Family Adventures · Iowa Icons · Southeast Iowa · Unincorporated Iowa

Van Buren Village Hopping: Part 1-Chief Black Hawk & the Banks of Bentonsport

The swift moving Des Moines River passing its longtime neighbor of Betonsport, IA.
The swift-moving Des Moines River passing its longtime neighbors of Bentonsport and Vernon, IA.

Villages of Van Buren County, IA (Our 18th County!)

Memorial Day weekend had the entire state of Iowa busting at the seams with opportunities for a Team Goodvin getaway. We opted to take a trip to one of the most scenic and historic areas in our homeland. The dart landed on Van Buren County and we were ready for another excursion. It was our first trip to this part of Southeastern Iowa and it was only an hour from our headquarters in Hills. It was also in the middle of the annual Iowa trip for Grandma and Grandpa from Austin, TX. And they love them some Iowa exploring too. Time to hopscotch our way through beautiful Van Buren County!

First stop....Betonsport!
First stop….Bentonsport!

We strolled into Bentonsport and the small town along the Des Moines River was packed with locals and tourists alike taking in their annual craft show and flea market. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for the day and because of that, Bentonsport was bustling. From jewelry to furniture to haunted buildings to giant smoked turkey legs, Bentonsport was bringing the variety.

An Iowa Gallivant salute to the Villages of Van Buren. The turkey was as delicious as it looks!
An Iowa Gallivant salute to the Villages of Van Buren. The turkey was as delicious as it looks! Bentonsport enlisted some help from some local food carts to feed the masses and they knew how to bring the quality to their mobile kitchens.
The Iowa classic! Our Texan visitors search one of these out with every return trip.
The Iowa classic! Our Texan visitors search one of these out with every return trip.
A big basket of cheesy tater ribbons. Freshly pealed russets and tossed into the fryer. This some nice preparation for the Iowa State Fair in August.
A big basket of cheesy tater ribbons. Freshly pealed russets and tossed into the fryer. This is some nice preparation for the Iowa State Fair in August.

The town of Bentonsport, along many other Van Buren towns, was platted right next to the Des Moines River and gives your visit some amazing scenery that rivals any river community in the country. The area is rich with history that can be seen all around you in plain sight.

Main Street Betonsport, IA. Modern day food trucks keep the tourists fed while the historic buildings, across the street, house shoppes that were loaded with customers.
Main Street Bentonsport, IA. Modern day food trucks keep the tourists fed while the historic buildings, across the street, house shoppes that were loaded with customers.
Betonsport does a great job of explaining the history of each of their historic buildings. Rest easy, Ira. Your home is still in good hands.
Bentonsport does a great job of explaining the history of each of their historic buildings. Rest easy, Ira. Your home is still in good hands.
It's up to you to figure out which part of Iron & Lace suits you best.
It’s up to you to figure out which part of Iron & Lace suits you best.
The common theme inside the Betonsport shopping scene for the day. Wall to wall merchandise and customers who wanted it!
The common theme inside the Bentonsport shopping scene for the day. Wall to wall merchandise and customers who wanted it!
You knew we would figure out how to find this place. They knew how to keep up with the busy demand of fudge, cookies and everything a grandparent can spoil you with.
You knew we would figure out how to find this place. They knew how to keep up with the busy demand of fudge, cookies, and everything a grandparent can spoil you with.
An old fashion checkers dual broke out on the deck. Two worthy adversaries bringing their  A-game to Betonsport.
An old-fashioned checkers dual broke out on the deck. Two worthy adversaries bringing their A-game to Bentonsport.

We filled up and shopped Bentonsport. Next it was time to take in the craft show and flea market. During the walk there, we had plenty of scenery to absorb. Bentonsport may be a small unincorporated town, but it has more than enough to keep you occupied. Just spending a day on its river banks can give you a full day of unique memories. Like that turkey leg. Remember that? I’m still thinking about it.

