Reading List and Web sites of Interest

Iowa River (Marshall, Tama, Benton, & Iowa counties)

2023 Suggested Reading List (Click for PDF)


➢ Archaeology

• Alex, Lynn M. Iowa’s Archaeological Past. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 364 p., 2000.
• Alex, Lynn M., De La Garza, Mary C., and Whittaker, William E. The Archaeological Guide to Iowa. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 271 p., 2015.
• Collins, James M. The Iowa River Greenbelt: Archaeological Landscape. Special Publication. Office of the State Archaeologist, Iowa City, 1991.
• Whittaker, W. E., Dunne, M. T., Artz, J. A., Horgen, S. E., and Anderson, M. L. Edgewater Park: A Late Archaic Campsite along the Iowa River. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 32(1):5–45. 2007

➢ Geology

• Anderson, Wayne I. Iowa’s Geological Past: Three Billion Years of Change. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 440 p., 1998.
• Beane, B. H. Crinoids Varied in Color at Le Grand, Iowa (Abstract),” Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science, 48(1), 295-295, 1941. Available at:
• Beane Norstrud, Karen. Crinoids in the Sugar Bowl – Remembering my grandfather, amateur paleontologist B.H. Beane. Palimpsest, p. 20-29, Spring 1995.
• Boyt, Richard. Crinoid and Starfish Fossils from LeGrand, Iowa. Iowa State Department of History and Archives, 24 p., 1962.
The Famous Crinoids, Pioneer Heritage Libarary, Le Grand, IA. Web site article.
• Glenister, Brian F. Mississippian Carbonates of the Le Grand Area: Ancient Analogs of the Bahama Banks. Geological Society of Iowa Guidebook 47, 37 p, 1987.
• Hess, Hans, Ausich, William I., Brett, Carlton E., and Simms, Michael J. Fossil Crinoids – Chapter 16 Lower Mississippian Hampton Formation at LeGrand, Iowa, USA. P.135-138, 2010.
• Laudon, L.R., and Beane, B.H. The crinoid fauna of the Hampton Formation at Le Grand, Iowa.
University of Iowa Studies in Natural History, v. 17, p. 225-273, 1937.
• Libra, Robert D. Jumbo: A Runaway Artesian Well. Iowa Geology, No. 20, p. 6-9, 1993.
• Prior, Jean C. Landforms of Iowa. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 153 p., 1991.

➢ Native American Culture

• Foster, Lance M. The Indians of Iowa. University of Iowa Press, 145 p., 2009
• Gourley, Kathy. Migrations of the Sauk and Meskwaki in the Mid-1840s: The Emigration of 1845,
Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society, p. 223-228, 2003.
A History of the Meskwaki People; Meskwaki Nation Web site
Iowa Historic Indian Location Database (HILD)
Iowa’s Removal Period: Indigenous Presence near Lake Delhi
Leadership of the Meskwaki People in a Struggle for Survival
Meskwaki Powwow
The Meskwaki Talking Papers
Tribal Involvement in Archaeology in Iowa: Activism and Stewardship
• Willcockson, Tom, and Carvey, Elizabeth. Twelve Moons: A Year with the Sauk and Meskwaki, 1817-Citizens to Preserve Black Hawk Park Foundation, 52 p., 2021
• Zimmer, Eric Steven. Settlement Sovereignty: The Meskwaki Fight for Self-Governance, 1856–1937, The Annals of Iowa 73(4), p. 311-347, 2014.

➢ History

• Peterson, William J. Iowa Rivers of Her Valleys. The State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City, 381p., 1941. Pages: 141-156.
Jumbo Well in Belle Plaine (1886), YouTube video by Mitch Malcom and Belle Plaine Historical

➢ Nature & the Environment

• Dinsmore, James. A Country So Full of Game: The Story of Wildlife in Iowa. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 261 p., 1994.
• Herzberg, Ruth, and Pearson, John. The Guide to Iowa’s State Preserves. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 2001.
• Pfrimmer, Jarrett. Meskwaki Nation Leads Creation of Iowa River Watershed Coalition, Iowa Environmental Council, Web site Article.


Entertainment & Outdoor Recreation

Iowa Valley Scenic Byway 

77 miles through rural agricultural land and a variety of cultures; with the Meskwaki Settlement to the west and Amana Colonies to the east. This Audio Tour walks you through 40 hidden gems of the Iowa Valley Scenic Byway. Take a peek at its Companion Booklet to see what’s in store for you along the way. 

Rolle Bolle Courts

Rolle Bolle courts are located at multiple locations along the Iowa Valley Scenic Byway. A Belgian yard game that arrived in the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Rolle Bolle bears resemblance to other yard games such as bocce, horseshoes and curling. Courts along the  route include: Intersection of Marengo Ave and East May Street (Marengo), B’s Sports Bar, 214 Washington Street (Victor), 102 Washington Street (Victor), Intersection of Locust Street & Iowa Street (Ladora) and Franklin Park, 1107 11th Street (Belle Plaine). 

