Tag Archives: small town america

Most midwesterners can tell you a thing or two about corn, but did you know that we like to get lost in it too? Every fall, we look forward to pumpkins, changing leaves, cool autumn nights, and you guessed it—corn mazes!

Examples of mazes used in gardening and tiles.

History of Mazes

Mazes and labyrinths date back some 4000 years ago to the time of Ancient Greece and Rome. They were seen as artwork and thought to help realize one’s purpose, a type of self-awakening that one could find while being lost within the maze. Unlike corn mazes, which are cut into a pattern or theme each year, garden mazes were cut into geometric patterns (think of the labyrinth in The Shining). Those same geometric motifs can also be seen in ancient tiles, art, and more.

Bird’s eye view of a maze pattern cut into a corn field.

The First Corn Maze

Corn mazes don’t date back nearly as far as ancient labyrinths—the first corn maze was built in 1993 by Don Frantz and Adrian Fisher in Annville, Pennsylvania, on 3 acres on land and almost 2 miles of paths. It also received the title of “World’s Largest Corn Maze” by Guinness Book of World Records (which has now been held by the Cool Patch Pumpkins for their 60-acre maze in Dixon, CA since 2014).

Popular around Halloween, haunted corn mazes are sure to get your blood pumping!

Haunted Corn Mazes

Looking for a little more excitement? No problem, there are haunted corn mazes too! Hosted at night, carefully walk through the dimly lit pathways and hold your breath while you approach the next turn—you never know what or who will pop out!

Here are some of our favorite corn mazes so whether you’re coming to see us in Iowa or Tennessee, you can get in on the corny fun!

-Pride of the Wapsi – Long Grove, Iowa

-Schuster’s Pumpkin Patch and Maze – Dubuque, Iowa

-Shuckles Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch – Greenbrier, Tennessee

-Lucky Lad Farms – Eagleville, Tennessee

Do you plan on visiting a corn maze this season? Tell us about your local corn maze in the comments!


If you find yourself taking the pilgrimage to visit us out in LeClaire, Iowa—-we have the perfect road trip for you to take! Our shop in LeClaire sits right on the Historic Great River Road—-a National Scenic Byway that stretches from northern Minnesota all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico—winding through 10 states, 3000 miles, and countless small river towns.

Created in 1938, the Great River Road National Scenic Byway is the longest designated roadway and one of the oldest at that! A lot like other famous byways; the Blue Ridge Parkway and Route 66 for example—the Great River Road has received an All-American Road designation. In order for a roadway to receive such a title it must be nationally special and feature one-of-a-kind sights and experiences that do not exist elsewhere. The idea is that the roadway itself is the destination, pretty cool, right? 

@greatriverroad / @visitleclaire

The Great River Road is made up with a series of different roads and highways that roughly follow every bend and curve of the mighty Mississippi River (look for the white signs displaying the green pilot’s wheel logo). The entire route takes about 36 hours of straight driving but one of our favorite sections of the Great River Road is just a couple hours drive starting from our shop in LeClaire and takes you up north to the “Driftless” areas of Iowa. These areas, unlike most of the Upper Midwest were bypassed by the last continental glaciation—which left rolling hills, underground water sources, caves, bluffs, and made way for the Mississippi and surrounding rivers and creeks. Welcome to the Great River Road, the Main Streets of the Mississippi!

@ekilburg / @justasboredasme

Bellevue, Iowa

Imagine driving down the highway with rolling green hills and fields, speckled with grazing cattle and horses and then right before you eyes—the scenery shifts. You’re now looking right at the Mississippi River lined with trees and cliffs. This is Bellevue, Iowa which actually means “beautiful view.” This gorgeous little river town has a population of about 3k and is a true Iowan hidden gem. Take in the sights from the towering bluffs at Bellevue State Park—the perfect spot for family hiking and camping! And after working up an appetite, grab a seat at Richman’s Cafe for some mouth watering comfort food. Our favorite is their breakfast burritos and don’t forget a slice of pie (a la mode of course). 


