Central Iowa · Grownup Getaways

Meet us at Jefferson & Lincoln-Colo & the Corner

j hwy LH3

Colo, IA: Story County (Our 17th County!)

From coast to coast and from pines to palms. Many of the original “Great American Road Trips” originated on these historic treks called the Jefferson HWY and Lincoln HWY. Linking New York City with San Francisco is the Lincoln stretching across the US from East to West. Going North and South is the Jefferson, connecting Winnipeg with New Orleans. They both have to meet somewhere. That rendezvous point is right here in Iowa and the town of Colo has been the longtime caretaker of America’s corner. We were on our way to Fort Dodge and taking the “rose-smelling” route turned out to be a good call once again. A night in Colo, IA!

Where Jefferson and Lincoln high-five is the historic Reed/Niland Corner. A road trip must-stop! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Reed-Niland-Corner/302298883134667
Where Jefferson and Lincoln high-five is the historic Reed/Niland Corner. A road trip must-stop!
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Reed-Niland-Corner/302298883134667

We had a 3 hour trip to Fort Dodge to scout our 4th town in our RAGBRAI series, so we thought we would descend on to Webster County the night before and keep our eyes peeled for more Gallivant opportunities. 2 hours into our trip and we had our spot. The Reed/Niland neon lights were illuminating the rural Story County skyline and we couldn’t resist. Dinner and sleeping accommodations were all but set up for us within minutes of arrival. A Colo tradition for decades.

Time to unwind at Niland's Cafe and get the skinny on the motel next door.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nilands-Cafe/115980305097923?fref=ts
Time to unwind at Niland’s Cafe and get the skinny on the motel next door.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nilands-Cafe/115980305097923?fref=ts

Niland’s Cafe and Museum. That was not a typo. If you had no idea of how important this intersection is, you will by the time you get that piece of pie down. Which Niland’s has plenty of. Made fresh of course!

Meet tonight's dedicated crew. Emma Young (Left) was our server and owner/operator/hotel keep/property curator and all around kick-butt Colo historian is Sandra Huemann-Kelly.
Meet tonight’s dedicated crew. Emma Young (Left) was our server and owner/operator/hotel keep/property curator and all around kick-butt Colo historian is Sandra Huemann-Kelly.
Why, yes Emma...I would love a cold one. And that will due nicely. Millstream brew Root Beer style from Amana, IA. Float that daddy up! http://www.millstreambrewing.com/
Why, yes Emma…I would love a cold one. And that will due nicely. Millstream brew Root Beer style from Amana, IA. Float that daddy up!
http://www.millstreambrewing.com/
A view from for our table. Unlike the Kool-Aid Man, this Cadillac has a much more calming way to bust through the wall.
A view from for our table. Unlike the Kool-Aid Man, this Cadillac has a much more calming way to bust through the wall.
The classic Midwestern delight that screams out Iowa to any road warrior passing through. Hot Roast Beef Sandwich topped with wheel barrel full of gravy and served over........homemade...mashed potatoes. Homemade mashers. Colo has proven its oasis distinction on this alone.
The classic Midwestern delight that screams out Iowa to any road warrior passing through. Hot Roast Beef Sandwich on white bread, topped with a wheelbarrow full of gravy and served over……..homemade…mashed potatoes. Homemade mashers. Colo has proven its oasis distinction on this alone.
One of the display cases throughout the dining room of Niland's Cafe. No TV sets here. Just an absolute wealth of local and national history to soak up.
One of the display cases throughout the dining room of Niland’s Cafe. No TV sets here. Just an absolute wealth of local and national history to soak up.

While Emma took great care of us and our meals, Sandra prepped our room bill while we ate. We we’re handed the check and room key at the same time. Along with a copy of the Iowan Magazine that had a wonderful article about the very place we stopped in at.

http://www.iowan.com/

Not the kind of bill you see at your diner table very much anymore. We live in a world that is demanding more and more expeditious service on everything. We forget that places like this existed and are still very much at your service.
Not the kind of bill you see at your diner table very much anymore. We live in a world that is demanding more and more expeditious service on everything. We forget that places like this existed and are still very much at your service. And yes they have free WiFi. Notice how the pie was added after we committed to the room. Now, how do I figure out the tip?
The average shot-put attempt goes further than the space between the backdoor to Niland's and the front door to your room at the Colo Motel.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Colo-Motel/115108775243188?fref=ts
The average shot-put attempt goes further than the space between the backdoor to Niland’s and the front door to your room at the Colo Motel.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Colo-Motel/115108775243188?fref=ts
A view of the grounds at the Colo Motel. peppered throughout the property, like old fashioned mile markers, are historical facts about the seen at the bottom of the picture. You can take a self guided walk through
A view of the grounds at the Colo Motel. peppered throughout the property, like old fashioned mile markers, are historical facts about the seen at the bottom of the picture. You can take a self guided walk through “The Corner” and read about the history and significance of these paths crossing.
A closeup of the Reed/Niland historical mile markers.
A closeup of the Reed/Niland historical mile markers.
Also on the self guided tour is this original Jefferson HWY monument.
Also on the self guided tour is this original Jefferson HWY monument.
We have a long day of RAGBRAI scouting the next day and we need our slumber. The Colo Motel had welcoming decor and provided a quiet and very comfortable nights sleep for us.
We have a long day of RAGBRAI scouting the next day and we need our slumber. The Colo Motel had welcoming decor and provided a quiet and very comfortable nights sleep for us. Monie likes blankets. A lot…..