GrimesFarm and Conservation Center, 2359 233rd St, Marshalltown, IA

The GrimesFarm and Conservation Center is located just west of the city limits of Marshalltown. It lies on the west side of Highland Acres Road and on the north side of 233rd Street. Using Resource Enhancement & Protection funds (REAP), grants, and donations from corporations, civic groups, and individuals, a Conservation Center was built at the GrimesFarm in 2003. The center provides support for environmental education, space for natural history exhibits, a classroom for indoor meetings and activities, and houses the Marshall County Conservation Board administrative offices. Today thousands of students in all grade levels enjoy this outdoor classroom. Displays will continue to evolve over the years. Hiking trails provide access to the forests, wetlands, prairies, and crop fields. Public interpretive programs are scheduled periodically throughout the year.

Otter Creek – Nature Center, 2283 Park Rd, Toledo, IA

The Tama County Nature Center is located at Otter Creek Lake and Park. The 5,600 sq. ft. facility was the result of fundraising over the past three decades as phased construction was pursued.The Nature Center is being used for environmental education activities of the board. The formal display room is ready for public viewing with the completion of Phase 2 reached during the summer of 2016. This inspiring display includes a striking diorama of riparian habitats in central Iowa, authentic soundtrack of wildlife, beautiful murals and interactive displays. This display room is a must see for adults and kids. At this time a viewing schedule has not been set so it is advised to call ahead to make sure staff will be on site to let you into the space.

Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel

It’s more than just another night out. With 67,553 square feet of endless casino games, a fully stocked bar, and friendly, happy-to-help staff, the gaming floor at Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel is your go-to place for a good time! You’ll find the loosest slot machines in all of Iowa, with your choice of penny slots, a $100 machine, and everything in between. You’ll find 25 table games and bingo five days a week.

Green Castle Recreation Area, 2891 Green Castle Rd, Gilman, IA 50106

In 1977 Marshall County Conservation Board purchased a 116 1/2 acres area with a 16 acre lake now known as Green Castle Recreational Area. The rolling landscape of this area is painted with native prairie, evergreen trees, and hardwood trees. The lake was restocked with bluegill, large-mouth bass, channel catfish and black crappie. This fishery will improve over the next few years. Several new fishing jetties were also constructed in 2014 as well as a boat ramp installed near the south end of the lake for easy access for canoes and kayaks. When you visit make sure that you also stop by the wildlife exhibit to see the bison and swans and check out the Amateur Astronomers of Central Iowa to see when their next astronomy event will be held at Green Castle Recreation Area.

Timmons Grove, 1801 Marsh Ave, Marshalltown, IA 50158

This 205 acre forested recreational area in the Iowa River Greenbelt located on Highway 330 about one mile south of Albion.  The Iowa River splits Timmons Grove into two segments. The south segment is a wildlife refuge and also contains facilities for RV campers with 18 – 30 amp electrical hookups, hiking trail, a shelter house, primitive restroom, and boat ramp to the Iowa River. The north segment is open for public hunting and is managed for natural resources of wildlife and forestry. Hiking is allowed. Motor vehicles are restricted to designated parking areas. Deer, wild turkey, and squirrels are the most abundant game animals in the area.  

Three Bridges County Park, 2272 Three Bridges Rd, Marshalltown, IA 50158

The lake was restocked with bluegill, large-mouth bass, channel catfish and black crappie. This fishery will improve over the next few years. Several new fishing jetties were also constructed in 2014 as well as a boat ramp installed near the south end of the lake for easy access for canoes and kayaks.

When you visit make sure that you also stop by the wildlife exhibit to see the bison and swans and check out the Amateur Astronomers of Central Iowa to see when their next astronomy event will be held at Green Castle Recreation Area.

Marshalltown Speedway, 1308 E Olive St, Marshalltown, IA 50158 

¼ mile clay oval track. IMCA Sanctioned Late Models, Modifieds, Stock Cars, SportMods, Hobby Stocks, and Mod Lites.

Marshalltown Aquatic Center, 212 Washington St, Marshalltown, IA

Zero depth entry, play water features, water slides, drip slide, diving boards, eight lap lanes and a lazy river. Concessions available. Season passes, water walking/lap swim, adult/tot swim, daily admission, pool rentals, birthday splash parties.

Marshalltown YMCA, 108 Washington St, Marshalltown, IA (641) 752-8658

Fitness equipment, indoor pool, etc.

