As you’ve sped along U.S. 20 at Independence, you’ve likely seen a huge red barn with a glass silo on the north side of the road. That’s the Heartland Acres Agribition Center, our first stop for the day — and one we’d highly recommend. Heartland Acres is Iowa’s largest agriculture museum. There are a number of interactive displays like cow milking, rope and fence making, and corn shelling and grinding.
That makes it a great place to take children or grandchildren—they can get a hands-on sense for days gone by while you reminisce.
Plan to spend several hours there because this place is huge. At the entrance to one room there’s a jukebox from the 1950s. We punched a couple of buttons on the jukebox for old times’ sake, and as it played Stranger in Paradise by the Four Aces, we strolled among a collection of some of the shiniest antique cars we’ve ever seen.
There was a 1921 Lincoln touring car, a 1929 Packard convertible and a ’57 Thunderbird, to name a few. The Packard, by the way, was cream colored and accented with bumper-to-bumper chrome—a real beauty that had a factory list price of $4,800. The haymow area of the barn includes a timeline of exhibits and artifacts from 1830, when the Iowa Territory was first being settled, on up to modern-day farming.
There’s a machine shed filled with farm equipment on the museum grounds as well as a one-room country schoolhouse. The country school is very fitting because in 1901, there were 12,623 rural schoolhouses dotting Iowa. That’s more than were found in any other state. We got a kick out of a list of rules and expectations for the teacher displayed on her desk inside the schoolhouse. Among them:
• The teacher could not marry or keep company with men during the school term.
• She had to be at home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., unless at school.
• She was required to wear two petticoats, and under no circumstances could she dye her hair.
• She had to scrub the schoolhouse floor once a week with hot soapy water.
My, how things have changed!
This content previously appeared in the popular “Road Trip” series in Our Iowa Magazine. Learn more about the publication at www.OurIowaMagazine.com.