2021 T-Bone Trail · Iowa Food · Museums and History · Southwest Iowa

Finding Legends in SW-Iowa: Page County’s Memorable Museums & Meals

*The southern border of Iowa features many great communities and important state history. The southwestern area is full of hilly drives and a lot of rural settings you’ll never forget. There’s also some really wonderful towns that feature great restaurants, museums, business districts, and modern hotels. Our visit was sponsored by the Clarinda Chamber of Commerce. Some of the goods, services, and meals were complimentary. The views expressed in this blog post are of our own. Now, let’s Gallivant!

Where could I be when I say to meet me on the corner of Baker and Miller? Sounds like Clarinda, Iowa to me!

Page County, Iowa

Bring me to SW-Iowa anytime of year and especially when the sun is shining in the amazing skies of this region of the Midwest. This area of Iowa is one of the most winding, rolling, uniquely scenic and loaded with up and down blacktop’ed county roads that callout for exploration. What’s great about these wide open rural adventures is that you’re sure to find yourself driving into wonderful hubs like Clarinda, Iowa. That’s exactly how I traveled Page County and that’s one of my favorite styles of road tripping!

Breakfast Time

The most important meal of the day. The ice coffee and copious amounts of caffeine course. Then there’s breakfast….
Then came the the second course that was on the fluffy and rich spectrum of breakfast!

Garrison House is on the town square of Clarinda and knows how to keep the mornings refreshing and their biscuits and gravy served oh-so hot. I love it when a big plate of biscuits topped with creamy sausage gravy hits the table. That’s distinct sound that I can hear from a mile away. What’s this square have for lunch? Let’s fast forward!

The pizza and steakhouse combo is an Iowa staple when it come’s to restaurants in Iowa!
Meaty, cheesy, and loving every minute of it!

J’s Pizza & Steak House is another town square-Clarinda establishment that the locals love, and they keep steering visitors to it every year. A classic family operated restaurant and featuring some of the best pizza I’ve had in my travels with The Iowa Gallivant. That cheese loves to get some stretching in before you work out those jaws while enjoying it! You know what….We’re already on the square so lets walk a couple blocks down and see one of Clarinda’s beautiful museums!

Museums & History

Carnegie library turned into a local museum with a very impressive rotation of exhibits.

Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum is an impressive example of how you can repurpose a historic building and make it as beautiful and relevant as ever. Make time for a visit here when you find yourself in SW-Iowa! Just watch the video below and see one of the interactive pieces of artwork that Clarinda had showcased on this day!

Beautifully constructed and with amazing detail on each piece. That’s a fun way this museum can keep anyone entertained when they’re here.
We showed up on a day that was featuring pieces from India and the venue was unbelievable!

Indian painters, sculptors, photographers, and artists of many styles had their work presented to the public in SW-Iowa during our Gallivant to Page County. Every piece of artwork has a story to tell and these traveled over oceans to get onto the walls and hardwood floors of Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum.

My favorite exhibit was the photographs of these Indian fisherman. The stories they had of their adventures and plights were inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.
There was at least one elephant on display in Clarinda on this day!

Local history and it’s wonders is a lure that pulls me in during countless road trips we’ve taken throughout my life. There is no way you’re getting out of Clarinda and not seeing, or hearing a Glenn Miller reference. One of America’s most iconic figures, in the Big Band era, and he was born right here in Clarinda, Iowa.

Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum is a wonderful facility that celebrates the treasure that was Glenn Miller. You’ll want to click here and see updates on the annual Glenn Miller festival!

Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum is within a Clarinda neighborhood which gives it a perfect setting. This was Miller’s hometown and the grounds gives you that “right at home” feeling. You get a sense of how the atmosphere might have been like in those early days and how a future master musician may have been getting his first memories here in Clarinda.

Inside you’re met by Mr. Glenn Miller himself. Detailed sculpture with his trusted trombone and grinning at you wearing his US Army issued uniform.
This museum honors Big Band artists that would have been contemporaries of Glenn Miller during this amazing time period of music. These stars were enjoyed by millions and especially by troops in warzones abroad. And look at me just slipping into the lineup of talent! I always wanted to be a model for Chesterfield….
Artifacts and plenty of photo ops at the Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum!
Glenn Miller will always be an international superstar. He’s still inspiring musicians decades later after his untimely death in WWII. And as you can see, he was also a record breaker. Glenn Miller was awarded the first ever Solid Gold Record! That’s another way you can take the Chattanooga Choo Choo to Clarinda, Iowa!