Guttenberg, Iowa

Guttenberg is most known for its well preserved pre and post civil war architecture. Especially, the large number of limestone structures dating from before the Civil War and some built as early as the mid-1840’s! Not only is the architecture historical here but so is the history of the Mississippi River! Lock and Dam No. 10 is located in Guttenberg and  is also home to the sole remaining lock master house on its original site on the Upper Mississippi River. Now a museum, the Lockmaster’s House was where the lock master of Lock & Dam No. 10 was required to live! Tour the home and imagine what it was like to oversee this section of the mighty Mississippi! Another favorite spot of ours is the Guttenberg Gallery & Creativity Center—a local gallery that supports local artists by exhibiting and selling their work! It also doubles as a community art studio for children and adults. During May-August, enjoy the “Paint Your Own Pottery” studio and much more!


Dubuque, Iowa

For most Iowans, Dubuque needs no introduction. This city is well known for it’s family fun experiences, historic sites, art museums, theaters, etc.! It’s also home to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium—a family favorite that melds together river history, science, & wildlife for a one of a kind experience! See just how big catfish can get in the Mississippi and Pilot a river boat, all in one visit! Located directly across the river in Dubuque, IL is home to one of our favorites, Timmerman’s Supper Club. Grab a drink and let’s keep traveling north!


McGregor, Iowa

One of Mike’s favorite Iowan towns, McGregor is a must see. This town features one-of-a-kind sights like the Effigy Mounds National Monument. Here they have preserved more than 200 prehistoric mounds built by pre-Columbian Mound Builder cultures. Numerous mounds are shaped like animals; including bears and birds. Get a birds eye view of the Mississippi from a 500 foot bluff at Pikes Peak State Park—-you can also hike and camp this park and take in all of the natural beauty of this Driftless area. Maybe something a little more spooky is what you’re looking for—-let’s go to Spook Cave Campground!

@spookcavecampground @papermoonmcgregor

Don’t be fooled by the name, Spook Cave is far more fun than scary! This is a flooded cave that was discovered in 1953 and opened for business in 1955. Here you can rent a cabin or hut and enjoy the great outdoor with fishing, swimming, paddling, hiking, boat rides through Spook Cave, and relaxing around a campfire. Don’t forget to explore downtown McGregor too! Go back in time at River Junction Trade Co.—-which specializes in old west clothing, dry goods, accessories, and more! Another favorite shop of ours is Paper Moon—shop a unique selection of gifts and books we guarantee you’ll love. 


Marquette, Iowa

Out last stop on our Great River Road Trip has a population of just 429 and is known as “Iowa’s Best Kept Secret.” Nestled right in the bluffs of the Mississippi, this area boasts numerous outdoor activities like; fishing, angling, hiking, camping, and more. Learn more about this unique topographical area at the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre—they host fun, interactive educational experiences for families of all ages! Also, don’t miss the Marquette Depot Museum an learn all about this town’s railroad history and historic railroad artifacts! 


Stop & Take a Photo – It’s National Camera Day!

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Children at the FSA Camelback Farms inspect the photographer’s camera. Phoenix, Arizona, 1942 – Russell Lee

Not many things have changed history in quite the way that the camera has. Walking around with one in our pocket thanks to those handy smart phones, they may be easy to take for granted in 2015. Every year, on June 29th, however, we’re all encouraged to stop and appreciate what it means to be able to “capture” all those moments that until 1839, quickly slipped away.

We have Louis Jacques Daguerre to thank for starting it. He took the first fixed image that didn’t fade all the way back in 1839. We have George Eastman to thank for creating flexible film that could be rolled, leading to the sale of the first Kodak in 1888. In the years that followed, we’ve seen the introduction of the first “affordable” 35mm cameras, and then in the middle of the 20th century, the introduction of what could be one of the most fondly remembered cameras of all… the Polaroid. In 1948, the world’s first instant-picture camera was born with no development needed, and the well-recognized act of impatiently shaking the photo while waiting for it to process began! Who would have ever guessed back then that by the late 1980’s our cameras would be digital and just over 20 years later, every phone we carry would allow us to instantly grab a shot of all the little moments of lives, much less instantly publish them online for the world to see!

