Category Archives: Town Sign Project

TOWN SIGN PROJECT: CARROLL COUNTY

I recently drove through Carroll County to harvest all the signs in Carroll that I was missing. I didn’t run across any interesting historical markers in Carroll County, so might as well just get straight to it.

Here is a look at the Carroll County Photo Map. Once again, the boundaries of Carroll County are approximate at best:


Carroll County Photo Map
Carroll County Photo Map

And with Carroll County completed, this is the updated Photography 139 Conquest Map:


Town Sign Project - 9 Counties
PURPLE=COMPLETED

Here are the towns signs of Carroll County (Population Stats from 2010 Census):


Carroll, Iowa
Carroll, Iowa
Carroll
Population: 10,103

Manning, Iowa
Manning, Iowa
Manning – It’s Refreshing!
Population: 1,500

Coon Rapids, Iowa
Coon Rapids, Iowa
Coon Rapids – In the Heart of Corn Country
Population: 1,305

Glidden, Iowa
Glidden, Iowa
Glidden
Population: 1,146

Arcadia, Iowa
Arcadia, Iowa
Arcadia
Population: 1,146

Breda, Iowa
Breda, Iowa
Welcome To Breda
Population: 483

Templeton, Iowa
Templeton, Iowa
Welcome to Templeton – A Strong Community Spirit
Population: 362

Dedham, Iowa
Dedham, Iowa
Dedham Welcomes You
Population: 266

Halbur, Iowa
Halbur, Iowa
Welcome to Halbur
Population: 246

Lidderdale, Iowa
Lidderdale, Iowa
Lidderdale
Population: 180

Lanesboro, Iowa
Lanesboro, Iowa
Welcome to Lanesboro
Population: 121

Willey, Iowa
Willey, Iowa
Willey
Population: 88

Ralston, Iowa
Ralston, Iowa
Ralston
Population: 79

Mt. Carmel, Iowa
Mt. Carmel, Iowa – I don’t even know what Mt. Carmel is, it isn’t listed as an unincorporated community, but it isn’t exactly a ghost town either, but it does exist.

Carrollton, Iowa
Carrollton, Iowa – Ghost Town

It is very obvious that Carroll has the worst town sign in Carroll County, and it isn’t even close. Although Breda’s sign is pretty terrible. As is the sign for Arcadia and Lidderdale.

There are some really good town signs in Carroll County though. Manning has a great sign, but I have no clue why Manning is refreshing. Templeton, also has a great and clever town sign, with the tie in to their local distillery. However, the best town sign in Carroll County is pretty obvious:


Coon Rapids, Iowa
Coon Rapids – Carroll County Best in Show – The best part, that ear of corn spins!!!

Some of these towns did have alternate town signs I’d like to share:


Coon Rapids, Iowa
Coon Rapids – Alternate

Lanesboro, Iowa
Lanesboro – Alternate #1

Lanesboro, Iowa
Lanesboro – Alternate #2

Templeton, Iowa
Templeton – Alternate

Also, while I was on this trip I found an alternate sign for the Greene County sign of Scranton:


Scranton, Iowa
Scranton – Alternate

Here is the current list of Best in Shows:


Moingona, Iowa
Best in Show – Boone County

Scranton, Iowa
Best in Show – Greene County

Collins, Iowa
Best in Show – Story County

Stanhope, Iowa
Best in Show – Hamilton County

Badger, Iowa
Best in Show – Webster County

Dexter, Iowa
Best in Show – Dallas County

Bondurant, Iowa
Best in Show – Polk County

Haverhill, Iowa
Best in Show – Marshall County

Coon Rapids, Iowa
Best in Show – Coon Rapids

Here is the updated BENNETT TOWN SIGN POWER RANKINGS:


Scranton, Iowa
#10. Scranton

Boone, Iowa
#9. Boone

Liscomb, Iowa
#8. Liscomb

Dexter, Iowa
#7. Dexter

Templeton, Iowa
#6. Templeton

Haverhill, Iowa
#5. Haverhill

Farnhamville, Iowa #3 - East Side
#4. Farnhamville

Pilot Mound, Iowa
#3. Pilot Mound

Moingona, Iowa
#2. Moingona

Coon Rapids, Iowa
#1. Coon Rapids

The next county we will visit is Crawford County.

Town Sign Project: Marshall County

I recently drove around Marshall County to harvest all the town signs there that I am missing. One of the things I like to do is visit any historical markers that are on my journey. If I know of a particularly interesting (or in this case tragic) historical marker that isn’t on my way, I will go out of my way to visit such a historical marker. One of these is in Marshall County. It is the site of the Green Mountain Train Wreck. The worst railroad tragedy in Iowa history. 52 people were killed and another 39 injured.

Here is the historical marker to mark the site of this tragedy:


Greatest Iowa Railroad Tragedy

Greatest Iowa Railroad Tragedy

Here is more information from Wikipedia on the tragedy:

The Green Mountain train wreck is the worst ever railroad accident in the state of Iowa, USA. It occurred between Green Mountain and Gladbrook on the morning of March 21, 1910, and killed 52 people.

A train wreck earlier that morning at Shellsburg meant that the Rock Island Line trains were being diverted from Cedar Rapids to Waterloo over Chicago Great Western tracks via Marshalltown. The trains concerned were the No. 21 St Louis-Twin Cities and No. 19 Chicago-Twin Cities; which had been combined into a ten car train with the two locomotives travelling backwards, tender first. The new combined train now had two wooden cars sandwiched between the locomotives, a steel Pullman car, and other steel cars.

