On the Road with Tom and Gloria travel blog






Dubuque and the Mississippi River

Fenelon Place Elevator



Peeked into a garden on the hill ( the door was open)

Today I drove from one end of Iowa - Sioux City- to the other end - Dubuque - on I20. What did I see? Beautiful, beautiful lush green farmland. Corn, soybeans, and something I didn't recognize. Healthy plants in gorgeous rolling fields - acres and acres - mile after mile. I never tired of the view.

I made it to Waterloo in time for the one o'clock tour of the John Deere tractor assembly plant. No pictures allowed and I had to quick change from sandals to closed toe shoes. I took a seat on a tram , along with 39 other people, and got driven around the entire place by a plant retiree. A very knowledgeable fellow - too knowledgeable- most of the technical info went over the heads of most of us on the tour. Even the guys seemed to be saying TMI. It was great to just look around, however, - especially at the "welding robots" and the "painting robots". Incredible stuff ! The place was spotless and the people were very friendly. A good tour.

I had to pass Dyersville on my way to Dubuque so I stopped to see The Field of Dreams. What a great place. The movie was based on the book Shoeless Joe written by W.P. Kinsella, a University of Iowa Writer's Workshop grad. The Iowa film board convinced the producers to make the film on the Lansing farm. The field was built in three days and filming lasted 14 weeks during the summer of 1988 when Iowa experienced a major drought. Even after all these years people come with their kids to play ball. There is no charge to visit but most everyone buys something from the souvenir stand. The farm has been on the market for 5.3 million dollars but so far no takers. A fellow asked me to take his picture walking into the cornfield and in turn he took mine. Fun!

Parts of Dubuque are extremely hilly - reminded me of San Francisco. On the top of one large hill there is a 296 foot long incline railway called the Fenelon Place Elevator. It was built in 1882 by J.K. Graves . At that time everyone took a one and a half hour lunch break in Dubuque. It took Mr. Graves a half an hour by horse and buggy to go around the bluff to get to his house and then another half hour down. He liked to eat his dinner and then take a nap but it wasn't possible because of the long buggy ride. He asked the city for permission to build an incline railway ( he had seem them in Europe) . As they say, the rest is history. The best view of Dubuque and the Mississippi River is from the boarding platform at the top of the hill. I didn't see the movie F.I.S.T. but a scene was filmed at the elevator. The cost is $1 each way - amazingly, it's been that price for the last ten years.

Tomorrow - Chicago .

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