The Washington Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership class got to experience an once-in-a-lifetime tour around Washington County on May 11th.
The theme of the day was County History Day where majority of the day was spent on a bus viewing the countryside with a tour led by local historian Michael Zahs.
Leaders Jennifer Wharton (Hills Bank) and Jonathon Ward (Paneless Windows) rounded up the group to start the day at 8AM at the Fairgrounds where the class enjoyed breakfast provided by Best of Iowa and learned about the historical significance of some of the buildings present on the grounds today.
The class then boarded the bus to explore the county for the day. First stop, F-Troop Military Museum where tour guide, Tom Colthurst, welcomed the class. Next on the tour, Hills Bank, where one of the largest collection of work from one of the nation’s iconic artist and famous Iowan, Grant Wood, is believed to be displayed. Zahs spoke about his personal collection of paintings including over 30 signed pieces from Wood.
After exploring Washington, the class set off to Ainsworth where they walked the cemetery and viewed the Ainsworth Opera House. From there, the class headed off to Kalona where they were able to shop at the Community Country Store and enjoy a delicious family-style meal provided by Miller Homestead Cooking. Owner, Ila Fern Miller fielded questions from the class explaining their culture as New Order Amish and her family.
After the class was stuffed it was time to walk off their meal. Back on the bus, the tour led them to a private Native Indian burial ground, Graveyard Point, where the class got to hike up to view the only spot on earth where three cultures chose to bury their dead – the Woodland people, the Sac and Fox and settlers.
Other towns and sites visited during the day included Crawfordsville, Riverside, and Pleasant Hill Church. The class also got to witness coal mines and terminal moraines created by glaciers that used to occupy the county thousands of years ago. The tour then concluded by visiting the Salem Church of God, where Zahs still attends church today.