Thursday, August 30, 2012

Steamer tour heats up American Gothic House

 Appropriately named, the Iowa Steamin’ Hot Tour hit the American Gothic House and Center Tuesday morning with an array of onlookers on hand to see something most of them had only heard about or seen pictures of—100 year-old steam cars, Stanly Steamers to be exact.

Several times throughout the year owners of steam cars plan and coordinate driving tours around the country and this year Stanley Steamer owner and trip organizer Nancy Roach of Libertyville, Ill. picked a corner of Southeast Iowa, with a stop at the American Gothic House and Center as part of the itinerary. And that is what brought a dozen steam-powered cars with drivers and passengers, along with a support staff in normal-looking cars with windows and air conditioning to town. In all, 46 steam cars enthusiasts from across the United States descended on the Center for refreshments and to have their picture taken—along with their car—in front of the American Gothic House.

One by one with steam billowing all around the drivers pulled onto the pad in front of the house while volunteers stood by with the necessary props to help each of them get in character. It was both fun and educational, considering absolutely none of us at the Center had a clue about how a steam-powered car operated. Did you know these cars operate with an open flame that heats the water to make the steam? A bit on the dangerous side it would appear.

While standing in front of the house talking about the tour, Nancy’s husband, Mike Roach, immediately made a connection with none other than Grant Wood. Speaking about driving throughout the countryside he observed that “around very corner there is a Grant Wood theme.”

This is usually the way things go, it takes someone not of here to point out the obvious to those of us who are here. On his drive he saw the same dry corn as I do; the same ponds that are in need of water and still sees something Grant Wood could have painted. All I see is dry corn and brown grass. If I was so inclined I would use the glass half empty/half full line but I hate clichés so I won’t. Anyway, it is obvious.

I thought about his words the rest of the day and come to conclude that Mike is right; our countryside does look like a Grant Wood scene, especially if it is viewed as what it could. Maybe I need to start looking the landscape differently. This, of course, brings to mind another cliché…

A word about the volunteers:

Ten volunteers showed up to help with the pictures, serve pie and coffee, man the gift or do whatever else needed done in support of the tour. The American Gothic House Center became a reality thanks to local volunteers and each one of them is vital to daily operations. Thanks once again volunteers, the Center could not operate without you.

Labor Day: The American Gothic House Center will be open from 1-4 pm on Labor Day, Sept. 3.

To see what it was like Tuesday at the Center click on the following link to our Facebook page:

Brian Chambers
Media Coordinator
The American Gothic House Center

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