Between Green Mountain and Gladbrook, just east of the Marshall County border, the lead engine left the tracks and hit a clay embankment coming to a sudden stop. The steel cars sliced through the two wooden coaches: a smoking car and a ladies’ day coach containing many children. There were no fatalities in the Pullman cars. One of the uninjured passengers said, “I saw women in the coach crushed into a bleeding mass, their bodies twisted out of human shape. I have seen what I shall see all my life when I dream.” A relief train arrived two hours after the accident. It was later reported, “The sight was one of horribly crushed, mutilated, and dismembered bodies.”

Here is a picture of the wreck I found on a website called Cardboard America:


Green Mountain Train Wreck

The railroad tracks themselves no longer exist. My best research says that the tracks were abandoned in the 1980s. I haven’t seen any documentation on when the tracks were removed. But enough sadness. Here is a look at the Marshall County Photo Map:


Marshall County Photo Map
Marshall County Photo Map

And with Marshall County completed, this is what the Photography 139 Conquest Map looks like:


Town Sign Project - 8 Counties
PURPLE=COMPLETED

Here are the town signs of Marshall County:


Marshalltown, Iowa
Marshalltown, Iowa
Marshalltown Welcomes You
Population: 27,552

State Center, Iowa
State Center, Iowa
Rose Capital of Iowa
Population: 1,468

Melbourne, Iowa
Melbourne, Iowa
Welcome to the City of Melbourne – Established 1882
Population: 830

Welcome to Le Grand
Le Grand, Iowa (Partially in Tama County)
Welcome to Le Grand
Population: 938

Gilman, Iowa
Gilman, Iowa
Welcome to Gilman – Established 1876
Population: 509

Albion, Iowa
Albion, Iowa
Welcome to Albion – Established 1852
Population: 505

Rhodes, Iowa
Rhodes, Iowa
Welcome to Rhodes – Established 1883
Population: 305

Liscomb, Iowa
Liscomb, Iowa
Liscomb – Just a Little Street Where Old Friends Meet – Est. 1873
Population: 301

Laurel, Iowa
Laurel, Iowa
Laurel – A Place to Know. A Place to Grow
Population: 239

Haverhill, Iowa
Haverhill, Iowa
Welcome to Haverhill – A good place to visit… A great place to call home!
Population: 173

Clemons, Iowa
Clemons, Iowa
Welcome to Clemons – Size of a dime – Heart of a dollar
Population: 148

Green Mountain, Iowa
Green Mountain, Iowa (Census Designated Place)
Green Mountain
Population: 126

Ferguson, Iowa
Ferguson, Iowa
Ferguson
Population: 126

St. Anthony, Iowa
St. Anthony, Iowa
Welcome to St. Anthony – “Pinhook” Est. 1882 – Pride in Our Past. Faith in Our Future.
Population: 102

Marshall County is a very solid county for town signs. I don’t that they have any I necessarily hate. Towns like Ferguson really only had an old railroad depot sign hanging up to designate their town. A lot of towns had those old railroad depot signs hanging up. It was actually pretty impressive. That being said, since that is all Ferguson had and Green Mountain isn’t technically a town any longer, I’ll give Ferguson the worst town sign award. Although Le Grand really pushes for last place as well.

But who gets Best in Show. There are some strong contenders, I really like the signs in Laurel, Liscomb, and Rhodes. For a corporate looking sign, State Center’s sign is pretty okay. But Best in Show has to go to Haverhill:


Haverhill, Iowa
Haverhill – Best in Show Marshall County

Time for the BENNETT TOWN SIGN POWER RANKINGS.


Badger, Iowa
#10. Badger

Granger, Iowa
#9. Granger

Scranton, Iowa
#8. Scranton

Boone, Iowa
#7. Boone

Liscomb, Iowa
#6. Liscomb

Dexter, Iowa
#5. Dexter

Haverhill, Iowa
#4. Haverhill

Farnhamville, Iowa #3 - East Side
#3. Farnhamville

Pilot Mound, Iowa
#2. Pilot Mound

Moingona, Iowa
#1. Moingona

I’ve also decided to reconsider how I do Best in Show for each county. I’ve decide that a town is only eligible for Best in Show for a county if they are either mostly in that county or if they are evenly split among more than one county. Therefore, these are the altered BEST IN SHOW winners:


Moingona, Iowa
Best in Show – Boone County

Scranton, Iowa
Best in Show – Greene County

Collins, Iowa
Best in Show – Story County

Stanhope, Iowa
Best in Show – Hamilton County

Badger, Iowa
Best in Show – Webster County

Dexter, Iowa
Best in Show – Dallas County

Bondurant, Iowa
Best in Show – Polk County

Haverhill, Iowa
Best in Show – Marshall County

Next time we visit THE TOWN SIGN PROJECT, we will visit Carroll County.

TOWN SIGN PROJECT: POLK COUNTY

The November image of the 2021 Photography 139 Calendar is actually a combination of 3 panoramic images taken with Rodan139. Something that was rekindled in 2020 was a love for panoramic photos. However, it is hard to include such an image in a calendar, so I combined 3 of them to fill up a page. I don’t know if it works, but at least one person told me that this was their favorite month in the calendar. So, that is something at least.


2021 Calendar - November

The top image is of Horseshoe Bluff in Mines of Spain. The middle image is of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in northeast Boone County. The bottom image is of the Loess Hills, taken in Monona County.

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When I looked the map for the TOWN SIGN PROJECT and knew that getting the town signs in Polk County was going to be next, I wasn’t overly excited. My excursion to West Des Moines to complete Dallas County was less than enjoyable and I anticipated finding town signs in places like Windsor Heights and and Pleasant Hill was going to be equally horrible. And it was. Only, I actually found decent signs for Windsor Heights and actually like the sign for Pleasant Hill. Now it took some time with Google Maps Street View before I even left on the trip to find those signs. Strike that, before I left on my second trip. I ran out of time and couldn’t find signs for Altoona, Pleasant Hill, Des Moines, and Windsor Heights on my first trip. I had to research it at home before I made a second trip, that doubled as a calendar delivery trip for Baier, Russell, Dre, and Sara. I don’t like doing that much research ahead of time. I like being surprised by what I find, but there is no way around it in Suburbia. Besides, this really is more of a small town project.

