Located along the Minnesota border, Winnebago County has a lot going for it. At first blush, most people might associate Forest City, the county's town seat, with Winnebago Industries or perhaps Tree Town music festival, the largest annual country music festival in the Midwest. There's a large 3M plant, lots of outdoor recreation, a mansion museum, a 91 acre heritage park. It's annual celebration is known as "Puckerbrush Days" and I walked in that parade for a political candidate 11 years ago.
There's also two other aspects that help define Forest City: Waldorf University and the county's historic courthouse. Like a lot of counties in Iowa, the courthouse is in the middle of the town with a square of businesses and buildings surrounding it. The university, founded in 1903, occupies a couple of blocks directly to the west of the courthouse. Both serve as the anchors to the downtown district.
On a recent Saturday, after spending some time in Wright County, a friend and I drove north to check out those two elements. I don't think I'd been back since 2008 and it was nice to take in the sights a bit.
The courthouse has a lot of history to it and the grounds are filled with unique monuments and interesting elements.
There is a beautiful Civil War statue with a fountain on the east side. According to a plaque on the building, it is an extremely rare arrangement.
There is also a large tank that is a monument to area soldiers who served during various national crises.
There is another plaque on the building which gives a little history of the county. Unfortunately, there is a pretty noticeable typo in it. It should read, "approved an act of the Iowa Legislature". Instead, it reads, "approved an act of the Iowa legislation".
There is a cannon on one corner of the square.
I also found a marker denoting the existence of a time capsule. It must have been the thing to do in the mid to late 1950's because I also recently found something similar at the Monroe County Courthouse in Albia.
On the north side of the courthouse is a very nice multi-faceted veterans memorial as well as a gazebo.
Across the street is Waldorf University. It is a private institution of higher learning and went by Waldorf College until 2016. I have at least one high school classmate that graduated from here. According to research I found online, it has about 680 students and about 71 faculty. That certainly makes it an important economic contributor. You can read a lot more about the university on its website.
Geographically, the university does not occupy a huge amount of space.
However, there are a number of different buildings of various age and architectural uniqueness.
There's a really cool statue on the middle of campus that really grabbed my attention.
Even though it was an unseasonably warm Saturday in January, the campus was still pretty quiet because it was winter break for students and faculty. I will have to come back to the home of the Warriors when there is a bit more activity happening. I will also need to come back and check out more of Forest City and the surrounding communities. This was a quick visit and I'll look forward to coming back to do more exploring and more adventuring.