It’s national camera day TODAY so take a few moments to give a thought or two to just how far we’ve come… and then take a few photos to share!



The History of Father’s Day – The Holiday That Almost Wasn’t

Having been a recognized day of celebration for just over 100 years in the United States, Father’s Day is a relatively new tradition. Inspired by Mother’s Day, Father’s Day began in the early 20th century, but, believe it or not, was not embraced with nearly as much enthusiasm in those early years.

history of fathers day vintage ad
1940s USA Father’s Day Cards Magazine Plate Picture: Courtesy of The Advertising Archives

Where Did Father’s Day Begin?

There are varying opinions of where and when the very first Father’s Day Celebration took place in the US. It is, however, largely accepted that we can credit Ms. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd for its eventual widespread success. Her inspiration was her own father, a Civil War Veteran who, having lost his wife during the birth of their sixth child, became a single parent responsible for a newborn and five other children. Having been raised by this dedicated and loving father, at 27, Sonora Louise Smart Dodd took up the cause of campaigning for a celebration of fatherhood that was equal to that of Mother’s Day. She first suggested the holiday in Spokane, WA in 1909 and then led that city’s first Father’s Day celebration at the YMCA of Spokane in June 1910. It wasn’t until 1930’s however, the holiday began have some traction at the national level.

What Makes Father’s Day the Holiday that Almost Wasn’t?

In the 1930’s, as Sonora Louise Smart Dodd was seeking to raise awareness for Father’s Day at the national level, she did so with the support of trade groups that would benefit commercially from the holiday – the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes and any other traditional presents for fathers. Many men viewed the holiday as unnecessary and commercial in the early years. One historian has been quoted as saying that men “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.” The holiday held on, though, probably less because of the efforts of merchants and advertisers and more because of the love of joy seen in a child’s eyes when they pick out just the right tie for the male hero in their life. It took some time, but in 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon finally signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday.

vintage fathers day artwork
1950s USA Daughters Hugging Father Magazine Plate Picture: Courtesy of The Advertising Archives


Get Outside!

June is National Great Outdoors Month


Few things are as American as the State and National parks that represent our natural heritage, and June is a whole month dedicated to exploring them! What started as Great Outdoors Week by Presidential Proclamation under President Clinton in 1998 has been expanded to a month long event through the support of Presidents following him. Full of events like National Trails Day, National Get Outdoors Day, the Great American Campout and more, there is no lack of opportunities for you to hook up your trailer (if you’re lucky you have one of these 1952 Airstreams) and get outdoors!

Find events near you here.


great outdoors month antique archaeology


Nashville Fashion Alliance

It Starts in Nashville But Means So Much More

Everyone who lives in one of America’s small towns or spends time visiting them is aware of the way they have been impacted by the decline in American manufacturing. Perhaps nowhere is it more apparent than visiting towns that were built long ago around facilities creating American made clothing. In Nashville, a group of dedicated people are working to revive that industry.Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 4.26.15 PM

Nashville Fashion Alliance has come together not just to fill in the gaps for the growing fashion industry in Nashville, but also to develop a model that has the potential to revitalize America’s small towns across the country. Having successfully reached their initial Kickstarter campaign funding goals, they are one step closer to bridging the gap between the Nashville local creative community and area manufacturing resources that can meet their production needs. NFA is out to prove that we CAN bring manufacturing back to American communities!

We All Want to See Apparel Manufacturing Return to US Shores, But Where Does It Start?

It starts where many things start, with education and awareness. People have to understand how their buying choices effect the industry at large and choose to shop local and American Made when they can. Communities have to invest in the education and training of people to work in the apparel industry and recognize the value of that business to their area. Nashville Fashion Alliance, knowing education, awareness, and training are key, are conducting studies on economic impact and they are partnering with local community organizations to provide training and development to people who need the opportunity to enter the apparel industry workforce.

