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Little Known Places in Iowa

Historical places that either no longer exist or exist only as a name.

My father was raised in a small town called Gravity, Iowa. Gravity is located about five miles from New Market, where the children of the people who live in Gravity go to school. Though still classified as a town (it stll has a postoffice), there is little left of the town. the main street has few buildings left, the gas station is no longer in operation and hasn’t been for several years, and the population has been in a steady decline since I was a child. My father’s childhood home, built by his father, had been standing for years on the same corner for years when I was a child and teen, but I believe it has recently been torn down.

To the west, past Clarinda, stands the small community or Norwich. Another town lost to the passing of time. It is hard to believe that, at one time, this small enclave of homes had been a thriving community in the past. with fewer than twenty houses, one wonders how it has survived this long. what is the story behind this small town? I don’t really know.

Imogene, Randolph, Anderson, Percival, Thurman, and McPaul all sit in south-west Iowa. All are tiny communities and are slowly vanishing. Yet, they are on the map. McPaul only has four houses and an old grain elevator. The only business it had going for it was a towing service. Thurman is a little larger, but it is also slowly shrinking.

Randolph has it’s bank, but not much more. Anderson has absolutely nothing. Imogene has a newspaper, a bar, and a well known festival. Percival has it’s ag service and a bar.

As you travel Interstate 29, you see signs for towns like Pacific Junction and Bartlett. Both are towns are mere spots in the road which are known only for their bars and music scenes. Strangely, neither town is all that big. In fact, if you blink, you’ll miss them. How’s that for irony?

Then There’s Gust. It’s just a crossroads, really, but it’s the most famous crossroads in sowthwest Iowa. There’s even a song about it. Yet, from what I’ve been told, there used to be a town there.

Time to move on to Allenton. At least, I believe that was the name I was given for a town that ceased to exist just to the west of the town where I reside, Sidney. Last known remnants of this ill-fated town was torn down years   before I was born…a grain silo. But Iowa is dotted by the remnats of what it’s past held. The towns, the regions, the lost heritage.

With some of the towns covered, its time to move on to the regions. One of my sources for these died a year or two ago, so my memory of his tales may be a tad hazy. where to start?

Let’s start with an area known as Green Hollow. This interesting area lies just north of the town of Thurman. Now, it is a state park, but for many, it was home when they were children. There are many tales originating from this little area, but those are stories for another time. To the east of Green Hollow is Dutch Hollow. I can’t remember the story behind this little known region, but I became well acquainted with the name when my late friend Maxen Bachler told stories of his childhood. to the north and east of these two hollows lies Pinky’s Glen.

Pinky’s Glen is a small park just outside the town of Tabor. Like the two hollows, there are many stories connected to this small park. But those, too, are for another time. Just to the south and west of Green Hollow is the old quarry. There are some stories, rumors mostly,  about this site as well.


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