I will concede, I never really found a Des Moines “sign”. So I’m throwing in a downtown Des Moines Mural. I’m not going to consider it for Best in Show for Polk County though. Even though it is a pretty sweet mural. Think there is a fair chance that this spring I’m going to spend sometime photographing the murals in downtown Des Moines, cause there are some pretty cool ones.

If you don’t know Polk County, here is a look at it on the TOWN SIGNS PROJECT PHOTO MAP:


Polk County
POLK COUNTY

Polk County is the 7th County I have completed:


7 Counties - Town Sign Project
PURPLE=COMPLETED

Here is a look at the town signs of Polk County. Population Data is from 2010, so it is probably not remotely correct for Polk County:


Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines, Iowa
Greater Des Moines – Better Together – Better Forever
Population: 203.433

West Des Moines, Iowa
West Des Moines, Iowa
The City of West Des Moines
Population: 56,609

Ankeny, Iowa
Ankeny, Iowa
Ankeny
Population: 45,582

Urbandale, Iowa
Urbandale, Iowa
Welcome to… Urbandale – Uniquely Urbandale

Johnston, Iowa
Johnston, Iowa
Johnston
Population: 17,278

Clive, Iowa
Clive, Iowa
Clive – District by Nature
Population: 15,447

Altoona, Iowa
Altoona, Iowa
Altoona
Population: 14,541

Norwalk, Iowa
Norwalk, Iowa
Norwalk Welcomes You
Population: 8,945

Pleasant Hill, Iowa
Pleasant Hill, Iowa
Welcome to Pleasant Hill
Population: 8,785

Grimes, Iowa
Grimes, Iowa
Grimes
Population: 8,246

Windsor Heights, Iowa
Windsor Heights, Iowa
Welcome to Windsor Heights – the heart of it all
Population: 4,860

Carlisle, Iowa
Carlisle, Iowa
Carlisle – The Natural Choice – Established 1851
Population: 3,876

Bondurant, Iowa
Bondurant, Iowa
Bondurant
Population: 3,860

Polk City, Iowa
Polk City, Iowa
Welcome to Polk City – A City for All Season
Population: 3,418

Mitchellville, Iowa
Mitchellville, Iowa
Welcome to Mitchellville
Population: 2,254

Granger, Iowa
Granger, Iowa
Welcome to Granger
Population: 1,244

Elkhart, Iowa
Elkhart, Iowa
Welcome to Elkhart – Est. 1902
Population: 683

Runnells, Iowa
Runnells, Iowa
Runnells Welcomes You
Population: 507

Alleman, Iowa
Alleman, Iowa
Welcome to Alleman
Population: 432

Sheldahl, Iowa
Sheldahl, Iowa
The People of Sheldahl Welcome You – Biggest Little Town in Three Counties
Population: 319

So what is Best in Show for Polk County. Normally the no-brainer would be Sheldahl or Granger. There are 21 town in Polk County or partially in Polk County. It is amazing that most of them are below average. My biggest disappointment is Mitchellville. There is a prison in Mitchellville! How does a town that has a prison not have a cool sign?

However, since Granger is really almost entirely in Dallas County, I’m going to put it aside. Sheldahl is fairly evenly split amongst Polk County, Story County, and Boone County. However, while I was driving home from Polk County, I made the most alarming discovery cruising through Sheldahl. They took down their town sign! It doesn’t exist any more. I’m going to assume that it was a victim of the derecho and the good people of Sheldahl will make amends for this and get it back up in the very near future.

Putting those aside, I’m going to give Best in Show to Bondurant:


Bondurant, Iowa
Best in Show – Polk County

I know it definitely isn’t my style of Best in Show, but while it has no art or a snappy town slogan, it is original and cool looking. I give the highest marks for originality and I have never seen a sign like it.

The worst signs in Polk County? Take your pick from Urbandale or West Des Moines or Norwalk. Although Grimes and Johnston are literally on the opposites sides of the same brick wall, so maybe they should share last place.

Time for the BENNETT TOWN SIGN POWER RANKINGS.


Collins, Iowa
#10. Collins

Sheldahl, Iowa
#9. Sheldahl

Badger, Iowa
#8. Badger

Granger, Iowa
#7. Granger

Scranton, Iowa
#6. Scranton

Boone, Iowa
#5. Boone

Dexter, Iowa
#4. Dexter

Farnhamville, Iowa #3 - East Side
#3. Farnhamville

Pilot Mound, Iowa
#2. Pilot Mound

Moingona, Iowa
#1. Moingona

Nothing has changed. However, I’m putting Sheldahl on notice. If the sign doesn’t return, I’m going to have to drop them from the power rankings. They’ll still make a book, but with several demerits.

The next time we visit THE TOWN SIGN PROJECT, we will visit Marshall County, the site of the deadliest train crash in Iowa history.

Town Sign Project: Dallas County

The April image for the 2021 Photography 139 Calendar is a butterfly perched on a zinnia in my Mom’s yard. It was taken on August 16, 2020.


2021 Calendar - April

Here are some details of the photo:

DETAILS

CAMERA: Sony ILCE-7M2
LENS: FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro
FOCAL LENGTH: 50mm
APERTURE: f/5
EXPOSURE: 1/80
ISO: 100
LATITUDE: 42.05623
LONGITUDE: -93.87505

+++++++

I recently added a photo map to my THE TOWN SIGNS PROJECT album. It looks like this:



This map shows the physical locations of where the town signs I have photographed. In the album, you can scroll in and out and click on the markers to see the pictures.

