona will be Friday’s meeting town nestled between Sigourney and Iowa City. Known as the “Quilt Capital of Iowa,” Kalona itself is like a quilt-one full of unique old and new patterns. The country town’s rich pioneer heritage is proudly displayed as you tour our community.
Back in the days when the railroad was the ultimate link to everywhere, there was a man named John G. Myers who raised shorthorn cattle and, who when the B.C.R. and N. line was laid through the low lands of the English River valley, suggested calling the station on his pasture Myersville. For reasons known only to them, the rail officials declined Mr. Myers naming offer. Being a resourceful man of some wit, Myers then offered the name Kalona which having something of an Indian sound suited the officials. What they did not know, and Myers did not explain was that Kalona was the name of his registered prize sire bull. All things considered, it really was not such a bad choice, for like its champion namesake, the town has proved to have strength and endurance, weathering the decline of the railroads, the dissolution of small rural communities.
Today Kalona is the second largest town in Washington County with unique identity due, in part, to a predominant Mennonite and Amish influence as well as being the largest Amish settlement West of the Mississipp
Kalona will host its RAGBRAI guest in its historic downtown community. Local and regional entertainment will be heard on the main stage and also with street entertainers playing on the sidewalks throughout the afternoon. With Friday being College Day, Kalona plans on having College boards so that you and your group can represent your loyalty to your favorite College. Plans are in the works to have RAGBRAI riders help create a large latch hook quilt pattern. Keep an eye out for more information.
Kalona is proud of their downtown district and feel it will provide an inviting atmosphere for your trip to Kalona. We host numerous shops that include fine dining, brewery, general store, antiques, chocolate shop, Ice Cream shop and numerous antique shops to explore.
As you head out of town we encourage you to stop by the Kalona Historical Village which allows you to stroll through our scenic 1800’s village and explore pioneer live in 13 authentic buildings and museums. http://www.kalonaiowa.org/KHV.htm
Just a short walk north from the downtown Kalona has a wonderful public library that was built in 2004. Across the street from the library is our 1936 Kalona High School that is undergoing a full renovation that will include a new 22,000 sf addition of a community center which will open in early August. Our city park hosts an outdoor pool, 5 baseball fields, two tennis courts and camping facilities for up to 38 campers.
Kalona main street will be packed with local vendors with plenty of great local Kalona foods and goodies. There will also be an assortment of outside vendors.
There will also be some great Iowa entertainment including Kevin Burt and Dave Zolla appearing throughout the day.
Some interesting buildings, restaurants and sites include:
- Kalona Historical Village (scenic 1800’s village with 13 authentic buildings)
- Kalona Brewing Company
- Kalona Antique Company
- The Kalona Cheese House
- Kalona chocolates
- Wooden Wheel Antiques
- Vintage Chic
If you are looking for the tastiest location in Kalona, visit Kalona Chocolates. Some of their most popular chocolate confections include: English toffee, sea salt caramels, tadpoles (caramel, pecans, & chocolate), peanut clusters, and a variety of our chocolate truffles. They make all of their chocolates in the kitchen next to the store. You can even watch the chocolates being made through the kitchen viewing windows. RAGBRAIers might enjoy a frozen hot chocolate if the temps are hot! They blend their specialty hot chocolate mix with ice to create something like a chocolate smoothie. It’s a perfect rich and refreshing drink! Visit their website at www.kalonachocolates.com
If you are looking for a local craft beer, the Kalona Brewery is on the town’s Main Street. Home to a fifteen barrel brewing system from Newlands Systems, which includes a three vessel brew house, four 15bbl fermenters, two 30bbl fermenters, two 15bbl bright tanks and a Wild Goose Engineering canning line.
The Kalona Brewing Company Restaurant grew out of the owner’s love for wood-fired, thin crust pizza – alla Napolitana. They use local cherry wood to infuse the pizza with a delicious sweet smokeyness. Mozzarella is made in-house and they use imported San Marzano tomatoes, the classic pizza tomato.
For more information on Kalona’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:
For more info on the City of Kalona, visit: https://www.cityofkalona.org
Riverside has one of the best logos we’ve seen in a while. Keep an eye on their Facebook page so you can snag a t-shirt with their logo while they have them available! The folks in Riverside will be ready for you. Entertainment on the stage in Hall Park will start early, and go through the afternoon. The Nadas will go on a little after 1:00 pm. Abbie Callahan, a contestant on The Voice and student at Iowa City West school will also be on stage. The park is a great setting for RAGBRAI with lots of shade and everything you’ll need to rest.
Some groups in town raising money include the Post Prom committee, the Elementary Support Organization for a new playground, the Fire Department for a new brass truck and swamp buggy, and St Mary’s Church needs some new windows. The Riverside Area Community Club is organizing the event and fund raising in Riverside.
Historical / Interesting Facts: Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry’s book, “The Making of Star Trek,” stated that Captain James T. Kirk “was born in a small town in the state of Iowa.”
