Highway 2 Barn Tour and Picnic - 2005
Highway 2, a verdant old world highway dotted with picturesque towns, hugged by history book trails, and embellished with occasional wagon tracks, was the focus of a self-guided tour June 4 and 5, 2005 sponsored by the Iowa Barn Foundation. The Iowa Barn Foundation's annual picnic and meeting was held on Sunday, June 5, at 12:30 p.m. at The Ramsey Farm at Lesanville, an idyllic restored village, east of Mount Ayr. A barbecue lunch was included, which cost $9.50 per person.
While viewing magnificent barns, quaint villages, an Amish store, and historic sites, visitors were able to transcend time and revere settlers heading west who braved disease, weariness, storms, hard work, and unknown challenges in their quest for a new life on a new frontier.
In the eastern part of the state, the highway is roughly associated with the establishment of an east-west territorial road along a wagon trail, surveyed in 1844, that was followed by the routes of Mormons. In the mid-1850's, Western Stage, a stagecoach line, etched out a route across the southern part of the state, accommodating settlers headed for Kansas.
Going from west to east across Highway 2, stops included:
Clarinda Mental Hospital Barns. Three magnificent Clarinda barns including a one-of-a-kind three-story brick horse barn, built in 1905, at the Clarinda Mental Hospital, 307 W. Oak Street. Each horse had its own window.
Also, on view in the same location will be a large heifer barn and dairy barn originally built on the facility and now owned by Dr. Kenneth Jensen, Clarinda physician. In 1934, a fire took the original dairy barn, built in 1924. It was replaced in 1935 by the grand dairy barn now at the site. The heifer barn, built in 1924, was saved from the fire, and is original. Take Highway 2 to Highway 71. Bypass to Glenn Miller Avenue, to N. 160th Street, to Oak Street. Photos of all three barns, taken by Ken Dunker, are shown on the right (click the photos to enlarge them).
Taylor County Round Barn, 1001 Pollock, Bedford. This large round barn was built south of Lenox by J.E. Cameron in 1907. It deteriorated, was split into two sections, and moved to its present site. Original materials were used where possible. The barn is 50 feet high, 70 feet in diameter, and 220 feet in circumference. A circular track hangs from the haymow floor supporting a Louden Litter Bucket. A photo of the barn, taken by Richard Schmeal, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).
The Ramsey Farm at Lesanville (15 miles west of I-35 and five miles east of Mount Ayr on Highway 2). Solomon Lesan, one of the first settlers of Ringgold County, obtained his farm from the government in 1855. Eventually several farms owned by Lesans made up the little village of Lesanville which even had a post office. The Sunday Iowa Barn Foundation picnic will be held at nostalgic village. A photo of the barn, taken by Richard Schmeal, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).
Goodman's Octagonal Barn was built in 1905 by Aaron Goodman to house farm horses. Half pie slice-shaped stalls lined the perimeter of the barn. Paul and Terri Vaughn purchased the farm in 1990 from Aaron Goodman's children. The barn is featured in the Lowell Soike book, "Without Right Angles". From the four-way stop at the west edge of Leon (Highways 2 and 69), turn left on US 69 and proceed three miles north. The farm house is on the east side of the highway with the barn behind it. A photo of the barn, taken by Richard Schmeal, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).
Pre-Civil War Barn on the lovely Grand River was built by Joseph Crees, Pennsylvania native, who lived in a log cabin east of the farm site before building a home and a "large commodious barn for his stock and grain." Hand-whittled pins were used to join the frame pieces. Known as the VanLaar barn, it is now owned by the Steve McClallen Family. Go east on Highway 2 past Highway 294 (Grand River turn-off) and continue 2.5 miles east to 155th Avenue. Turn north onto 155th and go 1/2 mile where the road bends to the right and then left again. The road is now 160th Avenue. Go 4.75 miles north. Before the river bridge will be Fawn Drive. Turn onto Fawn Drive to see the barn. A photo of the barn, taken by Ken Dunker, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).
The International Center for Rural Culture and Art is a 93-acre site one mile east of Allerton. A focus point is a 50-foot in diameter barn which was built in 1912 and features a spectacular loft void of support columns due to its web-like construction. Also on site are an old schoolhouse and church which point out to visitors how people lived. A photo of the barn, taken by Richard Schmeal, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).
Centerville, Appanoose County seat, has become a Midwest landmark since its recent restoration. The Continental Hotel, a nice stopping place, was rehabilitated by Exline native, Morgan Cline.
The Exline Store and Antique Exchange, an old-fashioned country store created and owned by Morgan Cline, is a community gathering point with its pot-bellied stove and friendliness. Ice cream cones will be handed out at the store to tour-goers! Go nine miles south of Centerville on Highway 5. Turn east on T 30 to Exline. Store is on Main Street.
Livingston, Iowa, in southwest Appanoose County, is being restored by area residents. The once-bustling town of Livingston was named for Livingston Parker, early settler, minister, postmaster, publisher, and engineer who laid out railroads and canals in New York and Ohio. The nostalgic cemetery is the burial site of an 1812 war veteran. A photo of the Franklin Baptist Church, taken by Richard Schmeal, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).
On Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Historic Livingston Foundation will sell sandwiches for $6.50 each. To reserve a sandwich, call Linda Ballanger, (641)-898-2388. Go south of Centerville on Highway 5 to the John Deere store. Turn west on Highway J46. Follow J46 through Numa and west to 135th Avenue. Turn south on gravel road (135th Avenue) and drive 3.5 miles.
Yoder's Kountry Korner, Highway 2 and Ice Avenue, Bloomfield, is a large and authentic Amish store specializing in Amish furniture, quilts, harnesses, and other horse equipment. Jake and Enos Yoder are renowned for their Percheron and black Morgan horses. (Open only Saturday.)
Trimble-Parker Historic District is a historic farmstead with four barns including a large U-shaped cattle barn built in 1901. The farmstead is on the National Register. The farm is owned by Levelcrest Farm Partnership. Glenn and Ann-Marie Baughman will be hosts. (Travel three miles east of Bloomfield on Highway 2. Turn north on Nuthatch. At the next stop sign, turn right on Otter Trail. Go one-fourth mile to Old Highway 2 towards the Davis County Home; the farmstead is where concrete joins gravel.) You can view photos of the farmstead at the Trimble-Parker Historic District Web site.