Hello readers and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage blog!
As many of you know, Perry is a town that flourished because of the railroad. The railroad was so prevalent here that we have many photographs in our collection that show the trains, the tracks, and more. In fact, Perry used to have so many trains that came in and out of town that we had our own roundhouse! Although the number of roundhouses is not clear from our records, we do know that one roundhouse used to be located where the elementary school is currently. What is interesting about the roundhouse, however, is that it was not just used as a place to gather trains! Readers, do you have any guesses as to what else might have happened at the old roundhouse?
If you guessed that people used to go skeet shooting at the roundhouse, then you would be right! According to the description of this photo, people would go out on Sundays and meet at the roundhouse where they would do some skeet shooting in the 1940s. What amazes me most about this is that guns were allowed so close to a place of work. If the shooters were fooling around too much, they could have injured one of the railroad workers! Perhaps this was allowed because the workers were not working during Sundays? Or maybe the railroad workers were in on it and allowed people to do this without the consent of the managers. It seems only someone who was there would know!
In any case, it looks like this is what people would do for fun during the 1940s. Readers, what do you do for fun on the weekends? Let us know in the comments, and join us next week for another Hometown Heritage Blog!
Hello readers and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage blog!
Many of you, like me, probably remember when Perry used to have a railway instead of a bike trail. There used to be the whistle of a train near every-day and cars would have to wait for the trains to pass. The Milwaukee Road, as evidenced in the art in the Hotel Pattee, used to pass through here as well. In fact, I found some interesting pictures about the Milwaukee Road in our collection!
First, we have a picture of the last Milwaukee train to leave Perry on March 23, 1980 at 6 P.M. Although not that interesting of a photo, it shows the slow progress of the railroad leaving Perry. The next photo, however, creates some questions for me. The picture is also of the Milwaukee Road, but has a note that says it is the “Rip” Track Area. From the looks of the picture, it seems to be an empty road, with a bit of track near the bottom of the picture. This is where my questions start! I looked up what a “Rip” track is supposed to be and according to Wikipedia it is short for “repair inspect paint” track. Yet to me, it seems like there is no track here! In addition, the picture is dated to 1980, the same year when the last Milwaukee train left Perry! Perhaps this means that it is the ripping up of the train tracks in this area? It would definitely appear this way, since the area is covered in dirt and the track at the bottom is covered up. However, I do not know for sure, as our database does not provide much information. Since this happened in 1980, perhaps some of you readers may know? If you do, please let us know in the comments, and join us next week for another blog post!
Hello and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage!
The date is August 6, 1902, and you are boarding the train on the Milwaukee line heading to Milwaukee. It is a sunny afternoon, and everything seems normal. As you board the train, you can see engineers and other workers rushing around preparing the train for departure. As the whistle blows signaling the train will be leaving the station soon, you hurry toward your seat and place your baggage above you on the rack. You then settle into your seat, ready for what you assume will be a standard trip on the train. Little do you know, this train will never make it to its final stop.
An hour or so passes on the train, and everything seems normal. People talk in hushed tones around you, keeping mostly to themselves. The conductor, having collected all the tickets, returns from the back of the train, heading toward the front. As you watch him walk past, you wonder what he does during the trip and admire his fancy hat, but soon return to the book you brought with you. More time passes, and you hear the train whistle blow loudly as the train pulls into the station. Seeing that this is the station at Collins, you return to your book, not paying much attention to those boarding and disembarking. Your eyes grow heavy, and soon you fall asleep as the train pulls out of the station.
The train lets out an ear-piercing whistle, jarring you awake. You look out the window, and are surprised to see that the train is not near a station at all. Another shrill whistle sounds, and it fills you with a sense of urgency. You try to lean as close to the window as you can to get a glimpse of what is ahead, but you cannot see anything. A third whistle sounds: now other people on the train are starting to talk. Everyone can feel something in the air, but no one knows what exactly it is. A fourth whistle, even more urgent sounding than the third, and suddenly you are thrown from your seat as the sound of metal crashing into metal fills the air. Chaos ensues as people are flung about the train. Your head pounds, and as you put your hand to your temple you feel a hot, sticky liquid and pull your hand back to see your fingers coated in red. The conductor, his clothes a mess and without his hat, comes back through the train, asking people to quickly and quietly leave the train. You do as he asks, and as you move down the train you seem some people following his advice, while others sit eerily still. Once off the train and a fair distance away, you look and it finally dawns upon you that you have just survived a horrible train wreck, one in which some people will not be leaving alive.