If you want to see it in the flesh, so to speak, click on the link below:

TOWN SIGN PROJECT

I also recently made a trip around Dallas County to get pictures of the few towns out there that I didn’t have a sign to represent. Unfortunately, most of my time was spent looking around suburbs looking for a sign of some kind. I tried to put as little effort into the suburbs as possible, because I view this as a small town project. That being said, it took a little time to even find anything. I know the signs I have here that represent Urbandale and Waukee are not the best they have to offer, but at the same time, do I lose any sleep about it? Nope, half a bottle of Nyquil takes care of that.

Here is the updated Iowa Conquest Map:


6 Counties - Town Sign Project
PURPLE=COMPLETED

Here are the town signs of Dallas County (population data from 2010, so probably extremely inaccurate for this county):


West Des Moines, Iowa
West Des Moines, Iowa
The City of West Des Moines
Population: 56,609

Urbandale, Iowa
Urbandale, Iowa
Welcome to… Uniquely Urbandale… Urbandale
Population: 39,463

Clive, Iowa
Clive, Iowa
District by Nature
Population: 15,447

Waukee, Iowa
Waukee, Iowa
The Key to Good Living
Population:13,790

Grimes, Iowa
Grimes, Iowa
Grimes
Population: 8,246

Perry, Iowa
Perry, Iowa
Make Yourself at Home!
Population 7,702

Adel, Iowa
Adel, Iowa
Growing with Pride – Home of United Brick & Tile
Population 3,682

Dallas Center, Iowa
Dallas Center, Iowa
Est. 1869
Population: 3,682

Granger, Iowa
Granger, Iowa
Welcome to Granger
Population: 1,244

De Soto, Iowa
De Soto, Iowa
Welcome to De Soto, Iowa
Population: 1,050

Woodward, Iowa
Woodward, Iowa
Welcome to Woodward
Population: 1,024

Van Meter, Iowa
Van Meter, Iowa
tradition with a vision
Population: 1,016

Redfield, Iowa
Redfield, Iowa
Redfield
Population: 835

Dexter, Iowa
Dexter, Iowa
The Original One Horse Town
Population: 611

Minburn, Iowa
Minburn, Iowa
A Small Town with a Big Heart
Population: 365

Linden, Iowa
Linden, Iowa
Pride of (Some Cat) Country
Population: 199

Dawson, Iowa
Dawson, Iowa
Welcome to Dawson
Population: 131

Bouton, Iowa
Bouton, Iowa
Est. 1881
Population: 129

So which town sign wins Best in Show, for Dallas County? I think this one is a no-brainer. It is Dexter:


Dexter, Iowa

Dexter, even has a couple of other great town signs as well:


Town Sign Project Alternate

Town Sign Project Alternate

Either one by themselves would be a strong contender for Best in Show for Dallas County. I’d also give surprisingly good marks to Redfield and Linden and Minburn. Minburn, mostly because of the weird bench that is behind their sign, but isn’t pictured. But runner-up in Dallas County is very clearly Granger for the use of the “hot” and “cold” water towers in their sign.

Which one is the worst? I’m going to put aside the suburbs for a moment, because I believe they probably have a better sign out there that I just didn’t care to spend hours in suburban hell looking for them. Maybe some day in the future. But the second worst is the blandness of Dallas Center, but the worst is Adel for putting an advertisement for a business on their town sign. I’m guessing that business probably built that sign, but still… gross.

So 6 counties in, I’m going to up the Bennett Power Rankings to a Top Ten.

Bennett Town Sign Power Rankings


Collins, Iowa
#10. Collins

Sheldahl, Iowa
#9. Sheldahl

Badger, Iowa
#8. Badger

Granger, Iowa
#7. Granger

Scranton, Iowa
#6. Scranton

Boone, Iowa
#5. Boone

Dexter, Iowa
#4. Dexter

Farnhamville, Iowa #3 - East Side
#3. Farnhamville

Pilot Mound, Iowa
#2. Pilot Mound

Moingona, Iowa
#1. Moingona

These are how I feel at this time, but it is possible that 5 minutes from now, I would rank these completely differently.

The good news is that I have a couple of volunteers for certain counties. So in the future, these road trips won’t be solo. I mean many of them will, but not all of them. Polk County should be next, but I really need a pep talk to head back in to suburbia.

Town Sign Project: Webster County

I’m not going to go hard on history with Webster County. When I covered Hamilton County, I covered how notoriously awful the people of Webster County are. How they killed the poor town of Homer, Iowa in a vicious power grab and created two counties.

Webster County is the 5th county that I have completed in the project:


5 Counties - Town Signs Project
PURPLE=COMPLETED

Now I just need to complete Dallas County and Polk County to finish off the counties that surround Boone County. I’m not looking forward to Polk County, cause it is mostly suburbs. Suburbs aren’t real towns. They are where rich people that like to pretend they live in a city move because they don’t want to be around poor people. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Here are the town signs of Webster County (Population from 2010 Census):


Fort Dodge, Iowa
Fort Dodge – 25,206

Gowrie, Iowa
Gowrie – 1,037

Dayton, Iowa
Dayton – 837

Stratford, Iowa
Stratford – 743

Badger, Iowa
Badger – 561

Otho, Iowa
Otho – 542

Lehigh, Iowa
Lehigh – 416

Duncombe, Iowa
Duncombe – 410

Callender, Iowa
Callender – 376

Farnhamville, Iowa #3 - East Side
Farnhamville – 371

Harcourt, Iowa
Harcourt – 303

Barnum, Iowa
Barnum – 191

Vincent, Iowa
Vincent – 174

Clare, Iowa
Clare – 146

The only town in Webster County that didn’t have a sign was Moorland. It only had one of those green and white DOT signs and I’m no longer documenting those. Moorland has a 2010 population of 169. There are two unincorporated towns in Webster County. Burnside and Lanyon. I did not check out either of those. Although I have been to Burnside before and when I was there, they only had the lame green and white DOT sign.