In 1984, Riverside City Councilperson, Steve Miller, wrote to Gene Roddenberry requesting that the ‘small town in Iowa’ be Riverside.
Through city proclamation, TV, radio, magazine and newspaper interviews (including the Wall Street Journal) and with a certificate of commendation from Gene Roddenberry himself, Riverside has become known for the historical event.
On March 25, 1985, the Riverside City Council voted unanimously to declare a spot behind what used to be the town’s barber shop as the “future birthplace” of Star Trek’s Captain – James T. Kirk Commander of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC – 1701.
Famous Citizens: Captain James T. Kirk – Born March 22, 2228
Infamous Events: Trek Fest – Always held the last Saturday in June.
Interesting Buildings / Restaurants / Sites: Voyage Home Museum – 361 E 1st Street
Kirk’s Birthplace – 51 W 1st Street, Star Trek Museum, St. Mary’s Church.
Murphy’s Bar and Grill
Riverside Casino and Resort
Landscapes / Lakes / Parks: Veteran Memorial Park
Description: We plan on having live music all day, with other games and festivities in and around Hall Park. We will also have a large beer garden with many craft beers.
Food / Vendors: We plan to serve pies and pastries, watermelon, corn on the cob, sandwiches, walking tacos and much more. We will also have other food vendors. The Iowa Pork and Beef Producers will be serving their specialties. The Fire Department will be serving pork burgers
Entertainment / Activities: Bands, volleyball, giant tailgating games, water fight at the fire station.
Town Theme: Ride Long And Prosper
Additional Info: Trek Mural at Hall Park Stage
Mural at Kirk Birthplace
Space Ship at Museum
St. Mary’s is in the process of raising money to restore their stain glass windows.
The Highland Elementary School is updating their playground to be ADA compliant.
For more information on Riverside’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:
Hills will be alive with the sound of music when we roll through town! There will be music all day, including the Limestoners from 1-5pm (Bob Dorr and Joe Peters’ band), the Old Cap String Band featuring Mike Haverkamp, a bagpipe player wandering around town, a banjo player, and more!
- Bob Dorr’s Limestoners (so named because they are the host band for the weekly Thursday night blues jam in The Limestone Lounge at Bryan’s On 4th in Waterloo) with Jeff Petersen-guitar/vocals, (both Bob and Jeff are Iowa Rock and Roll and Iowa Blues Ham of Fame inductees), add Blue Band bass player Doug Norton rockabilly, Americana, soul, and country music. All three members sing. Many times The Limestoners add a fourth person to the group. Blue Band sax players Nolan Schroeder and Eddie McKinley are frequent fourth player additions. In the Community Center on Main Street from 1 – 5
- The Blue Stem Players
- Old Cap String Band
Street Performers include:
- Mike Haverkamp on Banjo
- Glen Hatfield
- Perhaps even a few barbershop quartets.
A few Herky Statues will be around for some photo ops and other surprises yet to be announced.
Food and beverage will be provided at the Hills City Park by a variety of vendors, Old 218 Tap, The Hills Community Center and Rustic Revival.
Also be sure to stop and take a dip in their newly built splash pad near where we come into town! Other attractions include an outdoor movie, pie at the Community Center, and sandwiches and ice cream at the school.
While you’re there, be sure to check out the booth selling prints of a 1979 painting of RAGBRAI done by mayor Tim Kemp’s mother Holly Kemp. The painting was featured in Smithsonian Magazine and features a classic RAGBRAI scene. Proceeds from sales will go to a scholarship fund at Tipton High School.
Historical / Interesting Facts: Thomas hill was one of the earliest settlers on the land that was to become Hills, purchasing much of the land from the government in the mid-1800s. In its early days, Hills was known as “Hillssiding” as the land bordered the railroad and depot. In 1906 a local government was formed and the town incorporated to become Hills. But it was not until 1979 that this incorporation was officially recognized by the state of Iowa when it was discovered that none of the official documents for incorporation were ever filed with the state. At that time the council took action to recognize May 28, 1906 as the official date of incorporation.
Famous Citizens: Although only famous to residents of Hills, we have to thank Thomas Hill for our name.
- Louis Jenn, founder of Jenn-Air Appliances. Lou provided 2.5 million to build a care center in Hills, known as Atrium Village, when his aging mother had to leave hills for a distant care center. He was also distressed by his mother’s loneliness at leaving her friends that he wanted to make sure others would be able to remain in Hills.
- Marold “Timer” Glaspey, one of our most colorful and famous residents. His sense of adventure led him to California twice, ending up in Hollywood. Using the stage name Richard Warren Timer, he appeared on a wide variety of television, movie and stage productions including Bonanza, Gunsmoke and the Barbara Stanwyck Theater. While living in Hills he spent time as a Johnson County Sheriff’s deputy and also was a radio personality for WOC out of Davenport.
