On July 19, 20 and 21, 2011 we visited the Amana Colonies in Iowa. It was still so hot it was pretty much unbearable. The colonies are located in some beautiful Iowa countryside, and had some of the most beautiful farms we have ever seen.
Over the 3 days we spent in the area we visited the 7 "villages" that make up the colonies, East Amana, Amana, Middle Amana, High Amana, West Amana, South Amana and Homestead. The area was settled in the 1850's by a German religious group, the Community of True Inspiration.
In Iowa this group lived a communal type of life style. The villages are all built close together, about 6 miles or so from Amana. A village may have contained 40 to 100 houses, there would be a church, school, bakery, dairy, saw mill, fire engine, post office and general store. There were communal kitchens. All adults had jobs they were responsible for. Each town had it's own cemetery, the dead were interred in the order of their death, not by family groups (and, yes, I have photos, and yes, I will share these with you in a Tombstone Tuesday meme post).
A nice summary of the history of the colonies can be found here.
Our first stop was the Amana Heritage Museum in Amana.
This is a well done museum, we spent quite a bit of time learning, ooohhing and ahhhing over the collections, school rooms, toys, holiday decorations, textiles. There were exhibits describing traditions, marriages, cemeteries, death and funerals. There was a wash house and woodshed, tools galore, the list was long, extensive, very comprehensive. I took quite a few photos, will only share a very few here, and some are cropped so as to not give away the placement of the artifacts in the museum. Some of the staff did not encourage, in fact they forbade photos, they were very concerned about security. Other staff members did not mention a thing about it, and in fact saw me taking photos and did not discourage. So, I will give you a bit of flavor and then, you really must visit yourself!
Below, these gloves were beautifully crafted.
Below: a travelers bag, handmade to carry their belongings while traveling, some were 5 feet long and when full might also serve as a pillow or a bed. Yes, that date is 1838, amazing isn't it?? We have visited quite a few museums over the years, but, have never seen one of these.
If you can get past the reflections of Man and Moi in the photo below, you will see a prototype of the Radar Range, the signage indicated it was developed just before 1968. Curious, check out the Wikipedia page. How many of us remember this? Did you have one?
After learning and enjoying much at this museum we called it a day, we drove around a bit, and then headed back to camp. On the 20th, we would venture out again to see the Amana Colonies. More about that soon.