Their gardens are strating to come in bloom and will only get better as the summer rolls on.
Their gardens are starting to come in bloom and will only get better as the summer rolls on.
The entrance had the feeling of stepping into a peaceful grotto. That is if remember to duck.
The entrance to the Rose Garden had the feeling of stepping into a peaceful grotto. That is if you remember to duck.
Connecting Betonsport to Vernon is an old railroad bridge turned into a walking bridge.
Connecting Bentonsport to Vernon is an old railroad bridge turned into a walking bridge.
Taking in the view from the Betonsport bridge is Team Good-Nandez!
Taking in the view from the Bentonsport bridge is Team Good-Nandez!
Before hitting up the flea market we stopped into the Mason House Inn. Known for it's haunting, ghost hunters from all over the country have stopped in and stayed at the Inn.   http://www.masonhouseinn.com/
Before hitting up the flea market, we stopped into the Mason House Inn. Known for it’s haunting, ghost hunters from all over the country have stopped in and stayed at the Inn.
http://www.masonhouseinn.com/
Did you think we were kidding? Chris Moon will be doing his own investigation of the Mason House Inn. Whether your a skeptic or not, ghost hunters are some of the best historians you can meet. There's the details you can find in the media and general records. And there's the stories that only the locals know.
Did you think we were kidding? Chris Moon will be doing his own investigation of the Mason House Inn. Whether your a skeptic or not, ghost hunters are some of the best historians you can meet. There’s the details you can find in the media and general records. And there’s the stories that only the locals know.
You don't see craftsmanship like this at the mall! The folks from Make It Old Iron take everyday farming and gardening implements and turn them into sturdy pieces of furniture. Their shop is located in Centerville, IA and you can call Flint & Carla Wahl at 641-895-0077.
You don’t see craftsmanship like this at the mall! The folks from Make It Old Iron take everyday farming and gardening implements and turn them into sturdy pieces of furniture and mailboxes. Their shop is located in Centerville, IA and you can call Flint & Carla Wahl at 641-895-0077.
Leah's attention immediately directed to Pen To Glass Creations. Penny Smith is the owner and creator of hundreds of beautiful glass works and located in Danville, IA. 319-671-3104
Leah’s attention immediately directed to Pen To Glass Creations. Penny Smith is the owner and creator of hundreds of beautiful glass works and located in Danville, IA.
319-671-3104

Bentonsport produced a perfect late-morning for us and our village hopping was just starting. All seven of us had something that we wanted to see and experience while we were in Van Buren County. Having fun and enjoying the weekend was our mission, but it was still Memorial Day weekend. Near the small town of Selma, IA was a place that I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time. We journeyed our way to pay our respect to Chief Black Hawk.

Leah was also anxious to visit his grave site so that she could include it to her end of the year school report. Iowa has a long history and it would be impossible to accurately describe it without including Black Hawk. To show our respect, we placed 4 cigars on his memorial and paused as we listened to Black Hawk’s countryside. Leah has inherited her Dad’s love of history and felt a positive impact visiting the great chief. A few tears rolled down her nine year old cheeks as she took a moment to herself at his burial to say a few genuine words in private. Leah then approached me and hugged her as she cleaned her eyes. She thanked me for taking her to Iowaville and we said goodbye to Black Hawk.

IMG_1343
You’ve found clue 1 of 8! Click HERE to go back to the Scavenger Hunt page to see the next clue!
Chief Black Hawk. Born in Saukenuk, IL. Died in Davis County, IA and laid to rest near Selma, IA.
Chief Black Hawk. Born in Saukenuk, IL. Died in Davis County, IA and laid to rest near Selma, IA.

In just a few hours we experienced an unbelievable amount of Iowa history and there was so much more to see in Van Buren County. Two villages down and three more were on our list to visit. Our early lunch was starting to wear off and, lucky for us, Monie was given a flyer near the town of Bonaparte. Soon we would be diving into one of the most memorable family meals we’ve ever scarfed down. And it was all prepared by a local family on their farm and near their bakery. An Amish supper for the ages……

Charlie's jaw dropped when he saw the menu and I knew we weren't leaving Van Buren County until we stopped by the Sunrise Bakery in rural Bonaparte. See on you part 2!
Charlie’s jaw dropped when he saw the menu and I knew we weren’t leaving Van Buren County until we stopped by the Sunrise Bakery in rural Bonaparte. See the rest in part 2!

Please take time to visit……

http://villagesofvanburen.com/ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Villages-of-Van-Buren/317602680147?fref=ts https://twitter.com/VillagesofVB
http://villagesofvanburen.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Villages-of-Van-Buren/317602680147?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/VillagesofVB
http://www.easterniowatourism.org/
http://www.easterniowatourism.org/
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

12 thoughts on “Van Buren Village Hopping: Part 1-Chief Black Hawk & the Banks of Bentonsport

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