There’s a lot of stories of superstars, in all fields, who stepped-up and entered the service during WWII. Glenn Miller was on top of the charts and could have easily stayed stateside and continued his life in the studios and venues of America during wartime. No one would have faulted him for that at all. He was in his 40s and at the top of his career. Instead he suited up and did what he could for the war effort. And he did what he could do best. Organizing shows for the troops and keep spirits up whenever he performed and recorded. In person, on the radio waves, and on the record players. Somewhere in the English Channel, still during the war years, is where a plane went down that had Glenn Miller as a passenger, and the Big Band era lost one of its most important figures. He died honoring his commitment to his country in an unfortunate accident that shocked everyone who saw the news come in. He had decades of energy left in him, but he was a soldier. Not one who was firing off a rifle in close contact with the enemy. His sidearm was a trombone and a platoon of talent that kept the souls of our troops refilled with hope when their music and singing could be heard.

Just a short walk from the museum is the actual home where Glenn Miller was born. That’ a great porch to take a break on!
Where did he take his first steps? In what room did he perk-up for the first time when he heard a little musical jingle he liked? Where did he first smile? That same smile he had all the way up to 1944 during those shows for his legions of fans…

Page County and the surrounding area has TONS of history. A sprawling Clarinda facility houses a lot of it and you can spend a major chunk of your day viewing the local history at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum!

All you 4H lovers out there can find its original home here in Clarinda! Thank you for 4H, Mrs. Shambaugh!
School’s in session again! One-room style and it’s loaded with history. Now, pay attention!
Exhibit after exhibit at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum. Natural wonders like a record breaking meteorite, wildlife, local war heroes, Clarinda POW Camp history, and all that 4H lore that started here in Page County and SW-Iowa!
The heartbreaking story of the Orphan Train days has its own stories right here in Clarinda. Read this entire memorial while you’re here at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum.
The Page County Freedom Rock has it’s home on the grounds of the historical museum. It sees regular visitors and we weren’t the only ones circling this huge boulder while we were here.

I will jump onto the county blacktops for just about any reason. Especially when there’s a story behind an off the beaten path cemetery. Near the town of College Springs, and up the hill from a gravel road, is Grove Cemetery and the only resting place for a Revolutionary War veteran in Iowa.

In between College Springs and Blanchard is this picturesque scene in Page County.
Grove Cemetery sits in a prairie preserve so there is no mowing. Only controlled burns fully expose these headstones every few years.
Daniel Dow helped this country get it’s freedom and lived on into the early years of Iowa’s statehood.

It was at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum when I was told of this cemetery. I was all in at that moment. Honoring the veterans of this country can happen in several ways. The huge monuments in Washington, DC that attract millions of visitors every year. The local memorials all over the country that stand tall in front of courthouses and inside parks. Bubba’s Freedom Rocks all over Iowa. And then the gravesites of prairie cemeteries that are miles from town and tell a story of revaluation. I can’t tell you how happy I was to find the Dow family plot in rural Page County. I spent about an hour here before I went back to town for more history….

What! Historic baseball in Clarinda! Let’s just see what this is all about….

The Clarinda A’s have been hosting summertime baseball talent for decades and there has been an amazing amount of talent that has rounded the bases at Clarinda Municipal Stadium. You don’t have to turn on the TV to see historic stadiums. Baseball’s roots stretch throughout countless communities in America and Clarinda is one of those unforgettable baseball towns that players and fans have loved for many years.

You want a baseball education? Then get over here to Clarinda!
The Wizard! Ozzie Smith is one of the all-time greatest MLB stars and his path to Cooperstown went through Clarinda, Iowa!
Another star had fond memories of Page County. The late Danny Gans became a famous entertainer after his talents steered him away from the diamonds. Can you imagine the dugouts and clubhouses with this guy cracking you up!

Let’s Eat Steak!

Back to the Clarinda town square and J Bruner’s!

I’ve always loved the town square set up. Laps and laps around, you’ll always find something to enjoy and Clarinda is no different! Our Page County stop on the Western Iowa T-Bone Trail was J Bruner’s and we had another beefy and fantastic meal coming our way!

