The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

2019 RAGBRAI

RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride Day 6 – Fairfield to Burlington

We got pretty weird yesterday in Fairfield. We learned our steampunk names and we can’t wait to introduce you to yours in July. Now it’s time to Rally on to the Alley in Burlington!

It’s another solid day today with 65.6 miles and 1,521 feet of climb. Our town lineup for the day includes Stockport, Salem (Meeting Town), Houghton, Geode State Park, Middletown, and Burlington. Click this text for a map of the sixth day of RAGBRAI XLVII.

Friday is College Jersey Day on RAGBRAI XLVII! Let’s see those team colors today! If you don’t have a college jersey, never fear! We have a few left on the RAGBRAI web store and most of the Iowa-based Scheels also have them in stock (Des Moines, Cedar Falls, Iowa City, and Sioux City). Go Team!

Click here for photos of Day 6 of the RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre Ride by Zach Boyden-Holmes from The Des Moines Register!

Here are the towns that we visited today:

STOCKPORT

After 13.7 miles of riding Stockport will be the perfect breakfast stop. They have worked hard to put together a wide variety of vendors for you to choose from and it’s a can’t-miss! All proceeds will be split between the Stockport Lion’s Club, American Legion, and Fire Department. There will be plenty of Kybos, cables for bikes, a big water station, and a huge line of flags as you enter town. Be sure to check out the beer garden which will surround the Freedom Rock and a tank.

Food Options:

HOQ Restaurant with Breakfast Wraps

Iowa Coffee Company

Flippin’ Flapjacks

Farm Boys

Chris Cakes

Breakfast Delights

Los Primos Grill

Huey’s Mini Donuts

Smoothie Revolution

Beer and Bloody Mary Garden

Wine on Wheels – with DJ

And more!

Stockport is the youngest town in Van Buren County with a population of around 250. J. Ferg Teal credits the founding of the town to Dick and George Johnston, Len Harness, Leroy Fickel, Sam Whitaker and himself.  It was platted in 1888 and incorporated as a town in 1902 with the first mayor being H.C. Skinner.

The railroad was really the start of the town. This narrow gauge railroad reached Stockport on December 31, 1881.    It was known as the Ft. Madison & Northwestern and later was changed to standard gauge and was the Chicago, Ft. Madison and Des Moines.   They agreed to place a depot there if the people of the area would buy a five-acre tract of land, dividing it in to lots and giving the railroad each alternate lot.

A box car was used as a depot until December 28th, 1890 when the depot from Longview was moved into Stockport on two flat cars.  This is the same depot that the Stockport Heritage Society is continuing to restore and houses the Peavine Line Museum and was built in 1882.

The first building in town was built by Brown Fox for Francis M. Harlan on the Northwest corner of the crossroads in the fall of 1887.  Mr. Harlan conducted a general store and was Postmaster at Wilsonville, but was persuaded to move his store to this new site.  Many of the local men donated work, hauling native lumber from a nearby saw mill and assisted in erecting this building.  The front part of the building served as a store and family occupied the rooms in the rear.   Mr. Harlan became the first Postmaster.  In order to have a Post Office of course a name was required.  James Beswick is credited with calling it Stockport after his birth place of Stockport, England.

We have lost a lot of businesses over the years like many small towns but we still have the following: bank, grain elevator (outside of town), CPA office,  body shop, Post Office, library, Christian Church and Methodist Church.

Morris Park is a picturesque, 60 acre park located 4 miles northeast of Stockport off the gravel road.  It is owned and operated by the Van Buren County Conservation Commission with a resident park attendant.  There are historic artifacts, old machinery and log cabins to tour as well as a stocked pond, nature trails, picnic areas and camping hookups.  The log cabin is furnished as it would have been in 1838, the 1868 schoolhouse has era-correct furnishings.  The big red barn is the highlight, with several pieces of antique farming equipment including a horse-drawn hearse, complete with a coffin. There is also a climate controlled museum for historic textiles and other sensitive artifacts.

Our Avenue of Flags was started as a part of the bicentennial celebration and has grown to 258 flags, these flags are put up by volunteers on 4 holidays throughout the year.   Stockport salutes you today with a portion of our flags flying to greet you.

We are also home to Van Buren County’s Freedom Rock, the park area is just getting started with future plans being worked on by the legion members of our community.   Thus the inspiration for our theme:

Let Freedom Rock ‘n’ Roll

Interesting Buildings/Restaurants/Sites:

Freedom Rock Legion Hall—100th year for legion

PeaVine Line Museum Train Depot

Interesting Landscapes/Lakes/Parks, etc.

