Tag Archives: Marion County

United Methodist Church (Hamilton, Iowa)

United Methodist Church (Hamilton, Iowa)

The United Methodist Church in the Marion County town of Hamilton was founded as a Methodist Episcopal Church in 1868. Services at the church ceased in the mid-1960s, but a faithful few continued to meet in the building for Sunday School, monthly hymn sings, and maintain the aging building. The commitment did not go unnoticed; in 1987, the church reopened with a full-fledged congregation in 1987 following a phone survey by the Iowa United Methodist Church conference.

The church continues to operate, with 23 members and an average Sunday attendance of 12. The Sunday School group meets at 9 a.m. with services following an hour later. The church continues to operate in the original building, constructed nearly 150 years ago. It remains a simple one-room structure today with recent improvements including the addition of an indoor restroom and central air conditioning.

Feature: Checkerboard Restaurant (Pleasantville, Iowa)

Checkerboard Restaurant (Pleasantville, Iowa)

Onion rings, pizza, and the town’s only stoplight are highlights of the character-filled Checkerboard Restaurant in the charming town of Pleasantville, Iowa.

The atmosphere is memorable, as antique signs and tools fill the wall.  A funtioning stoplight hangs from the ceiling where you wait to be seated.  The newspaper-styled menus are fun to read before you place an order, and the waitstaff is usually at the top of its game.

Add top-notch food into the mix and you have all the traits of an absolutely fabulous restaurant.  The hand-battered onion rings are worth the drive alone.  If you’re in central Iowa, definitely make Checkerboard a destination: you won’t regret it.

Feature: Smokey Row (Pleasantville, Iowa)

Smokey Row (Pleasanville, Iowa)

Smokey Row has been a favorite of mine since we first discovered their original Pleasantville location several years ago.  I love the nostalgic atmosphere of the coffee house/soda fountain, which features wood floors, brick walls, and retro booths.

My wife and I originally made Smokey Row a destination for soda, as they were one of the only places in southeast Iowa to serve ice-cold glass bottle of Mountain Dew.  Unfortunately, the nearby bottling plant ceased operation of their returnable bottle line in 2005, so we had to look to other menu items for our more recent visits.

It turns out the desserts we’ve tried have been top-notch.  You can’t beat the ‘Green River’ from the soda fountain, and the food options make for a great, informal lunch.  If you aren’t planning a trip to Pleasantville soon, you can find Smokey Row locations in Pella and Oskaloosa, too.

Smokey Row Headquarters on Urbanspoon

Feature: Cordova Park Tower (Near Knoxville, Iowa)

Cordova Park Tower (Near Knoxville, Iowa)

A few years ago, Amanda and I ventured to the Cordova Park Observation Tower for the first time.  Located near Lake Red Rock in Iowa, it’s a fun summer destination.

The observation tower was first opened to the public in 1998, after the addition of 170 spiral steps and a viewing platform to an old water tower.  The climb is rewarding; at the top, you’ll enjoy a ridiculously good view of Lake Red Rock and the surrounding area on a clear day.

Finally, a fun piece of trivia.  According to the Red Rock Area website, the Cordova Park Observation Tower features the longest continuous fiberglass staircase in the world.