What Can The Success of Nashville Fashion Alliance Mean For Small Town America?

NFA is poised to execute a program in their city that can be duplicated across the country to support the efforts of bringing similar manufacturing jobs back home. Supporting their efforts is supporting job creation in the places so many of us hold dear.

What Can You Do To Help?

Read more about their efforts, spread the word, and stay up to date on their struggles and successes.

Further Reading:

The Tennessean – imogene + willie – Nashville Scene

Follow Nashville Fashion Alliance Online:

Website and Facebook

Contact NFA

Van Tucker // CEO Nashville Fashion Alliance //Van@NashvilleFashionAlliance.com

Nashville Local Fashion Designers – imogene + willie

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Yve Assad Motorcycle Photography

Documenting Life’s Adventures in Travel & Moto Photos

Mike Wolfe American Picker, Two Lanes blog, motorcycle photography, marathon village, vintage motorcycle
Photo By Yve Assad. Setting courtesy of Marathon Village, home of Antique Archaeology Nashville.

Yve Assad is a photographer after our own hearts. Based in Nashville, TN and shooting commercial, editorial & fine art photography, specializing in motorcycles & travel, Yve deems herself to be a photographer by land & air. She is just that. Life’s adventures on the road are hard to truly capture, but Yve has a knack for documenting two wheeled travel & lifestyle in a stunning yet honest way. Check out some of our favorites.

dan auerbach_lucky riders_ Yve Assad,Mike Wolfe American Picker, Two Lanes blog, motorcycle photography,
Photo by Yve Assad. Dan Auerbach with The Lucky Riders.

Above is Dan Auerbach with the Lucky Riders. See more of the Lucky Riders’ adventures on the road on the Two Lanes Blog here, where you can take a glimpse into their Mississippi Delta trip in photos.

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Photo by Yve Assad. Blackbirds, Nashville, TN.

A beloved subject of Yve’s motorcycle lifestyle work, she profiled Nashville’s BlackBird Moto Assembly for readers of The Mighty Motor. Read how they started & take a look at more of Yve’s work online here.

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Photo by Yve Assad

Want Yve to document your adventures? Commission her here. You can also follow her on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1Kgacx1 and on Instagram here. Word of warning though. Her work may inspire wanderlust and motorcycle shopping.

Mike Wolfe American Picker, Two Lanes blog, motorcycle photography, vintage motorcycle, yve assad
Photo by Yve Assad

All Photos Copyright Yve Assad Photography.


 National Odometer Day – May 12

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National Odometer Day is celebrated each year on May 12.

Who knew that there’s a day to celebrate the odometer? More than likely, you’re aware that an odometer is an instrument that indicates the distance traveled by a vehicle, but there is an interesting fact about this little car clock that hints at what we think is most important about it.

Where & when did the odometer come to be?

Odometer comes from the Greek words hodos meaning path or gateway andmetron, meaning measure. You may be surprised to learn that they were actually first developed in the 1600′s for wagons and other horse-drawn vehicles in order to measure distances traveled. Those little gadgets have been around way longer than vehicles we travel in today. As for the modern odometer, the first one for automobiles appeared in 1903, was developed by Arthur P. and Charles H. Warner of Beloit, Wisconsin, and was patented as the “Auto-Meter”.

What do we think is the most interesting odometer tidbit?

In some countries, an odometer is called a mileometer, milometer or tripometer. We’re thinking that maybe we’ll start calling ours a “tripometer” too, because it’s not the distance travelled that matters the most, but the things seen, people met, and memories made with every trip you take.

Happy Odometer Day! Tick off some miles on your trip-ometer today and we’ll see ya on the back roads!

 Photo courtesy of @mikewolfeamericanpicker Instagram. Follow Mike here for more shots from the backroads.