Town Sign Project: Butler County

A few Saturdays back I cruised around Butler County with Carla harvesting their town signs. Here are some facts about Butler County:

+ Population is 14,628 (2019 estimate). That makes Butler County the 54th most populous county in Iowa. Below Kossuth County and above Harrison County.
+ The county seat is Allison.
+ The largest town is Parkersburg.
+ Organized in 1854.
+ Named after William Orlando Butler a U.S. Army general and a congressman from Kentucky.
+ Major highways are IA-3, IA-14, IA-57, and IA-188.
+ Adjacent counties are Floyd, Bremer, Black Hawk, Grundy, Franklin, Chickasaw, Cerro Gordo, and Hardin.
+ Population peaked in 1940 at 17,986.

The Butler County Courthouse isn’t much to look at:

Butler County Courthouse
The Butler County Courthouse located in Allison, Iowa.

The Butler County Freedom Rock is located in Greene, Iowa.

Butler County Freedom Rock

Butler County Freedom Rock

Butler County Freedom Rock

With Butler County conquered, this is the updated Photography 139 Conquest Map:

Town Sign Project - 31 Counties

31 counties completed. 31.3% of the Cyclone State conquered.

Here are the town signs of Butler County:

Parkersburg, Iowa
Parkersburg, Iowa
Population: 1,870

Clarksville, Iowa
Clarksville, Iowa
EST. 1853
Population: 1,439

Shell Rock, Iowa
Shell Rock, Iowa
Shell Rock
Population: 1,296

Greene, Iowa
Greene, Iowa (Also Floyd County)
Population: 1,130

Aplington, Iowa
Aplington, Iowa
Northeast Iowa’s best-kept secret
Population: 1,128

Allison, Iowa
Allison, Iowa
Welcome To ALLISON
Population: 1,029

Dumont, Iowa
Dumont, Iowa
Population: 637

New Hartford, Iowa
New Hartford, Iowa
City of Gardens
Population: 516

Bristow, Iowa
Bristow, Iowa
Home of Iowa’s Smallest Church
Population: 160

Aredale, Iowa
Aredale, Iowa
It’s not your Dale,
It’s not my Dale,
it’s Aredale.
Population: 74

Butler Center, Iowa
Butler Center, Iowa – Ghost Town

Butler County has this weird phenomenon where the larger a town gets, the worse its sign gets. It is hard to pick out the worst in show because it could go to any of the larger towns in the county. But I have to give it to Shell Rock. Their sign is even more disappointing when you juxtapose it with a mural in the downtown area that I will share at a different date.

I think there are 3 contenders for Best in Show for Butler County. Bristow, Aredale, and New Hartford. with Aplington being a dark horse contender. However, I have to give it to New Hartford and not just because I love their gardens. Which I do, I love their gardens.

New Hartford, Iowa
New Hartford – Best in Show – Butler County

A few towns did have alternate signs, including a fascinating one in Bristow, where the man who was the father of moder hot air ballooning was born. Here is an article from the Iowa History Journal I found on him:

Though brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier in Annonay, France, are credited with successfully launching the first free flight hot air balloon carrying human passengers in 1783, the invention of the first modern hot air balloon and the popularity of competitive ballooning is tethered to mid-20th century Iowa.

Gas-powered dirigibles made appearances in Iowa in the early 1900s at county fairs and other events. Some were shaped like teardrop hot air balloons seen today floating over Iowa, while others were designed like airships with propellers. Most, however, were crude by today’s standards as pilots often had to parachute to the ground as they were unable to control their landings.

Improved safety, maneuverability and distance were ushered in when the first modern hot air balloon was developed in 1960 by a native Iowan inventor.

Paul E. “Ed” Yost, who was born in Bristow in 1919, is considered the father of modern ballooning. He devoted his life to flying, particularly balloons. He was employed by the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1945; he flew airplanes in Alaska after the war until 1948; and in 1949 worked as a senior engineer and tracking pilot for the High Altitude Research Division of General Mills in Minneapolis, Minn., where he worked on many scientific high altitude balloon projects, including launching a 3.2 million-cubic-foot balloon carrying U.S. Navy instruments into the stratosphere to study cosmic rays in 1952.

Four years later, Yost and three others from General Mills formed Raven Industries. The U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research commissioned Raven Industries in Sioux Falls, S.D., to develop a hot air balloon capable of carrying one man and enough fuel to fly for up to three hours, reach an altitude of 10,000 feet and be reusable.

He worked with gasoline, kerosene, coal, oil and other fuels until he found propane worked best. It’s what pilots still use today.