Morris Park

Pioneer Historical Park—2 Miles from town (Gravel)

Anything else you would like the participants of RAGBRAI to know about your town?

Stockport is the youngest town in Van Buren County with a population of around 250. J. Ferg Teal credits the founding of the town to Dick and George Johnston, Len Harness, Leroy Fickel, Sam Whitaker and himself. It was platted in 1888 and incorporated as a town in 1902 with the first mayor being H.C. Skinner.

The railroad was really the start of the town. This narrow-gauge railroad reached Stockport on December 31, 1881. It was known as the Ft. Madison & Northwestern and later was changed to standard gauge and was the Chicago, Ft. Madison and Des Moines. They agreed to place a depot there if the people of the area would buy a five-acre tract of land, dividing it in to lots and giving the railroad each alternate lot.

A box car was used as a depot until December 28th, 1890 when the depot from Longview was moved into Stockport on two flat cars. This is the same depot that the Stockport Heritage Society is continuing to restore and houses the Peavine Line Museum. It was built in 1882.

The first building in town was built by Brown Fox for Francis M. Harlan on the Northwest corner of the crossroads in the fall of 1887. Mr. Harlan conducted a general store and was Postmaster at Wilsonville but was persuaded to move his store to this new site. Many of the local men donated work, hauling native lumber from a nearby saw mill and assisted in erecting this building.  The front part of the building served as a store and family occupied the rooms in the rear. Mr. Harlan became the first Postmaster.  In order to have a Post Office of course a name was required. James Beswick is credited with calling it Stockport after his birth place of Stockport, England.

They have lost a lot of businesses over the years like many small towns, but they still have the following: bank, grain elevator (outside of town), CPA office, body shop, Post Office, library, Christian Church and Methodist Church.

Morris Park is a picturesque, 60-acre park located 4 miles northeast of Stockport off the gravel road. It is owned and operated by the Van Buren County Conservation Commission with a resident park attendant.  There are historic artifacts, old machinery and log cabins to tour as well as a stocked pond, nature trails, picnic areas and camping hookups.  The log cabin is furnished as it would have been in 1838, the 1868 schoolhouse has era-correct furnishings.  The big red barn is the highlight, with several pieces of antique farming equipment including a horse-drawn hearse, complete with a coffin. There is also a climate-controlled museum for historic textiles and other sensitive artifacts.

Their Avenue of Flags was started as a part of the bicentennial celebration and has grown to 258 flags, these flags are put up by volunteers on 4 holidays throughout the year. Stockport salutes riders today with a portion of their flags flying to greet the riders.

They are also home to Van Buren County’s Freedom Rock; the park area is just getting started with future plans being worked on by the legion members of their community. Thus, the inspiration for their theme:

Let Freedom Rock ‘n’ Roll.

For more information on Stockport’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:
https://villagesofvanburen.com/ragbraiStockport.html

SALEM (Meeting Town)

Salem is a small but thriving town in Henry County, population about 400.  It is halfway between two overnight stops on RAGBRAI, about 40 miles on back-roads from both Fairfield and Burlington.

It has a central town park that serves as a core for the town, surrounded by the Salem Crew Public Library; the Underground, a full-service family restaurant and bar; and by a convenience store and gas station.  It is often a stop for Tractor Rides and the Red Flag cars, who appreciate both the shade and the ice cream at Kramer’s across the street.

Salem will have quite the variety of vendors in their shady park and lots of live music to entertain!

Special History:  In 1835 Aaron Street moving westward came to the site and determined it to be a new home for a community of Friends.  By 1837 Friends meetings were held in private homes; the town was laid out and incorporated in 1839 by Mr. Street, making it one of the oldest towns in the State of Iowa.

Close to the Missouri border, Salem became an important depot on the Underground Railroad.  The Henderson Lewelling House, one block south of the Town Square, is one of only five existing sites on the Iowa Underground Railroad.  The Lewelling House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and is a National Park Service site.  Open for tours, school children and adults from Henry County and beyond are regular visitors to this part of Iowa’s history.  Henderson Lewelling, who took apple and other fruit trees when he moved on to Washington/Oregon; those trees became the parent stock of most early orchards in the Northwest.

Interesting Buildings/Restaurants/Sites:

  • The Lewelling House Museum
  • The new (2010) Salem Crew Public Library with many historical photos and books;
  • The Underground Restaurant and Century Bar, a full-service family restaurant with good food and a full bar;
  • The new (2018) Veterans Memorial (2018);
  • The South Cemetery just outside of town, with graves going back to earliest days of the town, possibly including Civil War veterans.
  • The town also has, one block off the square, a new net-zero home which could be open for tours.

