Getting out the Vote—Suffrage, Soapboxes and Statistics
Central and Eastern Iowa –2 Days
Jefferson, Boone, Ames, Des Moines, West Branch, Quad Cities
Travel along the historic Lincoln Highway to explore how Iowans were influential leaders in politics and elections long before the Iowa caucuses began in 1968 or presidential hopefuls began grilling pork chops at the Iowa State Fair.
In Jefferson, tour the home of an inquisitive Iowan who pioneered in the techniques of public opinion polling and did much to make it a key tool of politics, government, business and education. Greene County Chamber of Commerce will introduce you to other historical points of interest along the scenic Lincoln Highway.
First Lady Mamie Doud Eisenhower was born in Boone. Her birthplace has been carefully restored to its Victorian elegance, and contains furniture from Mamie’s family, photos of Mamie and Ike, unique memorabilia and even two of her cars. The 1952 presidential campaign was the first in which the spouses of a presidential ticket were consciously marketed to women voters as part of a larger effort. Mamie Eisenhower was an energetic and enthusiastic figure on her husband’s 77-stop train tour of the nation. Visit the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad and Museum as well as take a picturesque train ride along the route they traveled.
Iowa State University alumna, Carrie Lane Chapman Catt, devoted most of her life to the expansion of women’s rights around the world as well as international peace. Recognized as one of the key leaders of the American women’s suffrage movement, her efforts led to passage of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote and also founded the League of Women Voters. The Ames CVB will assist you with a tour of the campus and other sites of interest in the area.
(As a possible side trip, consider traveling to north central Iowa to visit the childhood home of Carrie Chapman Catt. Tour this National Historic Register home, built in 1866, that tells the story of one of America’s most influential women. Exhibit panels detail how the young Floyd County girl grew into a woman who fought for equal voting rights around the world. For more information contact Charles City Area Chamber of Commerce or Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area.)
Henry A. Wallace was elected Vice President of the US, yet his place in “America’s first family of agriculture” was by virtue of his birth. Early in his career, he founded a world-renowned seed corn company and was an editor at Wallaces’ Farmer magazine (a publication started by his grandfather). He served as Vice President from 1941-1945 in addition to holding cabinet positions. Learn more about the family’s legacy as you tour the historic Victorian home and gardens and enjoy a locally sourced meal at the Wallace House. While in Des Moines be sure to visit the state Capitol Building, state historical museum and other points of interest coordinated by the Greater Des Moines CVB.
The Pietists came from Germany and formed the Amana Colonies, one of America’s longest-lived communal societies. We’ll tour the seven villages visiting historical sites and meeting artists and artisans of handcrafted products. Enjoy lunch at the Ox Yoke Inn, one of the well-known German/American family style restaurants.
Recently named by Smithsonian Magazine as one of America’s best small towns, Fairfield is big on culture and thriving on creativity. Fairfield is a unique place where the approach to life is spiced up with diverse culture, an eclectic scene of entertainment, shops, and eateries.
Finally, we’ll tour the famed American Gothic House which served as the inspiration and backdrop for Grant Wood’s most famous painting, “American Gothic.” one of the most recognized and parodied paintings in the world. Costumes and pitchforks are available to create your own memorable portrait!
Start by touring a National Military Museum and learning about the historic combat aircraft that defended our nation during WWII. Contact the Council Bluffs Convention and Visitors Bureau for tour options and information.
Visit an historic, fully furnished home of Civil War hero General Grenville Dodge. Tour a nationally renowned railroad museum. Visit a downtown City Park featuring an engraved wall listing fallen and missing soldiers from the Civil War through the War on Terrorism. Bronze sculptures, water fountain and landscaping make for a place of reflection.
Catered lunch and review military related artifacts at the local library. View a beautiful Civil War Monument and Memorial built to honor Colonel Williams Kinsman, commanding officer of Iowa’s 23rd infantry.
Enjoy a spectacular view at a National Monument from which President Lincoln and General Dodge discussed the transcontinental railroad.
Take in the “Road to Honor” – Eagle of Honor built as a lasting reminder of thankfulness for the military. Take a wine tasting break at a local winery. Enjoy dinner at an outstanding local restaurant and overnight at a local motel – breakfast included.
Swing into Clarinda and learn more about the greatest director, composer, trombonist and arranger of the Big Band Era, Alton Glenn Miller. Tour a birthplace museum featuring the original Glenn Miller Café-Rouge Band Stands, Miller’s AAF Band trombone, musical arrangements, photographs, and memorabilia from Miller’s past. Enjoy the Glenn Miller story movie during this visit if time allows. The Glenn Miller Birthplace Home is included in this tour.
Travel back in time as your step on guide provides the Clarinda Promenade tour. Have a fantastic lunch in one of Clarinda’s finest restaurants.
Learn about the World War II Prisoner of War camp housing both German and Japanese prisoners at our local museum complex. Enjoy an authentic German dinner with all the trimmings at the museum complex.
Arrange for overnight accommodations in Clarinda at one of our local motels featuring an indoor pool and free breakfast included. The Clarinda Chamber of Commerce will provide tour assistance for your entire visit.
Get a glimpse of the Civil War Era at a National Historic Landmark, and peek into a “secret” room used to shield fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad. Just 7 miles outside of Atlantic you begin another day of patriotic adventure.
