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

Ancient Iowa In the Hills: Fremont County’s Railroad to Freedom

*There is no other formation quite like the Loess Hills. We saw all 7 counties that they stretch through, during our summertime Western Iowa T-Bone Trail, with the seventh being Fremont County. This was the SW-Iowa region I have never really seen before. Our trip here was sponsored by Southwest Iowa Development Corporation. Some of the goods, meals, and services were complimentary. All the views expressed in this blog post are of our own. Now, let’s Gallivant!

The constant friend of mine all summer in Western Iowa

Fremont County, Iowa (Our 86th Iowa County)

Plymouth, Woodbury, Monona, Harrison, Pottawattamie, Mills….then Fremont. All the Loess Hills counties saw The Iowa Gallivant between May and July in 2021. The best word I can say is “friend”. The Loess Hills welcomed us in like a friend that supplied comfort in a beautiful setting all summer. Getting to Fremont County has been on my radar for a very long time because it’s been a goal of mine to see all four corners of Iowa. Lee, Allamakee, and Lyon had all been checked off. It was time for Fremont County to complete the job!

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One of Iowa’s most beautiful state parks and its here in the extreme southwest corner of Iowa!

I’ve been reading about Waubonsie State Park for many years. Always seeing pictures and reading stories about someone else’s adventures in this section of the Loess Hills. It was my time to have my own memories of Waubonsie and boy did I walk away more enlighten than I thought I’d be when I showed up.

This particular walking trail keeps this view of the Missouri River valley in sight during the hike. I didn’t want to remove my eyes from this overlook for a moment.
Thick timber is all along the Loess Hills from Plymouth Co to Fremont Co. These trails are some of Iowa’s most scenic of their kind.
Prepare more time than expected when you arrive to this overlook at Waubonsie State Park.

I just kept going. A longer time spent here than I planned and I was completely ok with that. Then a break at this inspiring overlook. For a long time I was the only one there. An elderly man would eventually come by and sit on the bench next to mine. He sat down, let out a sigh and adjust the binoculars he had dangling from his neck. He caught his breath and said something that was so incredibly perfect for the moment we were in. “It never gets old does it…” I looked back at the forest and valley ahead of us and agreed with him. “I s’pose it doesn’t…”, I said back to him.

He told me that he grew up in nearby Pacific Junction and had been visiting this overlook his whole life. Bird watching and general peacefulness is why. The two of us were in our own individual universe of splendor while enjoying our positions on the park benches. The Loess Hills are ancient. Formations caused by the Ice Age and gifted to all of us modern day humans and wildlife alike. Together absorbing the tranquility here. “They never get old…” That’s right, my friend. Though the hills have blessed the Western Iowa region for thousands of years, they will never get old. I truly hope I share the afternoon at this Waubonsie overlook with him again. Let’s head somewhere fit for admiral….

Farragut, Iowa named after the famous Civil War Admiral himself. James Glasgow Farragut!

I’m all ears when I hear about ANY maritime story. There was no way I was going to take a pass on Farragut, Iowa. I first heard of the admiral when I was visiting Fort Morgan near Gulf Shores, Alabama and the historic order yelled out to his men during the Battle of Mobile Bay. “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” It’s now a treasured quote and piece of US Navy history and the folks who platted this town wanted it named after the man who took on the confederacy at full speed.

The Admiral Trail cuts through Farragut and supplies another great way to see Fremont County while being active. Take note cyclists…You’re very close to the Wabash Trace when you arrive in Farragut!
A sunrise specialty in Fremont County. Beautiful hills and historically unique features tucked inside them. Pay attention to these brown signs wherever you go in your travels
Natural wonders at Possum Hollow and education to go along with it all.

History & Roadside America

Tabor, Iowa and it’s major intersection for the Underground Railroad.

This would be one of the most impactful stops we’d ever taken in the history of all our travels on TIG. The Todd House is an amazing and incredibly important piece of Iowa’s history in the Underground Railroad era.

This description of the Todd House hits the historic nail on the head. But just wait until you get inside.
Kept up in the era that made this house historically relevant for as long as it stands. The Todd family would still feel very much at home here.
The pictures of the Todd family tell the history of each member in great detail. The pictures are on ambrotype glass and are the only photos reproduced of this famous Tabor, Iowa family.