Although this may not have been exactly how it happened, a train wreck did occur on August 6, 1902 between Collins and Rhodes Iowa. As you can see in the picture, the locomotive is in a bad state, having just run into a work train. Nine people, including an engineer from Perry, died in the crash. Although our records do not state the exact details of the crash, it seems likely that the work train was not supposed to be on the tracks. In reality, only those on the train could have known what truly happened, but who knows, maybe my description is closer than I think!
As a reminder, the next Gary Ernest Smith event is on October 13th at the Hotel Pattee from 4:30 – 6:30! This time Adrienne Gennett, the Assistant Curator of Collections and Education at University Museums in ISU will be here! I hope to see you there!
Hello and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage Blog readers!
As many of you know, Perry used to be a big place for trains. We used to have the Interurban Railroad, a roundhouse, and more. The trains would transport people and goods back and forth along the tracks; but what would happen when a train came off the tracks? Would it still be useful?
Many of you may be surprised to know that the answer is yes! Recently I found a very peculiar picture that was taken around 1945 on the farm of Carl Hansen. As you can see, there is a steam engine that looks very strange. Apparently, what has happened is that Carl has converted the engine into a hay thrasher. He did this by changing the wheels of the train so that it no longer needed tracks and could drive freely. He also most likely attached something to the back of the engine that would do the thrashing. What really gets me thinking, however, is how Carl got the engine to his farm in the first place! Did he modify it at the train station, or did he find a way to drag it all the way to his farm? Perhaps the answer lies in the strange belt that is attached to the engine that goes out of frame? We may never know.
Before I go, I want to mention that last night we had a great Opening Reception for the Gary Ernest Smith Exhibition! Do not fret if you missed your chance to come and get a tour, as we will have more introductory tours on September 1, from 4:30 to 6:30 P.M. at the Hotel Pattee. Also in September there is a big event happening on the 22nd here in Perry. That night starting at 6:30 P.M., Dr. Pam Jenkins will be in town giving a lecture related to the art, and Gary Ernest Smith himself will be here to give an art walk! Mark it on your calendars now!
Today we are going to talk about something other than Perry, Iowa. Of course, we are not going to far, just down the road about 8 miles to a little town called Bouton!
Nowadays, Bouton is a quiet little town, if you can even call it a town. All it has is a post office, a bar, a fire department, and baseball field. Other than this, there a few churches, which mostly sit unused, and a magical little place called “Friendship Hall”. That is right; there is not even a gas station of any kind! The place is so small, you can literally stand at one end of town and see all the way to the other side (trust me, I know). However, did you know that Bouton was not always like this?
Way back around 1910, Bouton had a lot more to offer then it does now. For instance, did you know that Bouton once had a High School? The High School was a simple building with two stories with only a few rooms and was built around 1910. The classes were not very big, but that is typical in 1910. The high school even had a band that played in various parades. A high school is not the only thing that Bouton used to have. Bouton used to be a big enough town to hold parades, such as the Sauerkraut Days Parade that you can see pictured below (As to the activities of Sauerkraut Days, I can only imagine copious amounts of sauerkraut being devoured).
“Why did Bouton used to be so big?” you may be asking. Well, here is the answer: Trains. Bouton was a railroad town, where the town springs up around a train stop, to provide services and living spaces for the workers. Unfortunately, just as the trains left Perry, so the trains left Bouton. The trains left Bouton before they left Perry, but the result is clear: the town started to shrink. The last students to attend the high school, for example, attended in 1941-42. Eventually, the town shrunk down to what it is today. Thankfully, Perry has not taken the same route after the trains left, and has stayed vibrant. If you wish to know more about Bouton in the old days, please stop by and look at our collection!