Sunday, June 28, 2015


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.

Sunday, June 14, 2015


We took a day trip on June 13 to Nauvoo IL to visit the LDS Visitor Center, restored buildings, and Family Search Center. The time we spent at the latter did not leave as much time as I would have liked to explore the Visitors Center and restored buildings. 4 to 5 hours would have been better.

The roots of the LDS church go back to Joseph Smith in New York State in 1820. The church leaders, with many of the members, migrated to Missouri and then to undeveloped land in far eastern Illinois on the Mississippi River. They bought the city of Commerce and renamed it Nauvoo where they settled in 1838 - 1839. There they built a temple, substantial brick homes and commercial buildings. Local religious persecution caused them to begin to move westward in 1846, ending in July 1847 in Utah. An arson fire gutted the Nauvoo temple in 1848, and high winds in 1850 completed its destruction.

Members of the church began moving back to Nauvoo in the 1950s when a local congregation was organized.  Beginning in 1992 the LDS church began restoration of part of Nauvoo. It rebuilt the temple, completed in 2002, similar to the original and bought the land on which its early members had built their homes. The homes which were still standing were restored to their original  conditions and others were built on the original foundations to replicate much of the early village. Now those going to the Nauvoo Visitors Center can learn the  history of the church when its members lived at Nauvoo and go through many of the old homes guided by  missionary docents. The restoration has been called the Williamsburg of the Midwest.


 Pictures were taken by a Canon Power Shot 150 14 mp digital camera.



The temple is located on a bluff overlooking the lower area where the original LDS buildings are located.



The Visitors Center has static displays, theaters for movies about the church, plays and pageants. Visitors can enjoy wagon tours, carriage rides, oxen rides and a handcar trek. Many events are ticketed, and the tickets are free. I welcomed the very wide parking places in the parking lot. The missionary docents were very nice and would have been happy if the visitor was at all interested in converting. 



This log building was both a home and a school.



We toured this home. The rooms are quite small by our standards, and the stairway to the second floor is very steep with  uncomfortably small steps.


 This is part of the commercial area with a print shop, bakery, post office and tin shop.



 Jo is entering Brigham Young’s home. He became the leader of the church after Joseph Smith was killed in 1844. This building is the original, not a reproduction. It has a carriage house and root cellar. The interior pictures below were taken here.




This is a meeting room in Mr. Young’s home, and his picture is on  wall.


Two bedrooms in Mr. Young’s home.