But what sign was my favorite sign from Webster County. Last week Shannon told me she likes to guess what my favorite sign is. I don’t think she’ll have a hard time guessing this week. So I’ll start with who has the worst sign. The worst signs are Barnum and Vincent.

I’ll give a shoutout to Badger. I had high hopes for them and they did deliver. Beaver, take note, this is what your sign should look like. I also really like the signs in Gowrie and Otho. It is a county of solid signs.

I’ll also give props to the people of Duncombe for putting their sign on top of an old garage door. At least I’m pretty sure that is what going on there. I almost missed their town sign and went with a pretty sweet mural they have in their town:


Duncombe, Iowa - Town Sign Alternate

I would love to know what the squiggly line going across the state of Iowa is supposed to represent. My first theory is the historic route of Highway 20. Another theory is the rout of the railroad tracks that go through town. My last theory is that it is a RAGBRAI route that once went through Duncombe.

But the obvious winner is clearly Farhamville. But they don’t have just one great sign. They have 3.

Here is the sign I picked to represent Farhamville:


Farnhamville, Iowa #3 - East Side

This is the other side of that sign:


Farnhamville, Iowa #3 - West Side

But the first sign I saw when I came into the town from the north was this one:


Farnhamville, Iowa #1

Now, I was very curious about what the heck was in that circle on the state of Iowa, so I took a close-up image:


Farnhamville Town Sign Close-Up

Now that I’ve seen it, it answers no questions and creates even more questions. It almost looks like a cult symbol to me. But maybe I just have cults on the mind after just watching the NXIVM cult documentary on Starz recently.

Then as I was leaving Farhamville, heading towards Jefferson for cheese curds, I came across this stone town sign.


Farnhamville, Iowa #2

I’m sure you’ve picked up that I don’t like stone or granite town signs. However, this one is quite the exception. If you are going to do a town sign, this is how it is done friends.

Farmhamville is mostly in Calhoun County. Only a small sliver of it is in Webster County. So maybe it isn’t fair for it to be Best in Show for Webster County cause I’m not sure how some town in Calhoun County beats this one. But hopefully some town comes strong from Calhoun County. I guess we’ll see when I get there.

But maybe Farhamville is my Ohio State. I have one set of rules for them and an entirely different set of rules for the University of Indiana.

Here is my current Town Sign Top 5:

Christopher D. Bennett Iowa Sign Power Rankings



Scranton, Iowa
#5. Scranton, Iowa

Boone, Iowa
#4. Boone, Iowa

Farnhamville, Iowa #3 - East Side
#3 Farhamville, Iowa

Pilot Mound, Iowa
#2. Pilot Mound, Iowa

Moingona, Iowa
#1. Moingona, Iowa

These are the Top 5 as I see them at this second. But that could change any moment. It is a very fluid situation.

I believe that Dallas County will be next, but I also have my sites on Polk County, Wright County, Carroll County, Marshall County, and Crawford County in the coming months. Weather and life permitting.

Town Sign Project: Hamilton County

A couple weeks back I made a trip around Hamilton County to grab a few town signs I was missing in the county. There were a few interesting discoveries.

Hamilton is the 4th county that I’ve knocked off.


4 Counties - Town Signs Project
Purple = Completed

Hopefully when we get through the pandemic, I can open these little trips to other people. Particularly when I come to visit your county.

Also, any tips on some small town treasures could move a county up in the pecking order. In fact, on Saturday I got a good tip on Woolstock, Iowa that moved Wright County up in the pecking order. Maybe passing Marshall and Carroll counties.

It is kind of a well documented fact that people from Webster County are a little bit untrustworthy. There is a reason I can refer to a town as “The Dirty” and everybody instantly knows I’m talking about Fort Dodge. A town known for having a liquor store in its slums that will sell alcohol to 4 year-olds.

I bring this up because there really shouldn’t be a Hamilton County. There should just be one big Webster County, with a County Seat in Homer. Haven’t heard of Homer, Iowa? Yeah, that is because it doesn’t really exist any longer. Why? Because people from Fort Dodge aren’t trustworthy. In fact, at a time when Homer was bigger than Fort Dodge and Webster City (then called Newcastle) combined the thugs from Fort Dodge stole an election from Homer. Legitimately stole an election. Homer didn’t get their butt kicked by Joe Biden and then sat in their office whining about it and spreading disinformation via social media while trying to undermine our democracy. The election was legitimately stolen from them.

Here is the tale from the Hamilton County History website:

Prepared by Martin E. Nass

Granville Burkley was successful in carrying his petition to the legislature in 1851 and they created the new county, Webster County, by taking all of Yell, all of Risley, and the lower half of Humboldt (then called Bancroft) Counties. The new county was assigned to Boone County for administration. Two commissioners, Elisha Anderson and Samuel McCall came to meet with Burkley to locate a county seat. Burkley persuaded them to select his site for the town and to name it Homer, for the epic Greek poet. They selected Secion 6-87-26. The new county obtained title to the land on October 14, 1854. Judge Pierce entered a warrant for $114.00 for the town plat.