Theravada Dhamma Society of Iowa, 2942 240th St., Marshalltown, IA

A statue of the Buddha seated in the Bhumisparsha Mudra—at 5.5 meters tall, one of the largest Buddha statues in the United States, at the Theravada Dhamma Society’s (TDS) temple in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Valhalla Hatchets, 805 Main St, Belle Plaine, IA 

Premier pizza restaurant and hatchet throwing facility. Family owned and operated that offers beer, wine, soda, pizza, hatchet leagues, pool, karaoke and much more

Museums, Monuments & Cultural

Historical Society of Marshall County/Mowery Irvine 

A combination historical home, museum and historical and genealogy library, the Historical Society of Marshall County/Mowery Irvine has a surprise in store for all who walk through its doors. Take a tour of the home any day of the week to discover information about prominent Marshalltown citizens, work from local artists, period pieces and beautiful architectural details throughout each room.

Lincoln Highwa

The Lincoln Highway and Transcontinental Route covered the same ground across Iowa from Clinton to Council Bluffs. According to the Central Iowa Genealogical Society’s Web site, the Lincoln Highway in Iowa was in fact “informally known” as the Transcontinental Route, an auto trail which would never be officially registered with the IHC. The Lincoln Highway Bridge is located in Tama, Iowa, United States, along the historic Lincoln Highway. The Steel stringer bridge was built in 1914, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

➢ Historical Points of Interest & NRHP Buildings

Tama County Historical Society & Genealogical Library  

A must see for anyone interested in natural and cultural history pertaining to Tama County.  

Marshall County Courthouse

Built in 1886. The building was designed by John C. Cochrane, whose firm had designed the State Capitol Building in Des Moines. The courthouse was constructed using native limestone over brick. On November 21, 1972, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The courthouse was damaged in a tornado on July 19, 2018, which ripped the spire from the top of the building’s cupola.

Binford House, 1102 N 2nd Ave, Marshalltown, IA 50158 641-753-5450

The Thaddeus Binford House is located in Marshalltown, Iowa. The house was built in 1874 for Thaddeus Binford, a wealthy Quaker attorney, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1984.

Glick-Sower House, 201 E State St., Marshalltown IA 50158 641-752-6664

The Glick–Sower House, also known as the Susie Sower House, is located in Marshalltown, Iowa. The house was built in 1859 for Dr. George Glick and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1993. It is operated as a historic house museum by the Historical Society of Marshall County. Dr. Glick, an early founder and promoter of Marshalltown, sold his home to the George Sower family in 1870. George Sower emigrated from Germany in the 1840s and worked in the newspaper business, founding the Marshall Times, now known as the Marshalltown Times Republican. The home was owned by the Sower family until 1952, when Susie Sower willed the estate to the citizens of Marshall County

Quarry Bridge, Located just north of Three Bridges County Park

As Marshall County’s oldest originally placed wagon bridge, the Quarry Bridge is historically significant as an early wagon crossing.  The structure is further distinguished as a well-preserved example of the Whipple through truss. Built in 1885.

LeGrand Bridge

Located 1.3 miles north of LeGrand, the LeGrand Bridge spans a backwater of the Iowa River in a rural Marshall County setting that has changed little since the structure’s period of significance.  The LeGrand Bridge carried traffic as a major transportation link for over fifty years.  When the county later rechanneled the river and rerouted the road, the LeGrand Bridge was bypassed.  It now stands abandoned in deteriorating condition over a backwater of the river.

Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop and House, Haverhill, IA 641-752-6664

The Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop and House are historic buildings located in Haverhill, Iowa, United States. The complex includes the blacksmith shop from the early 1880s, a garage addition from 1915.

Belle Plaine Area Museum, 901 Main St., Belle Plaine, IA 52208 319-434-6093

The Belle Plaine Area Museum is located on the original Lincoln Highway route (1913-1937). The museum includes information not only on the Lincoln Highway, but also the Chicago Northwestern Railroad, Jumbo Well, and the Great Fire history.

➢ Food & Drink

Ice House, 1111 7th Ave, Belle Plaine, IA

Dine-in and drive-through with American Style food and lots of ice cream options. 

Lincoln Café, 1214 8th Ave, Belle Plaine, IA

Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with homemade soups and daily specials. 

Grand Central Station, 803 Main St, Belle Plaine, IA

Pub and bar in the heart of Belle Plaine.

Fire Box on Main, 813 Main St, Belle Plaine, IA

Texas BBQ serving lunch and dinner in a railroad themed restaurant.

O’Leary’s Office Tap, 825 12th St, Belle Plaine, IA

Hole in the wall Irish pub with a guaranteed good time. 

Benton County Brewing, 708 Main St, Belle Plaine, IA

Belle Plaine brewery that specializes in handcrafted brews that are unique, enjoyable and delicious!

Country Foods, 1206 7th Ave, Belle Plaine, IA

Belle Plaine market, great for high quality foods, low prices and local community connection. 

El Catrin, 1009 7th Ave, Belle Plaine, IA

Local Mexican restaurant with fresh ingredients and tasty drinks.