Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Fall Views: Eastern Black Hawk County History Ride

The escape route. Newell Street looking East.

 Saturday I hung out with the family and went to the farmer's market in the morning. Then after lunch I bugged out on another blue-bird day with low winds from the North on a ride to bag more Black Hawk County gravel roads. 

The trouble with my plan is that now the roads I need to get to are further away from home or they are stubs, truncated bits, or only accessible via paved roads. Such is the fate of one on such a quest as mine. Oh well! At least I have gravel roads to ride. Many do not. 

So, on this ride, I had to go all the way out to the Eastern border of Black Hawk County to bag a few miles of roads and then head back to the house. It's hard to decide which bunch of roads to grab so I just winged it and went with what felt best as I was riding. There just isn't any good way to string all of the roads I need to get in a few big rides so why bother? I'll just keep mopping up roads and going out East and Southeast until I get everything bagged. 

The road I chose to go East on was Newell Street. It starts as a regular street in Waterloo and turns gravel at about the point where Tyson's meatpacking plant is. Conveniently, there is a diagonal-ish road called Martin Luther King Drive with a bike trail alongside of it that almost takes me all the way to gravel roads. Once I get east of Tyson's it is all gravel travel. There is maybe a half mile of paved road here, but I stick to the shoulder. Sometimes you have to dodge a few semi tractor-trailers, but the gravel shoulder is packed down well and I don't have to ride on the busy pavement. Not a bad way to make an escape from the grip of the city. 

This golden hue is taking over the countryside.

 I saw many cornfields which appeared to be almost 100% dried down.

There was a tiny bit of gravel, about a mile long, which runs parallel to Newell waaaaay out east that I needed to bag, and that turned out to be easy. I did have to dodge the speeding rural mail carrier a couple of times. That road bagged, I decided to bag the rest of Black Hawk-Buchanan Road from the point where Newell "T's" into it Northward, then find my way North to the end of Big Rock Road and then go back toward home. 

New Barclay Cemetery. I'd been here before.

That's the end of Black Hawk-Buchanan Road! Looking East into Buchanan County here.

The road led me to a "T" and I hadn't remembered that. This put me on the far Eastward section of Barclay Road. I knew that I did not want to continue West on Barclay Road as that wasn't going to help me in bagging more roads. So, when I came up on Cunningham Road, I vaguely remembered from looking at the maps that this curved into Big Rock Road. There was only a two mile stretch of Cunningham to be had here, so that would knock that bit off the list. 

The plaque at Old Barclay Cemetery

And the obligatory gate shot.

I hadn't expected to come across Old Barclay Cemetery on Cunningham Road as I figured it was on Barclay Road. Silly me! It was a nice surprise and the historical plaque at the site helped tell a little bit of the story of this small corner of Iowa. 

Barns For Jason #1

Barns For Jason #2

While this was a completely new area to me, I didn't see that many new barns. My inclination is that this area was quite remote in terms of late 19th Century Iowa, and so not too many old farms were established here. Especially close to the Wapsipinicon River, which gets pretty swampy and flooded a lot since the land around it lays low. Modern farming techniques have helped overcome these obstacles to some degree. I suppose also that damage from storms and fires may have taken out many barns long before I got around to coming out this way. Hard to say, but there were some barns. Of course there were!

Barns For Jason #3

A couple of odd looking grain bins caught my eye on this farm. They looked like witch's hats!

The Eastern end of Big Rock Road was also a bit that I hadn't ever traveled on before either, so this all fit nicely into a loop and would send me back home with approximately 33 miles on the day. I didn't take my computer, so this is an estimation based off the County map. 

Barns For Jason #4

Barns For Jason #5

The rest of the ride went well and I got home on familiar roads. Nothing interesting happened or was seen along the way. Farmers appear to be waiting to harvest yet, for the most part. There was little activity to be seen out there. I suppose it is 'the calm before the storm, as they say.

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