A very light rain crept in overnight and we enjoyed the coolness it brought in the morning. We took another stroll around the grounds when Sandra caught up with us. It was 7:00am and she was primed to give us a tour of the historic Reed filling station next door. 7:00am. She was helping to clean up her restaurant at 9:00pm the night before and checking in guests. Sandra is officially on The Iowa Gallivant starting lineup. We’re not sure what the lineup is, but she’s making a run at team cap’n!

The classic filling station being preserved in Colo, IA. The owner and longtime operator was Charlie Reed. His station was his castle and he pumped gas, fixed flats, orederd and installed parts, washed windshields and charmed thousands of road-trippers for many, many years.
The classic filling station being preserved in Colo, IA. The owner and longtime operator was Charlie Reed. His station was his castle and he pumped gas, fixed flats, ordered and installed parts, washed windshields, and charmed thousands of road-trippers for many, many years.
Not much has changed at Charlie's desk since he made his last order of motor oil at the historic Reed/Niland Corner.
Not much has changed at Charlie’s desk since he made his last order of motor oil at the historic Reed/Niland Corner.
That's right, kids. There was a time that gas stations didn't have rolling hot dogs, energy drinks and imitation iPhone chargers.
That’s right, kids. There was a time that gas stations didn’t have rolling hot dogs, energy drinks, and imitation iPhone chargers. You paid for your gas, picked up an updated road map and asked the guy at the attendant about what “Ike” was going to do next.

The Reed filling station still had the musk of tires and engine grease. Something I hope is preserved for a few more generations. Charlie has long passed away, but he is still very much apart of this area. His humbled home is still across the street and Niland’s tends to bake his favorite molasses cookies from time to time. I wouldn’t be surprised if locals still hear the bell randomly going off at Reed’s. However our inner breakfast bell was going off and we knew Sandra had the grill ready to go for our second meal at Niland’s Cafe. We discovered even more of its history than we did the night before.

Perhaps the breakfast of champions in yesteryear. Niland's has evolved and found some new specialties.
Perhaps the breakfast of champions in yesteryear. Niland’s has evolved and found some new specialties.
Give your thanks to a Boy Scouts troop that traveled the country and volunteering their time to put up mile markers throughout America's highway system. One of the surviving members was invited back to Colo many years later to celebrate the centennial celebration of the highway that was platted the same year he was born.
Give your thanks to a Boy Scouts troop that traveled the country and volunteering their time to put up mile markers throughout America’s highway system. One of the surviving members was invited back to Colo many years later to celebrate the centennial celebration of the highway that was platted the same year he was born.

IMG_1102

One of the mile markers that the focused scouts placed is still overlooking the Reed/Niland Corner in Colo, IA.
One of the mile markers that the focused scouts placed is still overlooking the Reed/Niland Corner in Colo, IA.

We admired the dedication and attention that the Colo crew exuded during our visit. The large museums in Iowa’s highest populated cities and universities are very important and should get as much support as possible. However, even some the most notable historian and curators know that the preservation of our past depends on the folks that cling to the artifacts and the unique education that is tucked away in the small Iowa towns and communities. Many of their precious time capsules are willing to open their doors upon reservation, giving intimate tours to history buffs a handful at a time. The Reed and Niland families have welcomed countless travelers to Colo and their values and ethic is still the best exhibit you’ll see here everyday.

Jefferson and Lincoln at the Colo crossroads.
Jefferson and Lincoln at the Colo crossroads.

Please take time to visit…….

http://www.iowatourism.com/
http://www.iowatourism.com/
http://www.traveliowa.com/ https://www.facebook.com/IowaTourism?fref=ts https://twitter.com/Travel_Iowa
http://www.traveliowa.com/
https://www.facebook.com/IowaTourism?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/Travel_Iowa
Advertisements

13 thoughts on “Meet us at Jefferson & Lincoln-Colo & the Corner

    1. I’m going to be writing my visit to Van Buren county. Would you like me to include a link to your blog under the picture of the plaque describing the confederate general from Betonsport?

      Like

      1. Hi, Jayjay. Thanks for your kind offer! It’s also a nice idea. There’s a slight problem, though. I don’t include General Sullivan “Sul” Ross as an Iowa resident, and hence as a Confederate from Iowa. I don’t include him because he left Iowa for Texas when he was a toddler. I only count men who were at least 13 years old when they lived in Iowa. Please let me know if you have any comments or questions for me. I appreciate your interest!

        Like

  1. Was aware of this little gem & its history but your article provided more info & makes me want to make a trip north from Carthage MO – another stop along the Jefferson Highway.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s