Homer's Travels: Iowa Riverfront Trail And The Western Historic Trail Center

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Iowa Riverfront Trail And The Western Historic Trail Center

I tested my new GPS on the Iowa Riverfront Trail which, surprise, follows the Missouri River. As I mentioned in my earlier post, my turnaround point was the Western Historic Trail Center. I'd heard of the center soon after moving back to Nebraska but had not made it there until now.

The Western Historic Trail Center is a small but interesting museum filled with dioramas illustrating the many trails that pass through the Council Bluffs - Omaha area. When I arrive the lights were off in the main exhibit hall. One of the attendants turned the lights on for me saying that they were trying to lower the electric bill. There is also a theater that was closed when I arrived.

Walking through the display area you see videos, photographs,and postcards illustrating the Lewis & Clark, Mormon, Oregon, and California trails. Other displays talk about Native Americans relations, pioneer life, and early roadways that crisscrossed the country. All the dioramas are works of art. Painted metal silhouettes of people, building, wagons, and animals are arranged in various historical scenes. The sculptures, made by
Timothy Woodman, are, for me, the main attraction of this museum. They are fascinating and very well done. Being frank, I was more interested in the dioramas than the history.

I understand they also hold folk song concerts in the museum rotunda. As I was leaving they were setting up chairs in preparation for another.

The center also has a large gift shop full of trail and pioneer related literature. I will have to go back sometime with the Wife.

I decided to extend the walk a little further. The trail continues down to the Lake Manawa area some 3 1/2 miles further on before connecting up with the Wabash Trace. Unfortunately I ran into issues when parts of the trail had not been cleared of snow. The idea of slogging through snow, and me without my new snowshoes, wasn't very attractive to me. After wading into the snow, and at one point sinking my leg into the snow up to my knee, I decided that enough was enough.

My final walk ended up being 11.38 miles. While there was very little elevation change, my GPS still said that my total ascent was 918 feet. I guess all those little ups and downs add up.


  1. Sounds like a pretty cool trail. Breaking through the powdery stuff can be a pain, can't it?

  2. GH: Without snowshoes, yes, it is a pain. The trail is more a bike bath than a hiking trail but, around here, beggars can't be choosers.

  3. And this just confirms that I need to live in a larger country.

  4. Godefroy: Large countries are great but it take a long time to get anywhere.