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NRHS Cedar Rapids to Rock Island Steam Westbound Trip 6/19/2012 Part 2

by Chris Guenzler

We waited in Rock Island but soon we felt the release of the brakes.

The train started to move forward.

Taking the curve out of the Rock Island Yard.

Heading for the Mississippi River and Iowa.

The train crossed the Mississippi River.

Taking the curve into Davenport and our lunch stop which I didn't eat. I walked straight to the front to our train.

Our train sitting in Davenport while our passengers ate their box lunches.

Nathan and Iowa Interstate QJ 6988. After that I got a bottle of water and sat under a tree. Bart used a yellow police tape to make a photo line using three trees. I sat in front of the last tree.

The first back up move to do the Photo Runby which we would do twice.

Photo Runby 1 in Davenport.

Back up move 2.

Bart checks the cloud location before giving the OK for Photo Runby 2.

Photo Runby 2 at Davenport. We reboarded all our passengers and headed back to Cedar Rapids. I would relax and socialize all the way back. The train stopped for servicing the engine in Iowa City and trash removal from the train. We arrived back into Dow-Smith Yard at 6:55 PM and then took the school buses back to the Clarion Hotel. We returned to the Motel 6 where I uploaded this story and then Nathan and I went to have dinner. We returned in time to get ready for the night photo session tonight. What a third great trip our NRHS 2012 Convention Staff gave to all the passengers.

While I would like to do all events at the NRHS 2012 Convention, certain non rail events always go on during the railroad events. Below is the information for the one that took place during our steam run today and some pictures I would take at each of the event locations.

Amana Heritage Tour

The Amana Colonies are a major tourist attraction known mainly for their restaurants, craft shops, and beautiful scenery. Included in the shops are woodworking shops, wine shops, and a brewery, and a woolen mill. The streets of the Amana Colonies, with their historic brick, stone and clapboard homes, their flower and vegetable gardens, their lanterns and walkways recall the America of yesterday. The colonies as a whole have been listed as a National Historic Landmark since 1965. The history of Amana is somewhat complex and the community's website ( does a great job of detailing it. However, here is a short version. The 1700s were a changing times in world religions. At this time, the belief of Pietism, or the belief that "God, through the Holy Spirit, may inspire individuals to speak," was conflicting with the traditional belief that God only acted through church leaders. This inspiration was the basis for a religious group that began meeting in 1714 and became known as the Community of True Inspiration. Although attempting to avoid conflict, they were persecuted for their beliefs before finding refuge in central Germany. However, even here, persecution and an economic depression in Germany forced the community to begin searching for a new home.

Led by Christian Metz, the group hoped to find religious freedom in America and left Germany in 1843-44. Members pooled their resources and purchased some 5,000 acres near Buffalo, New York to form a community for some 1,200 people. The community was known as the Ebenezer Society and they adopted a constitution that formalized their communal way of life. However, after about ten years, the community began to be impacted by the growth of Buffalo. The group then moved to Iowa where they purchased approximately 26,000 acres and created the seven Amana villages. Each village was designed to serve farms on the property and were located about an hour of wagon travel apart. Each village was laid out in classic, old-world style, resembling the German "Dorf" of their homeland, with one long street and several offshoots. The barns and sheds were located at one end of the village while the factories and workshops were located at the other end. Each village had its own church, school, bakery, dairy, wine cellar, post office and general store. While visiting the area, note that each village is dominated by the farm complex. Each farm complex consisted of several barns. Essential to each village were an Ochsenstall (ox barn), Gaustall (horse barn), Fullerstall (colt barn), Kuhstall (cow barn), and a Saustall (hog barn). Completing the farm complex were machine sheds, corn cribs, buggy sheds, granaries, and other farm buildings.

Each of the seven Amana villages had a specific area of cropland, pasture, and timber assigned to it. Each of these seven farms had a farm manager who supervised the day-to-day farming operations. All seven farm managers reported to the colony's general farm manager who assigned the acreage and crops each farm would produce as well as the livestock assignments. Barley was an important crop to the German colonists who used considerable amounts in the production of beer and livestock feed. Each village grew large amounts of potatoes which were served by the kitchen houses at every meal. Rye, beets, and turnips were also prominent in crop cultivation and in the kitchen houses. The Amana Colonies were also famous for their onions which were considered to have a delicate flavor and to be long lasting. The Amana Colony farmers also grew a small amount of tobacco to be used as pipe tobacco and in cigars for Society consumption. Non-food crops were also grown, including broomcorn and willows, used in making brooms and baskets. Each village had no more than five acres of broomcorn and about one-fourth acre dedicated to willow cultivation. The willows were brought from Germany to Ebenezer and then to the Amana Colonies. A goal of the group was to be self-sufficient, to make much of what they needed for their communal lifestyle. According to the Amana website, the "original Amana Colonies settlers made their farm implements, formed their bricks from area clay deposits, cut stones from nearby quarries, wove the fabric for their clothing, constructed grandfather clocks and other timepieces, made furniture for residents' homes, created baskets and brooms for a wide range of uses, cultivated vegetables in community gardens, pressed their own grapes for the village wines, printed and bound their own books, and invented many utensils for use in the great communal kitchens where all the colonists dined together everyday. The Amana Colonists developed a highly successful form of communism, not because of any philosophical or social ideal, but because it was seen as the best way to leave them free to worship in peace. All goods were held in common, except clothing, toys and other personal items. They all contributed their labor to the communal enterprises and, in turn, the Society took care of all of their food, shelter and clothing needs." However, trade was important to the survival of the Colonies. Most of the excess crops and goods were sold to surrounding communities, and even across the country. For example, the "mills and factories were among the first established in Iowa, and their woolen mills were widely known for quality and value." The importance of this outside income for the survival of the colonies became clear with the depression of the 1930s. In an attempt to survive this economic problem, the people voted in 1932 to separate their religious and economic interests and fully adopt the free enterprise system. This event is known in the Colonies as "The Great Change" and it also marked the end of a long period of determined isolationism.

