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April 30 - May 2, 2010

Prairie Flowers, Discovery Park Learning Center
Muscatine, Iowa

Friday, April 30, 2010, Dave Dinham (IAGenWeb's Clarke County Coordinator) and I met at Lakeside Casino in Osceola, and headed off east to the Mississippi River for IAGenWeb's 2010 Project Coordinator Conference at Muscatine. It was a rainy drive but we arrived safe and sound at the Discovery Park Learning Center.

The Discovery Park Learning Center at one time was Muscatine's County Farm site. The big white dairy barn still exists on the site and has been restored. Off to the side of the Discovery Park Learning Center is the county farm's Potter's Field which if which 86 numeric, cast iron markers were found later and transcribed by Eleanor B. McCleary. To learn more about the Muscatine County Home cemetery, click here.

West of the Discovery Park Learning Center is a lovely little pond. Evidently there's fish in there as several fishermen visited the spot off and on during the weekend.

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Discovery Park Pond

Discovery Park Pond


After our Saturday session, Bob McClarey took Beth Tingle and me on a wonderful tour of Muscatine. Having grown up in Muscatine and being a Muscatine native, Bob told us the history behind many of these sites in Muscatine and told us of places that are now nothing but memories.

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Discovery Park Pond

Old Bridge Footings

back, New Bridge

Muscatine Hotel

Weed Park

Plaque for Mound Burials

Indian Mound Burial

Weed Park, Muscatine

Indian Mound Burials

Weed Park, Muscatine

Plaque reads:
Erected A.D. 1946
To mark for education and Posterity
this circular formation of mounds construted in pre-historic times
by the mound building peoples then inhabiting this region.
By The Kiwanis Club

'Unofficial' notation on plaque:
This is the happy rock.

Toad Hall

Toad Hall House

side porch

Toad Hall

Bellevue Hospital

Bellevue Hospital

back side

Muscatine home

Weed Park

Mississippi River

from Lookout Point

West Muscatine Skyline

Courthouse at right

Memorial Park

memorial plaque

Memorial Park

memorial plaque

Memorial Cemetery


Bob said that the angel's finger pointing heavenward had been broken off several times and re-cemented. You can see the 'fracture' lines.

The conference was wonderful and full of information for your IAGenWeb county coordinators so we can go back home and be of better service to you, the people who visit our counties in search of historical and genealogical information.

Sheil Chaudoin, photo archivist for Muscatine Musser Public Library, presented an awe-inspiring slide presentation of Oscar Grossheim's glass-plate photography. Oscar opened his photography studio in Muscatine in 1898 and captured life along the Mississippi in the early 1900's. Oscar invented a camera for his work which inspired George Eastmen to return to New York and develop Kodak's first portable camera, making it easier for a photographer to take his work out of the studio. Oscar also took photographs of forensic value and of insurance value, capturing images of train wrecks and the aftermath of a tornado. He also captured images of Muscatine's button industry with several photographs of those who worked in the button factories. He photographed many a Muscatine window display with the price tags and labels of merchandise clearly visible.

To learn more about Oscar Grossheim click here.

To learn more about the Grossheim photograph collection at the Musser Library click here.

To learn more about Muscatine and Muscatine County and to visit Muscatine's IAGenWeb site click here.

Of particular interest to us was the wonderful, lucious, glorious, wished-I-could-eat-more spreads provided by Debbie Gerischer of the Iowa History Project and Scott County's IAGenWeb coordinator. We were treated to smoked salmon, chocolate torte, salads, gourmet cinnamon rolls a lovely pinneapple boat with grapes, pork chops, chicken, quail egg treats, and other mouth-watering creations from Debbie's kitchen. (Wish she'd adopt me!!)

Greta Thompson and I were lucky to be Debbie's overnight guests. So we had our own sleep-over slumber party at the end of each day. We were fortunate to meet Debbie's grandson Dylan and her son Devan. Debbie's year-old puppy Bama and I became "buds." Bama not only showed and shared her toys with me, she was a most excellent playmate. And, on the second night, Bama slept part of the night with me.

Greta brought "IT" along with her and we all got to meet "IT." "IT" was in good spirits with it's sweet smile and, as is it's character, "IT" took the blame for anything that didn't go according to plan. (Everyone needs an "IT" - don't they?)

Mississippi River looking into Illinois

From 'Look-Out' Point, Muscatine, Iowa
looking east into Illinois

Dave and I left Muscatine mid-morning Sunday. What a glorious ride across 1/2 of Iowa. The sun was out and all of the trees were in their spring glory, full of the lush green of spring.

If you are traveling along Highway 34, be sure to pull off the highway and take a drive around Columbus Junction in Louisa County. There are many historic buildings there, including Columbus Community Heritage Center, a national historic site that houses artifacts of NW Louisa County.

We stopped at Ellis Greenhouse located west of Lucas just off Highway 34, Lucas County. I admired the flower beds there and thought I'd share a photograph of them. From Lucas, it wasn't long before I was home and Dave headed on south to his home.

Flower Bed, Ellis Greenhouse

Photographs & submission by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2010

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