All pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone
(click pictures to enlarge)
I saw a brochure titled, "The Amana Colonies" and that piqued my curiosity. I read enough to learn they are still in existence and only about a dozen miles from the campground so off I went. It's one of those serendipitous finds when traveling.
I will try to be brief since you can read up on it yourself, but it is interesting.
People in Germany were beginning to have trouble with the Lutheran Church around the 1700's. Basically, they believed they could talk directly to God and God could talk directly to them without having to go through the priests and church. A group of these people (they are NOT the Amish or Mennonites) had had a enough and in 1843 they packed up and came to America in search of religious freedom. About 1,200 of them settled near Buffalo, New York and pooled their money to buy 5,000 acres of land. They wrote a constitution outlining their communal (communist) way of life. Things were OK until the city of Buffalo started growing quickly and started crowding them. They sent scouts out to find new lands in the west. So, in 1855 they moved again, this time to Iowa.
They bought 26,000 acres of land in what is now the Iowa River Valley. They built 6 villages separated by a couple of miles. They were named Amana, East Amana, West Amana, South Amana, High Amana and Middle Amana. They chose the name Amana since it meant "remain true"/"remain faithful". When the railroad missed their villages, they realized they needed a railroad connection so they bought the entire existing village of Homestead which became the 7th colony. The communal (communist) way of life continued. Each village had communal kitchens that cooked 3 meal a day including morning and afternoon snacks. In the heyday, there were 50 communal kitchens in the 7 villages. The menus were the same in all the kitchens so that everyone received the same meal. The women did the cooking and gardening while the men worked in the fields, mills, shops, etc. Everything they needed was provided for them. The children went to school 6 days a week, year round, until the age of 14 when they were giving a job to do within the village. If they needed a specialist, they would choose a smart boy and send him off to school to become a doctor, teacher, dentist, etc. Their churches are very ordinary looking without any pomp and ceremony. The graves in their graveyard are placed in order of death so as not to be individualized. The villages thrived and prospered. Life was good on the prairie of America, for a while.
|Downtown Amana. Full of shops. I didn't need anything so I avoided these places.|
|This one nearly got me to go inside, but I resisted the call of chocolate|
We interrupt this post for a quote from our 31st President:
"Communism is an evil thing. It is contrary to the spiritual, moral and material aspirations of man. These very reasons give rise to my conviction that it will decay and die of its own poisons. But that may be many years away and, in the meantime, we must be prepared for a long journey".
Herbert Hoover--- January 27, 1952
Although President Hoover was talking about the Soviet Union, his words were applicable to the Amana Colonies. Incidentally, President Hoover was born in West Branch, Iowa which is about 20 miles from the Colonies. I couldn't find any reference to them in any of his quotes but it would be interesting to know if the Colonies help form his opinion on communism.
Ok, back to the Colonies. Everything was going pretty good until the 1930's. The Great Despression did not skip the colonies and to compound the depression, one of their largest mills burned down and they were suffering from a drought. Instead of seeing the villages abandoned by the folks and young people moving off to find work, etc, they had a meeting and created the Amana Society, a profit sharing corporation. The Society would manage the ownership of the land and major properties, but Private Enterprise was encouraged. The religious side of the villages remained unchanged. The communal way of life ended and even today, it is referenced at the Great Change.
For those of you who are trying to remember where you heard the name Amana, think of Amana Radarange Microwaves. They were the first microwave ovens built in 1967 by the Amana Corporation. Whirlpool owns them now and has a plant in one of the villages.
For the Colonies, their communal (communist) way of life lasted about 80 to 90 years. Coincidentally, the Soviet Union lasted about 70 years. Perhaps that is the lifespan of Communism? Although their communal way of life was necessary for a while so they could survive in the "wilderness", it did die from its "own poison" as President Hoover said.
The reason I knew about Hoovers quote, was that I read it for the first time today when I visited the Herbert Hoover Museum in West Branch (about 10 miles from here). He was a great man that unjustly took the blame for the Great Depression. After learning more about him at the museum and online, I've come away very impressed with his accomplishments in life, not just his Presidency. In school, we were taught they he caused the Great Depression and it too FDR to come along to get us out of it. We were lied to by our history books and teachers. I won't go into it here, but if you are interested, read up on the man and you may be impressed too. As a tidbit to spark your interest, he is credited with feeding a billion people, mostly children, in 57 different countries and this was not while he was president.
|The Hoover Museum. |
It is worth a stop if you're in the area.
Tomorrow is moving day. I plan to make a long haul of about 400 miles to a Nebraska State Park along Interstate 80 called Windmill State Recreation Area. There is nothing special that I know of in that area, so I'll be searching for something to see and do. I'll be there until Sunday morning before continuing into Colorado. I would go on into Colorado early but the place I plan to stay has no vacancies until Sunday.
|Last picture of the campground. |
That is Liberty in the center.