Here are a few interesting facts about Amana. When the Amana Colonies were founded in 1855, all musical instruments were banned, except the flute. Members of Amana's Community of True Inspiration were not buried side-by-side with family members, but in chronological order according to their deaths. Finally, the Amana Colonies claim to be the Bratwurst Capital of the World. Today, more than 1.5 million tourists visit the Colonies each year. The entire settlement of seven villages is a National Historic Landmark with over 475 historical sites and buildings, including five museums. Even with "The Great Change" many of the original Amana Colonies' products such as hardwood furniture, clocks, crafts, woolens, meats, cheeses, breads, wines and other items are available to shoppers in a variety of shops throughout the villages. Farming continues to be the Amana Colonies' biggest business. Crops of corn, soy beans, oats, and alfalfa cover the Amana Colony soil and Gelbvieh, Angus and Charolais cattle are raised.

Amana - Amana, also known as Main Amana, is the heart of today's Amana Colonies. In 1855, members of the group began their move to the Iowa River valley in Iowa and named their community Amana (which means to remain faithful). Today, this is where most of the restaurants, craft stores, and tourists can be found, using most of the historic buildings. The Amana Woolen Mill is Iowa's only operating woolen mill. The Amana Woolen Mill has had a colorful history, surviving fires, floods and wind storms. The mill equipment was moved and construction of a woolen mill in Amana was begun in 1857. The mill not only produced goods for the community's use, but gained a reputation nationally for their goods.

East Amana - East Amana was established in 1859 by members of the Amana Society. East Amana is located east of the main colony of Amana, thus its name. Today, East Amana is a cluster of a few houses and farms and has few businesses.

High Amana - High Amana was founded 1857. The High Amana Farm Complex is one of the most complete farm complexes still in existence in the Colonies. Today, the buildings are still used as part of a working farm and for crop, livestock and forestry managers' offices. The High Amana General Store opened in 1858, and today the smell of handmade soap and kerosene lanterns lingers. The shelves are stocked with dry goods and merchandise reminiscent of bygone days.

Homestead - A post office opened near here in 1852 with the name Homestead. In 1860, the community was bought by the Amana Society to access the railroad which was building through the site. With the railroad connection, Homestead became an important part of the Colonies. An important facility here was the Amana Community Church. Today a museum, this building, or Saal (church or meetinghouse), was built in 1865. Nearby is the Homestead Store, often the center of commerce for the villages. It has also been turned into a museum, this one featuring a display of Colony buildings in miniature plus an examination of the community's relationship with the "outside world." The Homestead Blacksmith Shop and Print Shop are also still standing. This facility occasionally features blacksmith, printing and bookbinding demonstrations.

Middle Amana - Founded in 1862 as the last of the Amana Colonies, Middle Amana is the location of the Amana Refrigeration factory. This is the only major manufacturing plant in the Amana Colonies. Employing over 2000 workers, the appliances made here have a fine reputation for quality. Originally, Amana was the product of former Colonists, but the company left Colony hands long ago and was acquired by another Iowan appliance giant, Maytag - itself of Mennonite origins. Today, both are owned by Whirlpool. Middle Amana is also the location of the area schools and has the most modern feel of the seven colonies. Just to its east of Middle Amana is the Lily Lake. Lily Lake was formed about 1880 when a break in the Mill Race levee flooded a low slough area. The lake derives its name from the thousands of yellow American lotus lilies which bloom across the 170-acre lake in the summertime. The lake served as a source of ice for both Amana and Middle Amana, which was then stored in village ice houses. The lake also provided recreational opportunities for the colonists including fishing and ice-skating. During the communal period, lilies from the lake were sold to tourists, thus providing the colonists with a source of additional income. The Communal Kitchen at Middle Amana is like stepping back in time. It is preserved just as it was on the day in 1932 when the last communal meal was served in the Colony. Located at Middle Amana, the Hahn family continues to operate the last open hearth bakery in the Colonies. The bakery is open Tuesday-Saturday, starting at 7:30am, and stays open until all products are sold, often not long after breakfast.

South Amana - South Amana was founded in 1856. The Communal Agriculture Museum is located in a barn built in 1858, one of the oldest barns in the seven villages. Tools, implements and photographs from Amana's communal era depict operations on the nation's largest communal farm.

West Amana - West Amana was founded in 1856. During the communal era of the Amana Colonies, West Amana was the site of one of the two large grist mills. The other was at Amana. Today, this community is little changed from the last days of communal living.

That is what we did at the 2012 NRHS Cedar Rapids Convention on this date.