Burkley built himself a cabin, then got himself appointed as postmaster. He kept the mail under his bed in a tin box. He constructed the first school in Homer, and then promptly padlocked it until the residents would pay him what he wanted. R. W. Alcon was first school teacher at this school. Burkley then arranged for the new state road, which came from Des Moines through Boonesboro (Montana) in Boone County, then through Mineral Ridge, entering our county and passing through Hook’s Point. The road then went to Homer before turning west through Border Plains, Brushy, and on to Fort Dodge.

Homer grew and prospered until it reached a population of about 600. Fort Dodge had about 200 and Newcastle about 100. It seemed that Homer’s future was secure.

Two men came upon the scene to change things. John F. Duncombe of Fort Dodge got together with Walter C. Willson of Newcastle and plans were made to “get” the county seat. They arranged for an election to be held to divide the huge county into two again, each to have a county seat. Since the population of Homer exceeded the combined population of Fort Dodge and Newcastle, Homer felt secure. Willson had arranged earlier to have the Western Stage Company run its line from Dubuque to Alden, Newcastle, and Fort Dodge. Fort Dodge had secured the federal land office in 1855. To ensure a legal election, Burkley stayed in Newcastle to supervise the balloting. He loved to argue politics and he loved to drink. The Newcastle people kept him busy with both, and he did not detect that stage passengers were alighting to vote and then get on the stage for a run to Fort Dodge and vote again. The results went against Homer. They complained and carried their case to the Iowa Supreme Court who ruled that there was evidence widespead cheating on both sides so the election results were upheld.

Duncombe helped Willson get elected to the state legislature to carry the petition for the split of the county. He rode a mule to Marengo and then took the stagecoach to Iowa City, the state’s capital. He planned to arrange for the west half to retain the name Webster and designate Fort Dodge as the county seat. He also had planned for the east half to take the name Sharon and have as the county seat, Newcastle, which was to be renamed Webster City. When he arrived at the state house he quickly realized that he needed some help to get his bill passed. William W. Hamilton, of Cascade, Iowa, was president of the senate. Willson changed the act to give the name Hamilton County to the east half to honor and recognize Hamilton’s help. This act was passed on December 22, 1856 to take effect on Jan 1, 1857.

Thus the name of Webster County was replaced by Hamilton County. Due to a mistake in the numbering of sections in the act, not all of Bancroft County was passed back to Humboldt County. The bottom tier of townships were left in Webster County, which accounts for the fact that the two county north lines do not align. Another act of the legislature required that any further adjusting of county lines would require a majority vote of citizens on both sides of the line. Hence, Webster County never gave back their townships, and never will.

The people of Webster County are so terrible they even stole land from Bancroft County. Never heard of Bancroft County? Yeah, cause it doesn’t exist any more either. That isn’t all the fault of the terrible people of Webster County. The terrible people of Kossuth County also had a hand in that. But we’ll get to that at a later date, I’m sure.

Here is a collection of the town signs of Hamilton County. (Population numbers are from 2010 census.)


Webster City, Iowa
Webster City – 8,070

Jewell, Iowa
Jewell – 1,215

Stratford, Iowa
Stratford – 743

Ellsworth, Iowa
Ellsworth – 531

Stanhope, Iowa
Stanhope – 422

Williams, Iowa
Williams – 344

Blairsburg, Iowa
Blairsburg – 215

Kamrar, Iowa
Kamrar – 199

Randall, Iowa
Randall – 173

Homer, Iowa
Homer – Ghost Town

Christytown, Iowa
Christy Town – Ghost Town, but yeah sure 46

If you are wondering about the history of Christy Town, I thought it might be the site of a religious cult, because there is a Lutheran Camp there (apologies to Lutherans) and the word “Christ” in the name, but turns out just a woman named Christy lived there. Not even for that long. Yeah, boring!

In Hamilton County, I would rank Stanhope as having the best sign and give Jewell the second best. Blairsburg and Ellsworth have the worst.

There were a couple towns that could have really upped their town sign game. For example, Stratford is named after the town that Shakespeare was from. Almost all the streets are named after famous English authors, like Milton Street, Shakespeare Avenue, Tennyson Avenue, and Dryden Street.

There is a lot to play with there. For example, this sign advertising their business district is way better than the town sign that greets you when you enter the town on 175:


Stratford Town Sign Auxiliary

Randall’s sign isn’t bad. As far as nice signs go, it is nice. But they have this sign in their park that is better:


Randall Town Sign Auxiliary

Although, as far as I know, Randall has no peach history. No burgeoning peach industry. Maybe there used to be a peach tree where that sign stands. Randall is pretty far north to grow peaches. Even Reliance or Polly peaches.

If you can’t tell what I like in a sign. It is the following. I like something with artwork on it. It should have a good town slogan. Preferably something that relates to the name of the town. I also like signs that look like they weren’t put together by a professional. I also like signs that reference an athletic accomplishment of a local high school from a long time ago or reference to a (minor) celebrity that was born in that town. I also like signs that are somewhat weathered. Brick signs that just say a town name are the worst. The absolute worst.

Although there are a couple signs in Hamilton County that I like. My Top 5 remains unchanged. After the next county, I might open this up to Top 10.

Christopher D. Bennett Iowa Sign Power Rankings



Scranton, Iowa
#5. Scranton, Iowa

Collins, Iowa
#4. Collins, Iowa

Boone, Iowa
#3. Boone, Iowa

Pilot Mound, Iowa
#2. Pilot Mound, Iowa

Moingona, Iowa
#1. Moingona, Iowa

Now, that is how I feel today. I’m sure if asked tomorrow, I would rank a different Top 5. But I think the Top 3 is pretty solid.

The next county I’m going to knock off is Webster County. Visiting The Dirty! No Taco Tico though!