Park the bus at another location on the National Register of Historic Places, the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce. Take a tour of this restored historic depot before you head downtown.
Just a few blocks away sip on an ice-cold Coca-Cola and celebrate more than 100 years of American history for one family owned bottling company. While you’re here don’t miss the memorabilia past and present of America’s favorite soft drink.
Stop by the candy counter at the five & dime store, browse the shelves upstairs and down. Take a trip back in time for a feeling of true Americana.
Quad Cities, West Branch, Waterloo, Marshalltown, Des Moines
Start your tour in the Quad Cities at the second oldest U.S. Army museum in the country! It features a premiere firearms collection and showcases the long history of the island and the products manufactured on site for the military. Next, take a driving tour with a step-on guide of the arsenal to see the National and Confederate cemeteries, tanks, artillery and the many buildings built from native limestone that house military and governmental offices.
Then, stop at the visitor’s center to learn about the Mississippi River while you watch barges lock through Lock & Dam 15 and see the world’s largest roller dam hold back the mighty waters of the Mississippi. In the winter, the migrating bald eagles love to feed at the open waters by the Lock & Dam. Use their spotting scopes to see these powerful creatures up close.
Now it’s time to relax and enjoy a meal, afternoon tea or refreshments at a golf club. This historic clubhouse was built in 1906 and it has the feel of the southern plantation home with open-air verandas and elegant dining rooms overlooking the golf course. You can also schedule your group to play a round of golf on the island’s 18-hole course.
Colonel George Davenport was the first permanent white settler in the Quad Cities and built the first house in the area in 1833. Take a guided tour of the furnished Colonel Davenport House to see what life was like for the early pioneer settlers on the Mississippi, and how the fur trade flourished in this area.
Tour another island mansion, built in the 1870’s. Quarters One was once the general’s home on the island and was considered the 2nd largest government-owned house – only the White House is larger. It boasts a spacious large central hall with a set of twin parlors, beautiful dining room, library, screened veranda, and a large lawn perfect for outdoor events.
Looking for a location that includes a beautiful sunset, relaxing atmosphere, great music and dancing while drifting on the Mississippi River, plus a fabulous dinner? Then the Celebration Belle’s Captain Dinner and Dance will fit that ticket! The prime rib is known to be the best on the Mississippi River. You will enjoy the three entrée buffet dinner, which is prepared by the chef fresh right onboard.
Spend the evening at the “hip and historic” Hotel Blackhawk, one of America’s Historic Hotels, or if you’re up for some gaming try your luck at The Isle Casino or Rhythm City Casino.
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before finding out where all these green tractors came from. Take a unique, hands-on look at the past, present and future of agribusiness and houses the world’s largest agricultural exhibit. Make sure to check out their famous specialty retail shop before leaving.
History lovers will enjoy touring the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch. Here, you’ll find displays that tell of the life and careers of Herbert Hoover, as well as a temporary gallery that features changing exhibits relating to American history. On the park grounds, tour birthplace cottage of President Hoover, reconstructed blacksmith shop, one-room schoolhouse, Friends meeting house, restored 76-acre tall grass prairie and gravesites of President Hoover and Mrs. Lou Henry Hoover.
Experience the “original horse power.” Enjoy a horse drawn wagon ride and a home cooked meal in a 100-year old barn. Horse power was used to plow the fields for planning crops and harvesting each fall. After dinner, enjoy a sing-along with Ruthie on the upright piano.
Visit an assembly plant that is the only location in North America that manufactures the big green tractors. During WWII, old production lines were converted and new ones built as factories mobilized to produce ammunition, wagons, airplane components and tank transmissions. View a historical film and then board a trolley that will take you through the complete manufacturing process.
The five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo all enlisted in the Navy together after a good friend of theirs was killed in action. Unfortunately, their ship went down in the Battle of Guadalcanal and these brothers were lost at sea. Visit the museum honoring these brothers and others at the Grout Museum District. The museum honors all veterans from Civil War to present day conflicts with interactive exhibits, oral histories and war time memorabilia.
Take a historical bus tour of downtown Waterloo. You will hear the town’s story as it grew from a milling community to an industrial area in the Midwest. Contact the Waterloo CVB for more information overnight accommodations.
After traveling down the Lincoln Highway, continue your destination to Marshalltown to visit their historic museum. Here you’ll take a complimentary tour to see many eras of military history from the Civil War through modern wars.
Now it’s time to travel to the capital city of Des Moines. Honor those who served the United States by visiting a museum and education center that reiterates the history of African American soldiers who served in WWI and the women who served in WWII.
Continue your patriotic mood to another museum that dedicates itself to the Iowa veteran. Displaying artifacts and telling stories from Iowa veterans that date back to the Mexican War of 1846 to the present day, this museum is a great attraction that honors those who fought for our freedom.
Des Moines is known for its rich history, cultural activity and exciting events that take place throughout the year. Contact the Greater Des Moines CVB for dining options that fit into your schedule and budget.
As the evening settles in, enjoy one of the area hot spots – Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino Hotel. This complex features thousands of slot machines and table games as well as thoroughbred and quarter horse racing spring through early fall.