Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Found It!

"Crossroads On The Cedar" by Clarence W. Baldwin.
 Quite some time ago now my friend, Tony, lent me a book he had which was one part history of the Cedar Valley, one part geography, one part geology, and one part about how humnas traversed this area from antiquity up until the 20th Century. 

I found its contents fascinating, because I live here, but also because I have become intimately familiar with the land in and around Black Hawk County. I knew vague tidbits and hints of the past, but this book unlocked the secrets of this area and made my eyes see why things have developed as they have over the past 200 years in this area. 

As I say, Tony's book was a loan, so I read it once, scanned some maps in it, and gave it back to him. I then started looking for a copy, but then one thing led to another, and well that idea got driven clean out of my head. That is, until I started digging around again recently concerning the plat maps of 1910 for Black Hawk County, and ran across more history of the area. 

There was a reference in one story about a really well researched book concerning the old trails in Black Hawk County and that the author's name was Clarence W. Baldwin. A little sleuthing revealed that this was a reference to the very same book Tony lent me. I found a single copy on Amazon, ironically a retired copy from the Waterloo Public Library, and bought it. It's a little beat up, and the maps are mostly missing, (fortunately I scanned Tony's copy), but I was stoked to get my hands on this resource over the weekend. 

It's got a lot of great information regarding where the old Native American trails ran, why they ran that way, and how those trails influenced immigration to this area. It tells the tale of where these trails were likely to have informed current highways, and why many faded away due to farmers not liking trespassing wanderers who were seeking ways to the West. It tells the tale of Waterloo and Cedar Falls early days and now I kind of know why the streets ran parallel to the river instead of along the compass points in the original plat. (This really screwed up subsequent additions and is partly why Waterloo is a nightmare to navigate for new folks.)   

So, between this and the 1910 Atlas of Black Hawk County I have found online I will be having a bit more interesting rides than I used to. Again, like I stated on Friday, I encourage anyone that rides in a rural area to dig into their local history. It is enriching, and enlightening, and you will have a treasure to pass on to future generations.


Steve said...

Hi GT,
Maybe you were just focused on owning a copy, but a quick search also shows that the Waterloo Public Library system has 5 copies available. Libraries rock.

Guitar Ted said...

@Steve - Indeed, libraries do rock. However; at the time my friend had loaned me that book, the library did not have any copies of it.

When my daughter worked there at the library I also was unable to track the book down. That was during 2019.

Maybe they obtained more copies? Don't know...... But as you say, I was after this to own it, not to borrow it. (Note: The copy in my hands was retired from circulation in 2005)

NY Roll said...

Must be nice to complain about roads not in a grid format. Why are you so structured? ;)

R said...

I read a book a few years back called "Wicked River - When the Mississippi Last Ran Wild" - it was a collection of stories and lore about the Mighty Miss - (not all about Iowa, obviously - but similar content to what you're describing)... short-quick-read, but for those who enjoy this kind of stuff - it's worth a look!