Town Sign Project: Greene County & Story County

I stated in a blog post on Sunday (that has some interesting information in the comments section – Click on this link: Town Sign Project: Boone County) that I’m going to start breaking these signs down by county. When I looked into it, I had already taken a picture of every incorporated town in Greene County. I was only missing two signs from Story County.

While I was snooping around Story County looking at the Unincorporated Communities of Fernald and Shipley, I made another decision to not seek out unincorporated communities in future searches. Not because I have a disdain for Unincorporated communities, but because basically they don’t have signs. If they do, it is only the DOT sign that points out that a community exists here. Moingona has really been the only exception here. So, unless I just happen to stumble across an unincorporated community or get a tip, they are out.

Here are the the town signs of Greene County (Population is based on 2010 Census):


Jefferson, Iowa
Jefferson, Iowa – 4,435

Grand Junction, Iowa
Grand Junction, Iowa – 824

Scranton, Iowa
Scranton, Iowa – 557

Churdan, Iowa
Churdan, Iowa – 386

Rippey, Iowa
Rippey, Iowa – 292

Paton, Iowa
Paton, Iowa – 236

Ralston, Iowa
Ralston, Iowa – 79

Dana, Iowa
Dana, Iowa – 71

I would give Scranton the award for the best town sign in Greene County. Ralston would probably be last.

Here are the town signs from Story County.


Ames, Iowa
Ames, Iowa – 58,965

Nevada, Iowa
Nevada, Iowa – 6,798

Story City, Iowa
Story City, Iowa – 3,431

Huxley, Iowa
Huxley, Iowa – 3,317

Slater, Iowa
Slater, Iowa – 1,489

Roland, Iowa
Roland, Iowa – 1,284

Gilbert, Iowa
Gilbert, Iowa – 1,082

Maxwell, Iowa
Maxwell, Iowa – 920

Colo, Iowa
Colo, Iowa – 876

Cambridge, Iowa
Cambridge, Iowa – 827

Zearing, Iowa
Zearing, Iowa – 554

Collins, Iowa
Collins, Iowa – 495

McCallsburg, Iowa
McCallsburg, Iowa – 333

Sheldahl, Iowa
Sheldahl, Iowa – 319

Kelly, Iowa
Kelley, Iowa – 309

I would say that Collins has the best town sign in Story County. Sheldahl is is also solid. The worst is either Ames or Zearing.

Pastor Sarah once asked me what my favorite sign is so far. Of the three counties we’ve been over, these would be my Top 5:


Scranton, Iowa
#5. Scranton, Iowa

Collins, Iowa
#4. Collins, Iowa

Boone, Iowa
#3. Boone, Iowa

Pilot Mound, Iowa
#2. Pilot Mound, Iowa

Moingona, Iowa
#1. Moingona, Iowa

Now, that is how I feel today. I’m sure if asked tomorrow, I would rank a different Top5. But I think the Top 3 is pretty solid.

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This is your reminder that this week’s THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme is RUINS:


WEEK 272 - RUINS
RUINS

A RUINS picture is any picture of something that has seen better days.

Happy photo harvesting!

Town Sign Project: Boone County

I should start the day by wishing Suzie a happy birthday. Happy birthday Suzie!


Des Moines Art Center

Day 2 - Things Start to Look Different

Pufferbilly Days - 2019

I hope your birthday was as amazing as you wanted it to be!

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I made a recent decision to start breaking down town in the TOWN SIGN PROJECT by county. I’ve used the Wikipedia and a Iowa Gazetteer to start this process. Well, it seemed rather obvious that the first county I should cross off the list is the county is the county I live in.

Here are the town signs from Boone County.


Boone, Iowa
Boone, Iowa – 12,661

Madrid, Iowa
Madrid, Iowa – 2,543

Ogden, Iowa
Ogden, Iowa – 2,044

Sheldahl, Iowa
Sheldahl, Iowa – 319

Boxholm, Iowa
Boxholm, Iowa – 195

Pilot Mound, Iowa
Pilot Mound, Iowa – 173

Luther, Iowa
Luther, Iowa – 122

Fraser, Iowa
Fraser, Iowa – 102

Beaver, Iowa
Beaver, Iowa – 48

Berkley, Iowa
Berkley, Iowa – 32

Mackey, Iowa
Mackey, Iowa – Unincorporated

Moingona, Iowa
Moingona, Iowa – Unincorporated

Centerville, Iowa (Boone County)
Centerville, Iowa – Unincorporated

Napier, Iowa
Napier, Iowa – Unincorporated

Ridgeport, Iowa
Ridegeport, Iowa – Unincorporated

Boone County has a couple of unincorporated towns that have no sign to mark their existence. These are Jordan and Logansport. Some people claim that Zenorsville is an unincorporated community, but I would consider it a ghost town. Same way I would consider Coal Valley a ghost town. Elk Rapids a ghost town. However, there are still people living in Jordan and Logansport.

The next county I plan on doing is either Story County or Greene County. Cause, proximity.

Maybe I’m a Man and Maybe I’m a Lonely Man

I need to start today by wishing Shawn a happy birthday. Happy birthday Shawn!


The Juncks - 2016

Loser - Happy

Lockner Wedding Candid

Junck Family Portrait - 2016

I hope your birthday is as wonderful as you want it to be!

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I do love pictures of SIGNS. My sister-in-law Laura once told me that this makes me a hipster. She is wrong about that, but even if it did make me a hipster, I’d still love pictures of signs. Battered. Beat up. Barely hanging on. My kind of SIGNS. With that in mind, here are the alternate pictures for last week’s THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme SIGNS:


WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

WPC - WEEK 264 - SIGNS ALTERNATE

I also took a couple pictures of unincorporated towns in Boone County:


Centerville, Iowa (Boone County)
Centerville, Iowa
Unincorporated

Ridgeport, Iowa
Ridgeport, Iowa
Unincorporated

Here is an interesting fact about Ridgeport. It was originally called Mineral Ridge. It took that name from the ridge that the town sits on. It was giving that name because the surveyors that were exploring the area, their compass wasn’t working correctly. The figured that this was because the ridge was filled with minerals. Turns out that they just had a broken compass. At least this is what I read in the latest issue of “Trail Tales”.

