We visited the Amana Colonies about 100 miles west of our RV park in Colona IL on June 27. Jo’s sister Arla was able to join us for the day. This was the clearest day we had in recent weeks. Our first stop was the Visitors Center in Amana. There we learned that the Amana Colonies never had any connection with the Amish. The Amana Colonies were founded by a group named the Inspirationists which began in Germany and Switzerland, made up mainly of former Lutherans. Persecution in Europe drove them first to Pennsylvania in 1842 and in 1855 to Iowa where they bought a total of 26,000 acres in the Iowa River valley. The group led a communal life until 1932. Their economic base was in farming plus a calico works, two woolen mills, craft shops, flour mills, lumber yards and brick works.
There were seven villages: Amana, Middle Amana, High Amana, West Amana, South Amana, East Amana and Homestead. A brochure on the area at the Visitors Center shows 45 attractions just in Amana and 53 in the remaining six villages combined. We took the 17 mile drive through all seven and found that the main attractions were in Amana. Most offered items for sale, with an emphasis on antique stores, restaurants, Inns, craft shops and food shops. The corporation which made Amana refrigerators and air conditioning units began here and its plant in Middle Amana still is going strong with 2000 employees.
There is a cell phone tour of the Colonies. You will need a cell phone tour card available at the Visitors Center or any of the General Stores, the number to call, and the number of which of the 13 numbered locations you want information. Then you can listen to a talk about the place. Unfortunately, we became aware of the arrangement after completing our tour of the villages.
The pictures were taken in a 14 mp Canon Power Shot SX 150 IS digital camera.
Our first stop after the Visitors Center, above, was the Quilt Shop, below. Jo is at the left and Arla, right. I stayed long enough to take the pictures and wandered on to some of many antique shops. One had a used quilt from Pennsylvania priced at $350.00
Here is the butcher shop and Smoke House. All sorts of edibles were for sale, fresh meats, cheeses (made in Wisconsin), processed meats, jams and jellies, to name a few.
The large sizes of the old homes attracted my attention. I asked one of the store clerks about the size of the homes and was told that some were for extended families of several generations and that others were built as two or three family homes for unrelated families. This one had a large front and a larger frame extension at the rear.
Here is a view of the main street in Amana.
The Amana General Stores in the area are owned and operated by the Amana Society corporation which owns most of the former communal land in the area and several of the businesses.
We had a nice lunch at the Ronneburg Restaurant. The building was built as one of 50 communal kitchen house where members were fed three meals a day until 1932. I was very pleased that it had public wifi for updating my smart phone apps.
I admired this 1928 Model A coupe with rumble seat.