The town square has many beautiful tall trees and had had a three-year project to remove and replace old dead and dying trees.  It also has a shelter house with picnic tables.

Rural Salem is the home of East Grove Farms (http://eastgrovefarms.com/), a “meadery” and the oldest continuously working farm in Iowa.  It is also the home-base of Whiskey and Friends, an American blues band who play at local festivals and other venues.  Whiskey and Friends (and possibly associated musicians) will be recruited to provide entertainment over the lunch break.

 

For more information on Salem’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:
https://www.facebook.com/SalemRagbrai2019/

 

HOUGHTON

With Houghton, population 146, being one of the last pass-through towns Friday for RAGBRAI, they are planning a celebration with a little of everything.  Their theme is “Bin There Done That.”  Join them at one of their three Grain Bin Beer Gardens for some adult beverages.  Enjoy sandwiches, brats, smoothies, homemade pie and ice cream along with other foods and non-alcohol beverages.  There will be local and outside food vendors set up. All the action will be near the ball diamond in Houghton.  Pick up games of kick-ball will be going on all day.

For those that are not able to cool off in their Knights of Columbus air-conditioned building or under one of the many shade trees, they are building a “Redneck Hay Pool”.  Riders won’t want to miss it!!!

They will also be hosting a live band or DJ in their beer garden to give riders a reason to stay longer before their final leg of their trip.

With the agriculture industry so prominent in their community, it is only fitting that the grain bin is part of their theme.  They will be raffling off one of their “Grain Bin Bars” to a lucky rider, thanks to their very own Houghton made product, Conrad American.  Buy your raffle tickets for a chance to win the RAGBRAI Grain Bin Bar.  You do not need to be present to win.  The winner will need to have the bar shipped to wherever it’s final resting place will be.

But wait, there’s more! For those that fall in love with Houghton and want to extend their stay even longer, the “Houghton Hootin’ Days” celebration is on Saturday, July 27th.  The festivities start that weekend with a kickball tournament; followed by a car show, BBQ competition, pedal pull and spectacular fireworks show.  To carry on the tradition set in 1967, they will also crown a prince and princess!

Proceeds during the RAGBRAI event will go towards baseball field improvements and the Houghton Hootin Days fireworks.

They are looking forward to RAGBRAI 2019 to be able to say that they have BIN to HOUGHTON!  Don’t forget to check out their Facebook page of Houghton RAGBRAI.   https://www.facebook.com/houghtonragbrai/

 

 

GEODE STATE PARK

Geode State Park is a true gem of Iowa and you really need to take your time riding through the park. We watched some 350 million year old geodes be cracked open and it was so fun! They will have a 300 lb geode on display when you roll through the park. They will also have a calendar, cook book, and t-shirts on sale.

Historical or interesting things about your town:
Geode State Park became part of the park system in 1937.

Interesting Landscapes/Lakes/Parks, etc.

Lake Geode is known for its excellent largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, bullhead, and red-eared sunfish fishing.

Hiking trails-There are multiple hiking trails to challenge visitors. The main path goes from the north end of Lake Geode to the dam. It is possible to completely go around the 1,640-acre lake following trails.

Southeast Iowa Bike Route—This 46-mile bike route goes from Lacey-Keosauqua State Park to Geode State Park. The route shows off southern Iowa woodlands, pastures and lush cornfields. It journeys through rolling hills as well as flat terrain.

Boating—Lake Geode has two boat ramps. It is a “no-wake” lake.

Camping—The park has both electric and non-electric campsites. It is equipped with modern showing buildings and a sewage dump.

Picnicking—Geode State Park is known for having some of the best picnicking spots in southeast Iowa. There are also several shelters in the park.

Plans for RAGBRAI:

Friends of Geode State Park will have a stand just north of intersection of County road J-20 and Lake Road as RAGBRAI enters Geode State Park. This area has been designated as a water stop. Activities will be Geode Cracking and park information; some entertainment is being arranged (unsure of what this will be this at this time) as well as refreshments and food. All profits will go toward the renovation of the Park’s beach concession stand by the Friends of Geode.

Type of food you plan to serve or vendors that will be in town: Grilled items

Entertainment Plans: possibly music and other, but unknown at this time. Demonstrations and interpretation about geodes, a rock that is valued by collectors and common in the area.

Neat places that riders should be sure to visit (museums, attractions, etc.): The entire route through the park is scenic. Shady, undulating route though woodlands.

Any interesting stories riders should know about that is happening in town: The lake is drained for renovation. 200,000 cubic yards of silt are being removed to improve water quality. The campground is also being renovated at this time. It could be possibly open by RAGBRAI but that is dependent on weather.

