Amana Colonies - 2004
HitchHiker International Rally - 2004
The Community of True Inspiration became a legal corporation in 1859 calling itself the "Amana Society". They located close enough to two towns to be able to do business with them but far enough away to maintain a sense of separation.
Separate colonies were established to provide housing and services close to where the residents were assigned to work on the 26,000 acre property. This map shows their location.
Lily Lake is the result of the 7-mile long Millrace built in the 1860s to provide power to the woolen mill.
The Amana Colonies have a lot of the usual things you would see in many towns established in the late 1800s. What makes the Amana Colonies different is their history of communal living from 1842 until they voted to end their communal living in 1932. In 1932 they created the Amana Church Society to direct matters of their faith and the Amana Society, Inc. to oversee their businesses and farming operations.
Today, tourism is a large industry. You can find shops with a variety of specialty items.
In the woolen mill, you can watch the machines make the fabric sold in the adjoining store.
This general store in High Amana combines the historical and current.
The restaurants offer full menus but specialize in German food. If you choose to have a meal while in the area, be sure to save room for dessert.
We started our tour in the museum in Amana (some people say Main Amana to avoid confusion). Their video and displays give you the information you need to more fully appreciate what you will see later. They do not permit photographs in the museum. A ticket for a fee of $8.00 per person covers all five historical buildings on the tour - or, pay $4 or $5 per building. It is a good deal if you plan to see all buildings. If we had not been there for the HitchHiker Rally, we would have spent two nights in the area allowing a full day in the Amana Colonies. .
Behind the museum is a building housing a laundry and workshop.
Water heater in laundry ... Cabbage cutter ... Fruit sprayer ...
Rhubarb grinder ... Step ladders ... Outhouse dipper ...
Lumber was a plentiful commodity so many of their buildings are untreated wood structures. However, some are brick and others are stone.
The frames seen on many buildings are for grapevines. Wine was and still is a product sold by the colonies.
The Amana Colonies had six churches. We visited the church in High Amana. They continue to have people joining the church.
The front and rear of the church is very stark. They were minimalists. In the Inspirational Church, the men and women enter in different doors and sit on opposite sides of the church. This is still practiced. Today, unlike the early times, women can participate in the leadership.
There were 60 kitchens in the colonies. Each person was assigned to a kitchen in their colony. The workers ate in the kitchen or the meals were brought to them at their workplace. Baskets were used to take meals home for the children.
Each colony has its own cemetery. We visited the High Amana cemetery. There are no family plots in any cemetery. People are buried in chronological order, facing East, in each cemetery. The headstones are identical. Each has the persons name, date of death, and the number of years, months and days they lived.
Many of the historical buildings have on display interesting items.
Gum vending machine... A wood peg maker ... A crank/chain wheelchair ...
A large maple rocker ... A little stuck ... An Amana refrigerator ...
If the refrigerator looks a little old - it is. Located in Middle Amana is the Maytag Appliance - Amana Refrigeration Products plant. It originated as an independent appliance business in the colony.
You can expect a trip to the Amana Colonies to be busy in 2005. It is their 150th year celebration.
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HitchHiker International Rally - 2004
We look forward to each annual HitchHikers of America International Rally. This was our third in a row. It is an opportunity meet new people and to fellowship in person with friends from many states we only e-mail or telephone during the year.
This year it was held in the Amana Colonies RV Park of Iowa. We had 110 RVs made by NuWa at the rally. Only a few can be seen from this location on ground level across the road from the campground.
This was the view from our window.
The Amana Colonies RV Park is a large almost flat campground. It has very nice indoor facilities for large groups. This building was used for most activities. A building next door was used for the vendors who attend. Many suppliers who provide products to NuWa for installation in the HitchHiker fifth wheels were there to answer questions and offer service.
Another benefit of attending the rally is the support the manufacturer provides. At all the rallies we have attended, Mike, 'RV' and other staff members have been there. Mike is the owner of NuWa. He talks with the owners to obtain feedback on his products and suggestions for future development. 'RV' is there to answer questions and provide factory service for the little things needing attention.
RVers are always ready to help when needed. Dick arrived after connecting with a red post during a refueling stop 30 miles from the rally. Jerry stepped in to apply duct tape (provided by another RVer) to the damaged area.
But, all is not business and work. We were there primarily to have fun and enjoy fellowship with other NuWa owners. The days were full with seminars and other events. A book and audio book exchange, the wearable store, continental breakfasts and RVer to RVer conversation added to the event.
Throughout the rally days, tough athletic competition was scheduled. Some of the games were real battles.
Look at the form on these bean-bag baseball players.
These people were exhausted after their competition.
As a reward, everyone (players and spectators) was invited to Wednesday's ice cream social provided by one of the vendors.
A brief opening ceremony on Monday evening got things rolling. Vendors and others were introduced. Any changes in the information provided in the registration packet were announced. It was followed by live entertainment.
Mondays entertainment was a polka band. The band encouraged people to dance in the aisle and some did.
Three members from the audience 'auditioned' for an open position in the percussion section of the band .
Tuesday evening's entertainment was a quartet who sang mainly old standards, gospel and cowboy songs.
They too needed help with instrumentation. Two people selected from the audience accompanied the singers for one song.
These birthday girls and anniversary couples were 'dragged' from the audience to be honored.
During one song, the Pony Express was celebrated. Instead of the rider quickly changing horses, the riders were changed. These first three riders each gave their horse to another innocent victim who did the same.
Wednesday evening Larry told us how to form a local chapter, explained the 2005 tour destinations and announced where the next rally will be held.
The 2005 rally will be in Gillette, Wyoming.
After the short 'meeting', we played BINGO. We did not win anything - the first card was free so we didn't lose anything either.
Thursday was the final full day of the rally. It started with a pancake breakfast. You had to be alert to 'catch' your pancakes. This women caught hers in the chin. Who knows where the next one will land - some landed in the first row of tables.
If you ever have pancakes flipped at you, the secret is to use two hands - hold your plate with one hand and use your other hand to grab the pancakes that don't hit the plate. Eventually, everyone enjoyed breakfast.
A new luncheon event was the Red Hat Society Gathering.
That was followed by the Arts and Crafts Show and Sale, RV Patio Sale and Amana Woolen Mill Fashion Show.
Our farewell dinner was served quickly and enjoyed by all.
We had lunch twice at the restaurant catering the farewell dinner. The second time we were with some Michigan friends. During both visits the friendliness of the owner was evident. Rex enjoyed his strawberry-rhubarb pie at lunch so much, she reserved a piece for him at the farewell dinner. The other 220+ people had caramel-apple pie.
Before Thursday's entertainment began, awards were handed out for the games and craft competition.
The craft competition was a Country Fair Exhibit kind of display with members voting on 'the best' - they were all good. These are a couple examples.
An award was also presented for the best Halloween decorated rig.
Thursdays entertainment was another band. One instrument was very interesting - a Concertina. The tuba player did stand-up comedy for half the time.
They did not have an 'official' singer in the band so they drafted a choir from the audience.
Dolores was selected to direct this ragtag choir.
Friday morning had only two things on the schedule. A continental breakfast ... and ... saying 'good-bye' until the next time we meet.
Our thanks to
Dolores and Don and the many volunteers
who made the rally enjoyable.
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