Infamous Events: After WW11 there were always 3-4 taverns operating in Hills, each having 3-4 slot machines that were illegal. The “Feds” would raid taverns on a regular basis. When the local law enforcement (including Timer) got word of the raids they would warn local taverns who were then able to get the machines out prior to the raid. Sometimes tavern owners would allow themselves to be “raided” and pay the fine to avoid any suspicions.
Beginning in the 1930s the Hills Wildcats baseball team was the best entertainment in town, sometimes gathering up to 1,200 fans to watch. To support the team at tournaments they would hold many fund raisers including the infamous “mock weddings” staged by the team. They cast was entirely male, even down the the little baby girl in the carriage.
Interesting Buildings / Restaurants / Sites: Hills has many historical buildings including the Old 218 Tap, Hills Gain and Feed and other buildings along Main Street.
Of note is Bush’s Barber shop. Denny Bush has operated his shop since 1970 when he purchased the business from long time Hills Barber Claire Rummelhart. Denny hopes to get 50 years in before he retires.
Landscapes / Lakes / Parks: Hills City Park provides a gathering place for many local events including kids ball leagues, adult ball leagues, Music in the Park and Hills Annual 4th celebration which offers some of the best fireworks around.
The City is also in the process of constructing a splash pad at its new park located in our new housing addition. This should be completed prior to July 4th.
Additional Info: In 1988 Hills began taking steps to institute a recycling program for its residents. In 1990 Hills became the first town in Johnson County to offer curbside recycling to its residents.
For more information on Hills’ RAGBRAI plans, visit:
Though Coralville, University Heights and Iowa City may appear to blend together on the map, each has its own unique culture and identity. Iowa City is unique in the fact that it has the college-town vibe, but also a rich history as it was the state of Iowa’s first capital. In 2008 Iowa City was designated a UNESCO City of Literature, at the time it was the third city in the world to receive the designation, and it remains the only city in the U.S. to do so. This, along with The University of Iowa’s famous Writer’s Workshop, have inspired their theme for RAGBRAI 2018 – Book it to Iowa City.
As much of Iowa, Iowa City has long been involved in politics. With the election of Moses Bloom in 1873 they had the first Jewish mayor of any American city, and with the election of Emma J. Harvat as mayor in 1923, they also had the first woman elected mayor in a city with more than 10,00o inhabitants. And of course we would be remiss if we did not mention the Hamburg Inn #2, a famous stopping point for touring politicians including Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton (and they have a darn good pie shake too).
Other notable sights along the route include Kinnick Stadium (University of Iowa’s football field), Carver-Hawkeye Arena (used for the University’s basketball, wrestling, gymnastic and volleyball teams), and the Old Capitol Museum (it is a U.S. National Historic Landmark). We will also ride near Prairie Lights Bookstore, a long lived and long loved local book store, often recognized as one of the nation’s best book stores.
There are many other interesting locations off the route, if you come back to Iowa City we recommend checking out the Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery (legend has it if you touch her at midnight on Halloween you’ll die within seven years) and Plum Grove (home of Iowa’s first governor of the Territory of Iowa, Robert Lucas, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places).
Famous people from Iowa City include: Grant Wood, Dan Gable, James Van Allen, Mauricio Lasansky, Nile Kinnick, Simon Estes, Ignacio Ponseti and numerous Writer’s Workshop professors and students (Paul Engle, John Irving, W.P Kinsella, Flannery O’Connor, Donald Justice, Jane Smiley, Tennessee Williams, Kurt Vonnegut and more).
In addition to the musical entertainment on the main stage, RAGBRAI riders, their support crews, and visitors to Iowa City can expect a block-party style event throughout a designated footprint within the Downtown business district. Guests will be allowed to visit local bars and restaurants and openly enjoy food and beverages within the event’s designated area.
Food / Vendors: A beverage tent will operate from 6 PM – 10 PM, serving domestic and craft beer, soda, and water. The Downtwon entertainment area will be serviced by local restaurants and bars, with no outside food or drink vendors permitted.
- The Jayhawks, an American alternative country and country rock band, from the Twin Cities.
- Blitzen Trapper, an experimental country/folk/rock band, from Portland, Oregon.
- Elizabeth Moen, Iowa City singer-songwriter, and Kevin “B.F.” Burt, internationally-renowned blues musician, will join the bands on stage.
Main Stage will be located at Clinton Street and Iowa Avenue. The Main Stage will be open from 4 PM – 10 PM. All entertainment is free and open to the public.
Don’t forget to check back for updates on the last day of the route inspection ride and what to expect on RAGBRAI XLV here on the RAGBRAI web site www.ragbrai.com on Saturday, June 10. You can also follow the pre-ride adventure and learn interesting tidbits about the route by following on Facebook Facebook.com/RAGBRAI or on TWITTER by following @RAGBRAI_IOWA, @TJRAGBRAI, or @RAGBRAI_Andrea