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Pieces of Eight in Color- Iowa Treasures

Posted October 09, 2014 in Adel, Altoona, Ames, Ankeny, Beaverdale, Community Blogs, Bondurant, Boone, Clear Lake, Des Moines West, Downtown, Greene County, Grimes, Johnston, Norwalk, Perry, Pleasant Hill, Urbandale, Waukee, West Des Moines, Windsor Heights, Winterset

As we slip into fall, we start to look for color in our trees and forests and places of beauty.  That search is like a treasure hunt.

One of the most famous elements of a treasure hunt is a coin.  The phrase “pieces of eight” conjures up images of pirates, treasure chests, jewels and silver and gold.  Those three words create excitement and fill us with the sense of adventure and intrigue.  Once the treasure is found it becomes a pleasure for both the eye and the mind.  Finding the pieces of eight – our natural treasures is the challenge and the fun.  Take a road trip to find the treasure on our hillsides, valleys, lakes and rivers.

Spanish Dollar – Piece of Eight

UntitledThe Spanish dollar (also known as the piece of eight (peso de ocho), was minted in 1497.  How does this single pieces of eight coin relate to Iowa?  It is clearly a piece of treasure.  Iowa is filled with treasures – not the coin, but, the natural beauty spots of our State.  Iowa’s treasures are all around us, highly visible and in the fall they are wrapped in color – they are the special areas that we enjoy for their scenic beauty and the pleasure they give to the eye and mind of the beholder.

Over the years my wife and I have traveled Iowa from corner to corner and everywhere in between.  Defining Iowa’s treasures will vary with each one of us.  That is the challenge of this article.  What are the eight scenic places (not people, events or elements of history) in Iowa that you consider as our “top treasures” – our pieces of eight.

Here are my top eight.

1. Our Iowa State Capitol – designed by a French Icarian architect Alfred H. Piquenard is certainly one of the most attractive State Capitol  and setting in the nation.

2. Pikes Peak State Park and the Mississippi River in Clayton County – northeast Iowa. (or maybe the Balltown Vista in Dubuque County)

3. The Loess Hills of Western Iowa (specifically the Loess Hills State Forest area) – they define the western side of the State and are in contrast to the wide broad floodplain of the Missouri River.

4. Blood Run National Historic Landmark at the north end of the Loess Hills in Lyon County Iowa.  A rich historic native American site along both sides of the Big Sioux river – Iowa and Good Earth State Park in South Dakota

5. Ledges State Park in Central Iowa near Boone.  Pease Creek and the fords along the stream and lower canyon area along with the CCC structures and fords represents a beauty that is intimate and special.

6. The Upper Iowa River in Allamakee County – the beautiful limestone bluffs and tree lined river meandering its way to the Mississippi River.

7. Villages of Van Buren County that follows the path of the Des Moines River in southeast Iowa.

8. Mines of Spain area on the southern edge of Dubuque overlooking the Mississippi River.

I’m sure many of you will not agree with my selection, so let me know your top eight scenic areas in Iowa.  Each of us has a different set of criteria for selecting those special areas.  That is what makes this interesting.  Email me with your list or put it in the mail – I would like to hear your choices.

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