Hey, dude! How many thumbs up do you have for J Bruner’s!?!
Now, this is a classy bar! Makes me want to order all those old school cocktails. I think I’ll do just that!
Some of the greatest onion rings you’ll get anywhere! J Bruner’s also has fresh salads that get the royal treatment. Look how it’s served! That’s bacon, baby!

J Bruner’s is a BEAUTIFUL restaurant. The ambiance hits you right away when you open the front door and its one that makes you feel like an unforgettable meal is just minutes away.

And I was right about that! An unforgettable KC Strip Sirloin topped with melted Bleu cheese and a side of mushrooms to go with every slice of beef I take off that steak!

Another family operated restaurant and I mean that to the letter of its definition. I loved the salad course concept and the family style of passing it around to your supper companions. Fresh greens, veggies, rich dressings, and a bowl of crispy bacon! And did you see those onion rings? Those were some of the best in Iowa and you need to come to Clarinda and order a pyramid of your own! Oh, yea…..Then there’s the steak! The juicy Bleu cheesy steak! J Bruner’s features this KC Strip and it was an incredible one. Click on the video below and see what my friend, Chef Max has to say about J Bruner’s!

That’s a young man who loves the spotlight!
Thank you, J Bruner’s family!

Stay Active

The post supper constitutional is a tradition for me and I took more laps around the Clarinda town square after another wonderful steak supper on the Western Iowa T-Bone Trail. That’s not all I did on this evening….
Welcome to Iowa! A corn hole game can be found anywhere and that includes the Clarinda town square!

Check-In

This family of hotels has been great friends to us on TIG over the years. I was happy to be checking into another Cobblestone Inn & Suites here in Clarinda! 105 Essie Davison Drive 712-850-1471
That lobby needed a selfie with me. I could feel it!
Always getting a great bed and room at Cobblestones everywhere! That includes this one in Clarinda!

If you’ve been reading past blog posts of ours, you’ll know that we really like it when things are just steps away from our hotel room. The Clarinda Cobblestone Inn & Suites has that covered! Let’s get a nightcap….

The Ice House is just across from the hotel parking lot and serving some cold beers!
That’s how I like to end a day of gallivanting! Thanks for the cold ones, Ice House! Now, this cowboy needs to call it a night…
Back to my Cobblestone room and one more happy face selfie from this dork.
Goodnight, Glenn Miller. How about one of those easy going tunes to lull me into the Clarinda night…..
Morning came in and so did the complimentary breakfast at Cobblestone Inn & Suites!
Bacon and eggs. The greatest words in early morning history!

Cobblestone Inn & Suites-Clarinda was another welcoming experience for me at their properties. I loved the location and was very grateful for the hardworking staff. My room was great, the flat screen TV remote got a nice workout from the comfort of my own bed, and the hot breakfast did it’s morning job it was supposed to. And that’s getting me out of bed and energized! Each stay at a Cobblestone has made me looking forward to the next one and that was no different here in Clarinda. Thank for another wonderful night in Page County, Cobblestone!

Bonus Beef

Just outside of Clarinda is another important and classic family business. Wellhausen Farms!

We met another family of Iowa’s beef producers here in Page County, and I was given the ATV tour I can’t enough of in Western Iowa. The Wellhausens have been farming in the area for a long time and they had some great looking cattle that were getting ready for market when I showed up. Click on the video below and meet one of Iowa’s ambassadors of this beefy business!

Keep up the great work, Wellhausen family!
That KC Strip wasn’t the only Iowa Beef inspired meal at J Bruner’s in Clarinda! Chef Max’s famous Sloppy Joes were the evening special!
J’s Pizza & Steak House has great pizza, but have you had the burgers? Well, you should because they’re known as some of the best in Clarinda!

There’s so many ways to see SW-Iowa and Page County brings a unique way to enjoy their proud communities, history, and those open rural roads we love in an Iowa getaway behind the wheel. A birthplace of a musical legend, a city that hosts future MLB stars, an impressive museum keeping the Carnegie name alive and well, precious and important 4H roots, and Max making it a memorable night for a great steak supper! That’s a host of legends and it’s all in Page County!

Be sure to like the T-Bone Trail on Facebook!

Book your reservation for Cobblestone Inn & Suites-Clarinda on their website.

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Be sure to click here and see all our gallivants in the Southwest Iowa region!

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Like the Iowa Beef Council on Facebook and keep up with info, updates, events, and promotions!

I’ll be back again, Dow Family. Something tells me you’re going to be getting more visitors…..

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