Iowa’s Art Bridge on the High Trestle Trail

Iowa Miners And The High Trestle Trail?

It’s no surprise that Iowa has farmers’ daughters.  But coal miners’ daughters?  You thought they were in Kentucky, right?  Well, yes.  But also in Iowa.  Surprised?  I was.   I’ve lived on the west coast of Iowa my entire life and I had no idea central Iowa once had a robust coal mining industry.

The industrious immigrants to this area were farmers in the summer and coal miners in the winter.  Not only did they provide heat for their families, but fuel to the trains that were  beginning to criss-cross the amber fields of grain.

Jump ahead a few decades and the once busy train tracks have been replaced with another type of traffic – the two-legged and two-wheeled type — pedestrian and pedal.  Considered a rail trail because it is built on land previously used by the railroad, the 25 mile long High Trestle Trail is a paved connector from Ankeny to Woodward, Iowa.  The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation helped purchase the land, which is in the four Iowa counties of Boone, Dallas, Polk, and Story, from the Union Pacific Railroad.

High Trestle Trail — An Iowa Trail — Night and Day

The High Trestle Trail Bridge is one that should be experienced both in the daylight and at night.  During the day, the paved trail is a pleasant, tree-lined walk.  Sharing the trail with bicycles requires a little communication, but everyone we encountered was friendly and having fun.  The trail is unlit so bring a flashlight with you after dark – not only to see with, but so you can be seen by the other walkers and cyclists.

The gem of the trail, located between Woodward and Madrid, Iowa, is the 13-story high, half-mile long “art bridge.”  The High Trestle Trail bridge is built on the original railroad trestle piers and crosses the Des Moines River.  Imagined and designed by renowned Des Moines, Iowa, artist David B. Dahlquist and RDG Dahlquist Art Studio,  the goal of creating a “destination for experiencing the art, the view, and the natural environment”1 has been accomplished ten-fold.

High Trestle Trail Bridge — An Iowa Gem

Huge monoliths arise at either end of the High Trestle Trail Bridge, each with “veins” of dark, formed ceramic tiles representing the coal found in the area.   These are the start of the art!  Strategically located across the half-mile bridge, square steel frames are angled over the bridge itself.  As you stand on the bridge and look forward, it appears as though the frames are connected to one another.  The illusion is intended to represent descending into a mine shaft.  And it works!

An amazing work of art seen during the day, experiencing it at night – with the steel sections over the Des Moines River lit up in blue LED lights – is breathtaking.  If you really want to experience art and be a part of it, travel to the High Trestle Trail Bridge after dark.  If you don’t really care about art, but you want to experience something really cool, then travel to the High Trestle Trail Bridge after dark.  Discover the scenic side of life.  It is definitely worth the trip!  Ydstoti!

1RDG Planning and Design:  Website

High Trestle Trail Bridge

Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant

With a name like “Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant,” you should be prepared to get good, down-home, farm-fresh cookin’.  That is just what you get at this popular restaurant destination in Des Moines, Iowa.  Technically, its in Urbandale, and technically its called “The Machine Shed” but there is nothing technical about the good food they serve.  It is simple and delicious — and true to their five-word mission:  “Dedicated to the American Farmer.” 

While The Iowa Machine Shed food is definitely worth waiting for, you won’t mind waiting a bit if needed.  Located at Iowa’s “Living History Farms” in Urbandale, the Iowa Machine Shed is the only restaurant I know where you can get a ride on a hay rack (minus the itchy hay) pulled by a tractor.   Or linger in their country-store-style waiting area, shopping through their cookbooks and other fun household necessities like beautiful towels and clever kitchen gadgets.   You just might be disappointed if you don’t have to wait!

 Iowa Machine Shed Menu

Its best to come hungry.  After placing your order, your server brings out family-style ”fixins” — cole slaw, cottage cheese, fresh bread and spice cake.   The spice cake is a welcome change from the usual dinner rolls and is on my list of favorites at the Iowa Machine Shed.  On this particular trip, Roy got the meatloaf.   It was a stack of thick, homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes, beef gravy, and french fried onions.   He said it was delicious.  (I sure hope he doesn’t expect this kind of meatloaf at home!  Mine is delicious, but I can see I’ll have to work on my presentation.)  My creamed chicken and biscuits were tasty as well, and just what I expected.

Ever on the search for the perfect apple dumpling, we did share one for dessert — with cinnamon ice cream.  Their signature dessert, we rated it as very good. 

Iowa Machine Shed at Least Once a Year

We get to the Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant at least once a year when we’re in Des Moines for the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association “Heartland Nationals” at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.  The Iowa Machine Shed staff never have a problem putting together a table big enough for 12 to 14 of us to sit around.  They feed us like family and treat us that way, too.  That’s part of what keeps us going back.  That and the food!  Iowa Machine Shed — it’s worth the trip!