“The first balloon didn’t have a basket; just a seat that looked like a lawn chair,” said Becky Wigeland, director of the National Balloon Museum in Indianola and co-author of “Indianola: Ballooning Capital of Iowa.” “It had upside down tanks on two sides and a small burner. It totally changed ballooning because they’d never had something that was reusable, and the only balloons people then had seen were gas balloons.”

The new balloon, with a nylon envelope, had its first flight in Bruning, Neb., on Oct. 22, 1960. Yost went on to develop a number of items related to ballooning, and he held 21 patents on balloons and lighter-than-air mechanisms. Among them, was a lightweight, disposable balloon that was used to send U.S. leaflets behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War and a balloon that carried a camera to photograph enemy territories. Another invention of his was a fast-deploying parachute used to deliver supplies to U.S. troops during the Vietnam War. He never sought compensation for his inventions because he saw them as necessary to solve problems and create techniques and devices that would make ballooning safer and possible.

Just three years after his invention, Yost and Don Piccard flew a modern hot air balloon nicknamed “Channel Champ” over the English Channel from England to France in a little more than three hours. The publicity generated by the flight brought worldwide attention to the fact that dependable, practical and relatively inexpensive balloons were now accessible to anyone.

Almost immediately, a new sport was born thanks to Yost. In 1961, the Balloon Federation of America, the ruling body of balloonists in the United States, was developed. The first National Hot Air Balloon Championship was held in Michigan in 1963 and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ballooning takes flight in Iowa

The first person in Iowa to own a modern balloon was an attorney from Fort Dodge named Don Kersten. He purchased a balloon from Piccard, who brought it to Iowa in July 1965 and taught him how to fly it.

“After three lessons, Piccard told him, ‘Ok, you’ve got your license,’” Wigeland said with a laugh.

The balloon was named “Merope” after his wife and that year he competed in the U.S. National Championships where he took third place. In the late 1960s, he was one of about a dozen hot air balloonists in the U.S. and he was instrumental in bringing the U.S. National Championships to Iowa.

So suck on that Indianola!

Here are the alternate signs of Butler County:

Clarksville, Iowa
Clarksville – Alternate

Clarksville, Iowa
Clarksville – Alternate (Yes Mollie B.!)

Parkersburg, Iowa
Parkersburg – Alternate

Greene, Iowa
Greene – Alternate

Greene, Iowa
Greene – Alternate

Dumont, Iowa
Dumont – Alternate

Bristow, Iowa
Bristow – Alternate

Here is the current list of Best in Shows:

Fontanelle, Iowa
Best in Show – Adair County

Audubon, Iowa
Best in Show – Audubon County

Norway, Iowa
Best in Show – Benton County

Moingona, Iowa
Best in Show – Boone County

New Hartford, Iowa
Best in Show – Butler County

Manson, Iowa
Best in Show – Calhoun County

Coon Rapids, Iowa
Best in Show – Carroll County

Murray, Iowa
Best in Show – Clarke County

Ricketts, Iowa
Best in Show – Crawford County

Dexter, Iowa
Best in Show – Dallas County

Popejoy, Iowa
Best in Show – Franklin County

Scranton, Iowa
Best in Show – Greene County

Beaman, Iowa
Best in Show – Grundy County

Menlo, Iowa
Best in Show – Guthrie County

Stanhope, Iowa
Best in Show – Hamilton County

Ackley, Iowa
Best in Show – Hardin County

Bradgate, iowa
Best in Show – Humboldt County

Ida Grove, Iowa
Best in Show – Ida County

Lynnville, Iowa
Best in Show – Jasper County

Lucas, Iowa
Best in Show – Lucas County

East Peru, Iowa
Best in Show – Madison County

Pleasantville, Iowa
Best in Show – Marion County

Haverhill, Iowa
Best in Show – Marshall County

Bondurant, Iowa
Best in Show – Polk County

Malcom, Iowa
Best in Show – Poweshiek County

Nemaha, Iowa
Best in Show – Sac County

Collins, Iowa
Best in Show – Story County

Tama, Iowa
Best in Show – Tama County

Creston, Iowa
Best in Show – Union County

Badger, Iowa
Best in Show – Webster County

Woolstock, Iowa
Best in Show – Wright County

The next time we check in on THE TOWN SIGN PROJECT, we will visit Warren County. Yes, the county so many of you have been wondering about. Finally on the docket.

2 thoughts on “Town Sign Project: Butler County”

  1. “Aredale” is a worse pun than “Hollerday” (which is still my favorite overall), so I have to give it my vote.

  2. I was 100% pronouncing it Air-Dale until I read the sign. I’m not good at guessing how town names are pronounced.

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