I was shown every room of the house and the one that gave me chills would be upstairs. It was there when I felt the heaviness in the air that the Todd House still has. Watch the video below and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Make the Todd House-Tabor, Iowa happen all you history buffs!

Though I think I described it pretty well, the energy of the crawl space is still very difficult to illustrate. The fact that someone was willing to be so cramped for an indefinite amount of time is what was so impactful and memorable for me. Not once in my life have I ever had the urge to flee from anything especially vengeful slave owners. These days on the run were terrifying, but the human spirit kept them going with the help of folks along the way like the Todd family.

A simple wooden latch to hold a simple panel to keep someone hidden from people hunting slaves fleeing for their lives.
Now a city park, but it holds a very important piece of history in the lead up to the American Civil War. The infamous abolitionist, John Brown trained his ragtag company on this field before the attack on Harpers Ferry. The prelude to Civil War had many events that caused its outbreak. Tabor is in those stories of how it all began.

After the Todd House I was ready for some relaxing unscripted gallivanting. Just hitting the road and discovering roadside Iowa. Fremont County has plenty of that while circling the Loess Hills National Scenic byway!

Another reminder of Tabor’s past….
Hunter School in rural Fremont County outside of Tabor.
When was the last time you went on a good old fashioned cowboy boot hunt! You can do just that in the town square of Sidney, Iowa! And this collage of pics isn’t all you’ll find in Rodeo Town USA!

Let’s Eat Steak

Near the town of Hamburg and directly on the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway is this sprawling facility known as Whiskey Springs! 2474 Bluff Road

Whiskey Springs will be one of the most picturesque restaurants you’ll find in Western Iowa. Positioned right in the middle of the Loess Hills and on one of the main scenic roads through Fremont County.

There’s a reason they call it Whiskey Springs. Natural springs are throughout the property and lead down hill onto the outdoor patio. This place is sounding more and more inviting!
One of three bars at Whiskey Springs! They want to make sure you get that cold one pretty darn quickly wherever you’re positioned.

Whiskey Springs gives you that feeling of being at the farm for a big time shindig in the barn. It has an entertaining decor and showcases a delicious selections on their menu. But, hey! I was here for the Prime Rib and that’s exactly what made it to the bar at Whiskey Springs! Just watch the video below and see what I’m talking about!

That’s a huge Prime Rib! You ready for s trip to Hamburg, Iowa for this juicy cut!

Great atmosphere, service, bar seen, and awesome food! Fremont County has a keeper with Whiskey Springs! That’s thick-cut journey into the Loess Hills…

And there’s a closeup of that amazing meal!

The Whiskey Springs Prime Rib was one of the most tender I’ve ever had. Their own recipe and it’s slow cooked for hours! I barely needed to use the steak knife and the outer crust was seasoned with a great blend of spices and had a peppery flavor with every bite. Rich au jus that I could do shots of, creamy mashed potatoes, and that sweet corn we love in Iowa. And look at that side of horseradish! Whooooooo-weeeee! This was a Fremont County meal I’ll never forget and it makes me want to come back to Whiskey Springs for a sunset supper on Bluff Road. The Loess Hills has a way of bringing you back for more….

Thanks to this fantastic crew at Whiskey Springs!

Sweet Corn Season in Sidney

The Fremont County Fair was getting geared up for a great weekend and I had a surprise waiting for me!
It was at this moment that I knew I had become an instant forever fan of the Fremont County Fair!

There’s always going to be reasons to dip into a county fair. The food, exhibits, entertainment, emceeing an anual corn on the cob eating contest, competition….Wait! You want me to emcee something that relates to Iowa’s greatest gift to reasons for eating copious amounts of butter? Count me in!

Getting ready for another great day with a community sweet corn challenge!
Very much a spectator attraction. The pressure is on for the contestants at the Fremont County fair!
One of the victors on this “corny” day! He used the fast paced typewriter method and got his 2021 crown for his championship efforts! Something’s in your teeth, kid….
Grab some refreshments while you watch your peers tear through the competition!

