Another Roadside Attraction… or 5

I fled soggy KC to head a bit north to Iowa and test out the upcoming travel app “Best Road Trip Ever!” Traveling the back roads, you can’t help but find something to make you stop the car and go “Huh?”

Giant Princess Pocahontas
Pocahontas, IA
This 25 foot pre-Disney beauty was built in 1954 by Albert and Frank Shaw. Once upon a time, there was a huge tepee that she stood guard of, but that is long gone.

The Castles of Ida Grove
Ida Grove, IA
The rags-to-riches inventor, Byron LeRoy Godbersen, loved pine trees and castles. And decided to bring that love to his small town of Ida Grove. He brought in thousands of evergreens, from all over the country, and even invented a giant shovel to dig up the really big ones.
The medieval complex was built, in part, to impress his business clients with his marine inventions, and so he wouldn’t have to leave Ida Grove. The gate by the highway is the entrance to the private corporate chalet. It includes a lake that was dug out of a cornfield featuring the 1/2 scale of the HMS Bounty, a striped lighthouse, and, well… the castle.
He influenced a number of the buildings through the town to adopt the castle-theme, including the newspaper, the golf course, and a real estate development. Most can be seen from Highway 175 heading east to US 59.

Plywood Girl and her Dalmatian

Dunlap, IA
Originally called “Iowa Landscape” – 1997 and painted by Californian muralist, John Cerney A non-commissioned scene on a farm in western Iowa. Cerney convinced the parents of an ex-produce worker friend to allow him to place this unusual domestic scene on the edge of their farm off Highway 30, near Dunlap, Iowa. The 1997 version had a 16 foot tall man is hanging an Iowa landscape painting in front of an actual Iowa landscape.
This scene was replaced in 1999 by the Little Girl Crying, and the landscape scene now sits in front of a picture frame shop in Salinas, CA, the artist’s home town.

World’s Largest Popcorn Ball

Sac City, IA
Iowans seem to be on a never ending quest to bring pride to their small towns. You can see that with the surprising number of slogans that greet you when driving along the back roads. Sac City is no exception. Home to Noble Popcorn, they boast the World’s Largest Popcorn Ball.
The Guiness Book of World Champions was hand-rolled on February 28, 2009, weighs a whopping 5,060 lbs. It’s 7.5 feet tall, and 29 feet in diameter.
After a few previous attempts at big popcorn ball making, the years of ball-building expertise went into its construction. The ball is built hot, using syrup and melted sugar as glue. “We actually beat the air out of it with our fists as we made it,” said Shirley Phillips, county tourism board member. (Sac City has learned the hard way with previous giant sticky balls, that a loose popcorn ball becomes a crumbly popcorn ball). Building it in the wintertime was also chosen from previous experience, to allow the ball to “cool out” completely. The previous ball, built in the summer of 2004, stayed too hot for too long and eventually had to be fitted with a shrink-wrap girdle to keep it from sagging out of shape. (excerpted from Roadside America)
This one isn’t going to roll anywhere, it has the same bottom-heavy shape as the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, KS.

Barn Quilts of Sac County
Starting in 2005, the barns of Sac County, IA began to have 8 ft by 8 ft painted quilt blocks mounted on them. Barns or corn cribs tend to be at least 50 years old, and the pattern (or block) has an agriculture related name or heritage. The barn quilt movement began in Adams Co, Ohio when Donna Sue Groves painted a quilt block on her tobacco barn to honor her mother. Since then the trend has spread to 25 states.
Sac County, Iowa has embraced the movement, with 55 barn quilts by 2006 with more popping up.
You can find a map of the quilts here: