On May 12, 2007 Erynn and I took the Elise for a spin down to Iowa City to the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site (N41 40.252 W91 20.742). The actual site is a few minutes away from Iowa City in West Branch, but for all intents and purposes it's right in the middle of Hawkeye country. The drive itself is just over an hour and the weather was beautiful. Erynn learned that just because you're in a car doesn't mean you won't get a sun burn when the top is off. The drive from Dubuque was along a bunch of country roads through the heart of eastern Iowa. The coolest thing was that on the way back we got passed by someone in a Carrera GT like we were standing still. It must have been a cool site to those around seeing a $500,000 Porsche and a Lotus screaming down a back country road in Iowa. It certainly put a smile on Erynn and my faces.
As I just mentioned, the real reason for the trip was to take the Lotus for a spin. So we needed a destination and one of only two national parks in the state was a nice choice. The photo on the left shows the car with Hoover's birthplace in the background. They were replacing many of the walkways so many of my photos were ruined by the orange safety fencing. The photo on the right shows Erynn patiently waiting for me as I jump out of the car to take a photo of the park sign.
On the site are a nice visitor center, a few of the old buildings including Hoover's birthplace, and the Hoover presidential library. We were able to see everything is just over an hour. Above are some photos from the visitor center.
This little two bedroom cottage was where Herbert Hoover was born. From these humble beginnings in the middle of Iowa he became a self-made millionaire in the mining and construction industries, traveled to the far corners of the globe, and became President of the United States. I asked one of the park rangers why this particular site became a National Historic Site and not other presidential birthplaces and libraries weren't. Apprently the folks in West Branch just asked the government for the status and they got it. Huh!?! Just that simple.
Here's a reconstructed version of his father's blacksmith shop. As with most national parks, park rangers have a number of demonstrations and educational programs though none were on offer the day we were there.
The one room school house.
The Hoovers were Quakers, and right across the street was the Quaker Friends Meetinghouse built in 1857.
During the First World War Hoover organized and directed the Commission for Relief in Belgium which helped feed millions of people in Belgium and northern France. There is a large section of the presidential library devoted to telling the story of this effort. As a sign of gratitude the people of Belgium donated this Statue of Isis (the Goddess of Life) to Hoover. The statue is bronze and was designed by Auguste Puttemans.
The Hoover Presidential Library is only a few hundred yards from the birthplace cottage. It serves as a museum that chronicles his entire life and was quite interesting. There were no photos allowed inside.
On the hill overlooking the entire park is the burial site. The view was incredible and very solemn. Both Erynn and I were very glad we took the time to tour the park and pay our respects.
After touring the National Historic Site, we drove the ten miles to Iowa City to have dinner at India Cafe (N41 39.603 W91 31.918) and drive around town a bit. Erynn is working on here masters degrees in nursing and public health as the University of Iowa. Below are some photos from the day and some other bonus photos from previous trips to Iowa City.
Here's Erynn in front of the nursing school building.
A couple photos of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
Some photos of Kinnick Stadium, which is known for its pink visitors locker room. Being from Ohio... Go Bucks!!!
The University of Iowa campus is split down the middle by the Iowa River. Here are a couple views of the various bridges that cross the river on campus. There are even a couple pedestrian only brdiges. It's a huge state college that just seems to sprawl. The one good thing with having a river run through campus is giving ready access to the rowing team.
The photo on the left is of the boathouse on campus (N41 39.833 W91 32.259) that houses the men's and women's team along with the Old Capitol Rowing Club. The building is actually very cool because the entire outer shell is clad in copper plates. Very cool for its current size but impossible to expand if the clubs grow.
And here is a picture of the Old Capitol building. The current capitol is in Des Moines.
Erynn is not a Hawkeye fan. She just attends the University of Iowa...
© 2007 Doug Rathburn. All rights reserved.