Volunteers readied the corn and the age brackets were announced. From the little sprouts all the way up to the folks perfecting the dad-bod. All on stage with many ears of Iowa sweet corn. I never emceed such an event, but I was more than happy to grab the mic for this Fremont frenzy at the fairgrounds. The crowd cheered and the contestants loved getting their faces smothered in sweet corn. It had been so long since I looked into a crowd of smiling faces and it was another reminder of how much we needed this summer to happen. Great job all around to everyone at the Fremont County Fair!


There’s staying in the Loess Hills area and then there’s literally staying in the Loess Hills. Horse Creek Adventures is the scenic stay you’re looking for in Fremont County! 2048 Horse Creek Road-Sidney, Iowa 712-314-0648

Horse Creek Adventures sits inside the gorgeous countryside of the Loess Hills and the scenery that surrounds the Country Diamond Inn provides for a beautiful getaway all on its own. Sure, you want to see a lot of Fremont County, but an entire relaxing weekend of staying put, right here at Horse Creek, would make for another wonderful SW-Iowa experience.

Into the Loess Hills and up the lane at Horse Creek Adventures is the Country Diamond Inn!
That welcoming is like a big hug baked inside a quick bread!
Make myself at home….Why not start with the living room!
The inn has the rural feel to it which is exactly what you’re looking for when you come to an area like this. Early morning sunlight came flooding in.
My bedroom for the night with its soothing blue decor. Each room looks different from the others with carefully thought out ambiance around every corner.
One of many bookshelves upstairs near the rooms. You can give that microscope a test drive too! I bet you were wondering what the insides of the local insects looked like all day.
Plenty of space in the common areas with TVs and comfortable furniture to sprawl out on.
A scene from the backyard at the Country Diamond Inn. Up that hill is a perfect sunrise spot.
The back patio in full bloom. You can get that group outing taken care of in relaxing and scenic style at Horse Creek Adventures!

A beautiful farmhouse positioned along the grassy hillside of the Loess Hills in rural Fremont County, Iowa. Try to tell me that doesn’t spark some road trip inspiration and imagination. Horse Creek Adventures provides an unforgettable layout that can get you active and keep you relaxed in the SW-Iowa scenery. Lona, the hostess of the inn, made sure we all had a snack when arriving and that gives the extra touch anyone would love. The setting was a quiet getaway from a busy week and I had zero problems when it came to relaxing in my wonderful room. The sounds of Loess Hills wildlife helped lull me to sleep and welcomed me at sunrise the next day. Every part of Horse Creek adventures showed me how tranquil and peaceful this corner of Iowa can be. Stay tuned to TIG because we have more to show you from this Fremont County gift to Western Iowa!

Bonus Beef

Let’s get a cheesy, beefy, and very tasty hot pizza at the Silver Spur Bar & Grill on the Sidney town square! They have a great bar and the folks that work here were very fun to hang out with. Cheers to you, Silver Spur!
And look who joined me for supper! It’s Lona from Horse Creek Adventures!
I can taste the Fremont County Fair in this picture. BBQ roast beef dripping onto my chips with refreshing gulps of cold lemonade!
The show cattle were strutting their stuff in Sidney on this evening which means the friendly competition was escalating! Someone is going to be a champion around here and it’s not just the folks motoring through sweet corn on stage. These cows enjoy some of the prettiest pastures the Midwest has to offer.

The morning of my departure arrived and it was a closing to our Loess Hills exploring for the summer. It was the Western Iowa landmass I’ve been wanting to travel extensively long before we started The Iowa Gallivant in 2014. It was a path that Lewis & Clark traveled twice with the Corps of Discovery, and I find myself always wondering if I’m standing in the same spot they did. Did they awaken to the sunrise on the same bluff I’m at? Which trees did they rest under and am I enjoying the same shade? Did someone in that expedition imagine the overlook at Waubonsie the same way the man from Grand Junction did?

Morning in Fremont County was one of the most beautiful I experienced in Western Iowa. Dewy, slightly hazy, cool air, and with the constant sounds of wildlife introducing themselves and with little traffic from other vehicles. Being alone in Possum Hollow was incredibly therapeutic and helped me appreciate the moment I was in and the others I could remember earlier in the year. I didn’t want to leave Fremont County. I had so much more to discover of with my friend, Loess…

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Just after this bridge was the Fremont County line and the end of my Loess Hills journey…..For now.

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