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Potluck: Byway to Iowa History

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk

Iowa's Glacial Trail Scenic Byway

Jim Hass began collecting when he was 7 years old and his uncle gave him some seashells. By the time he was 12, he had, with his mother’s encouragement, set up his first museum in an old smokehouse.

Hass’s collection grew to include 3,000–4,000 arrowheads and other Native American artifacts, 200 antique guns (including muskets dating from before the Revolutionary War), Civil War memorabilia, and much more — so many items they more than fill the three stories of what has become Jim’s History Barn.

“I love American history,” Hass says. Now 70 years old, Hass spends every day in the barn — cleaning, building showcases, writing down the history of and cataloging every artifact in his collection, most of which were found in Iowa. Every item has a story, and Hass enjoys sharing those stories with visitors. “It’s a labor of love,” says the man who always wanted to be a museum director.

Located in Peterson, Jim’s History Barn is just one of the “can’t miss” stops along the Glacial Trail Scenic Byway, a 36-mile loop that includes stretches in O’Brien, Clay, Cherokee, and Buena Vista Counties. Travelers along the Glacial Trail can enjoy natural history in rolling hills and forested valleys, recreation on a 131-mile-long canoe trail, ancient history in the form of remnants of a 1,000-year-old prehistoric village, current history, quaint towns, and contemporary stained-glass art. — C.B.

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Photo © Bruce Morrison, 2011


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