I wish more of these unincorporated communities had signs like Centerville. I looked for one in Logansport and didn’t find one. Also looked for some kind of marker where Zenorsville was once located, but found nothing. However, of all the unincorporated communities in Boone County, the lack of any kind of marker for Jordan makes me the saddest. Not just because of my family connection (I also have a family connection to Centerville) to Jordan, but because of its historical significance because of the Jordan tornado. C’est la vie!

+++++++

This is your reminder that this week’s theme for THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is SELF-PORTRAIT:


WEEL 265 - SELF-PORTRAIT
SELF-PORTRAIT

A SELF-PORTRAIT is simply a picture where the photographer and the subject are the same person. Obviously, there are some creative ways to get around that, if you don’t like take pictures of yourself. Even if that doesn’t make sense to anybody else.

Happy photo harvesting!

Town Sign Project – Vol. 11

One of my goals for my vacation was to get 20 new town sign pictures for THE TOWN SIGN PROJECT. I thought I would hit this easy, because I had two road trips planned to completely opposite sides of the state. However, on my trip to Mines of Spain, I took zero town sign pictures. I cut that trip shorter than originally intended because of Naima’s leg injury. However, I did get one town sign picture on a small trip on the Tuesday of my vacation. 19 town sign pictures on my trip out west. Then one more for good measure on the Friday of my vacation.

I’m going to start this post though with 4 pictures I took on a trip down to the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge back in early August.


Colfax, Iowa
Colfax, Iowa – Jasper County
Population – 2,093

Mingo, Iowa
Mingo, Iowa – Jasper County
Population – 302

Prairie City, Iowa
Prairie City, Iowa – Jasper County
Population – 1,680

Rhodes, Iowa
Rhodes, Iowa – Marshall County
Population – 305

My takeaway from these town signs is that on Rhodes has an interesting sign. In some ways, a rather disappointing collection. Another thing of note. Rhodes has a tank in their downtown. One thing I’ve noticed in recent years is how many small Iowa towns have retired military equipment just sitting in the middle of their town.

On Tuesday I took a trip down to Jester Park and to Walnut Woods. I captured one town sign on this trip:


Booneville, Iowa
Booneville, Iowa – Dallas County
Unincorporated

Booneville is an unincorporated town in Dallas County. It consists of a restaurant, a post office, a Methodist church, and a small RV park.

Then, on my trip to Preparation Canyon State Park, I took 19 town sign pictures. A ton of them in rain, so many of the signs are wet, but not in a flattering way.


Arcadia, Iowa
Arcadia, Iowa – Carroll County
Population 484

Arion, Iowa
Arion, Iowa – Crawford County
Population – 108

Boyer, Iowa
Boyer, Iowa – Crawford County
Unincorporated

Carroll, Iowa
Carroll, Iowa – Carroll County – County Seat
Population – 10,103

Carrollton, Iowa
Carrolton, Iowa – Carroll County
Ghost Town

Charter Oak, Iowa
Charter Oak, Iowa – Crawford County
Population – 502

Denison, Iowa
Denison, Iowa – Crawford County – County Seat
Population – 8,298

Dow City, Iowa
Dow City, Iowa – Crawford County
Population – 510

Dunlap, Iowa
Dunlap, Iowa – Crawford County
Population – 1,042

Kiron, Iowa
Kiron, Iowa – Crawford County
Population – 279

Lidderdale, Iowa
Lidderdale, Iowa – Carroll County
Population – 180

Moorhead, Iowa
Moorhead, Iowa – Monona County
Population – 226

Mt. Carmel, Iowa
Mt. Carmel, Iowa – Carroll County
Unincorporated, maybe?

Ricketts, Iowa
Ricketts, Iowa – Crawford County
Population – 145

Schlewswig, Iowa
Schleswig, Iowa – Crawford County
Population – 882

Soldier, Iowa
Soldier, Iowa – Monona, County
Population – 174

Vail, Iowa
Vail, Iowa – Crawford County
Population – 436

Westside, Iowa
Westside, Iowa – Crawford County
Population – 299

Willey, Iowa
Willey, Iowa – Carroll County
Population – 88

This is not a disappointing collection of signs. I’m in particular a big fan of the Ricketts sign. It has many of the elements I love. It exists. It is fun. It has a slogan. It includes advertising for a town event that happened decades ago.

Then finally, one last sign. I stumbled across this on the Friday of my vacation. It is a town I have been to plenty of times as it is only a few miles from Boone. However, they never had a town sign. Until apparently very recently.


Fraser, Iowa
Fraser, Iowa – Boone County
Population – 102

All population figures come from the 2010 census.

On this trip, I realized that I need a slightly new strategy for tackling this project. I ordered an Iowa Gazetteer. I’m going to keep in the car and compile lists of towns in counties before I even leave for these trips. I hope to do an entire county on a trip. Without leaving random towns missed here and there. Right now, I don’t have any counties completely knocked off. Not even Boone County. I don’t even have the Boone sign for this trip. Ames, is another one, you would think is a no-brainer. But I don’t have that one either. You can see, I have plenty of sign hunting to do in just my own back yard.

You can check out all the signs that I have captured so far, you can click on the link below:

Town Sign Project

There are 121 pictures so far, but I bet I can get that number close to 200 by the end of the year.