For more information on Geode State Park, visit:
https://www.facebook.com/geodestatepark/
https://www.iowadnr.gov/Places-to-Go/State-Parks/Iowa-State-Parks/ParkDetails/ParkID/610124

 

MIDDLETOWN

Middletown gets a double dip as a passthrough town on Friday and again on Saturday as we leave Burlington.  All the festivities will be held in a grassy area just off the main road. There will be plenty of food vendors set up on Friday to keep you going the last few miles into Burlington, and again the following morning to serve breakfast on your way back out.

Follow the route signs, don’t miss the turn, to the park to enjoy the great hospitality from the folks in Middletown.

For more information on Middletown, visit:
https://www.facebook.com/Middletown.Iowa/

 

BURLINGTON

Are you ready to “Rally to the Alley”?!

Burlington will be full of pep, spirit and community on July 26. Get ready to shout and cheer as Greater Burlington goes into full pep rally mode for RAGBRAI.  Riders will be greeted by cheerleaders and spirit bands cheering them on throughout the community.  “Rally to the Alley” combines the fun atmosphere of a pep rally with Burlington’s famous landmark – Snake Alley.

Snake Alley Challenge

Riders, do you have what it takes to “Conquer Snake Alley”?!  Bike over to downtown Burlington and take on the Ripley’s Believe It or Not #1 Odd Spot in America.  Rise to the occasion and if you can overcome Snake Alley’s 275 ft. of steep climb and turns, you’ll be awarded for the effort.

Campgrounds

The main campground will be located at the Burlington High School Campus with additional campgrounds in close proximity at Notre Dame School Campus & Edward Stone Middle School Campus. Being centrally located, this gives riders the perfect landing spot to begin exploring Greater Burlington.  Every amenity is just a few minutes’ drive from the main campground. Additional campgrounds will be at Crapo and Dankwardt parks, the YMCA and more. Shuttle services will be continuously running throughout the day to all the action in Greater Burlington.  Riders will be able to hop on a bus and head down to the party, check out the Des Moines County Fair, try their luck at the casino, catch a Bees Baseball game, and more.  Full route stops will be listed on BurlingtonRAGBRAI.com as they become finalized.

The Party

After a long day’s trek, riders can relax and party the day and night away in downtown Burlington.  The first band is scheduled to start at 2 PM with bands rocking all the way through midnight along the beautiful backdrop of the Burlington Mississippi riverfront.  The Spazmatics will headline the night and roll back the clock with some of your favorite 80’s hits.  Stay tuned for the complete band lineup.

While downtown, be sure to explore the amazing shops and restaurants.  No matter if riders are looking for a quick pick-me-up or looking for a souvenir of their stay, they’ll find something they love in downtown Burlington.

Things to do

Friday in Greater Burlington will be hopping with activity.  Along with The Party on the riverfront, riders will have an abundance of activities to choose from during their stay.  From historic Snake Alley, to the Des Moines County Fair, to Major League Baseball with the Burlington Bees, to trying their luck at Catfish Bend Casino and more, there are almost endless options of entertainment in Greater Burlington.

Whatever you like, a great time is just a shuttle stop away.

Explore Greater Burlington

Burlington RAGBRAI is going to be an amazing day. Stay tuned for more updates on what will be going on in Greater Burlington on July 26.  Their entire community is beyond excited for RAGBRAI and they can’t wait to see everyone.

Interesting Places

Snake Alley—designated by Ripley’s Believe It or Not as “unbelievably Crooked” and the #1 Odd Spot in Ripley’s Guide to the Curious Corners of America. The alley, located on North 6th Street between Columbia and Washington Streets, consists of five half-curves and two quarter curves.

Cobblestone Ally—located a quarter-block east of Snake Alley, this alley is included in the National Register of Historic Places and is composed of large blocks of native limestone.

https://www.facebook.com/BurlingtonRagbrai/

https://www.greaterburlington.com/ragbra

 

For more information about Burlington’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:
https://www.greaterburlington.com/ragbrai
https://www.facebook.com/BurlingtonRagbrai/

https://www.chicagospazmatics.com/

PODCAST:
We recorded a preview of our journey from Fairfield to Burlington on the JustGoBike Podcast! Listen here: INSERT LINK HERE

Don’t forget to check back for daily updates and photos from the route inspection ride here on the RAGBRAI  site www.ragbrai.com. 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

1 Comment

LawnchairMan, Jun 8, 2019 at 7:26 pm

“take your time riding through the park.” This was in reference to Geode State Park. Does it mean that we turn left when we get to Agency road and then enter the park from the South? Or do we turn left on J-20 to go into the park from the East?

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