Harcourt claims that it's the "Best Little Town in Iowa." I'm sure a lot of other little towns in Iowa might claim otherwise, but they are so certain of their assertion that they are willing to put it on their town sign. That's confidence and I can admire that.
Located at the nexus of Highways 169 and 175 in southern Webster County, this town (named for a British statesman) of about 300 does have some great qualities.
I've been stopping at the Sinclair Sparky's gas station in Harcourt for well over a decade as it's on my route to and from where my parents live in Northwest Iowa. It's the only convenience store in town and since there is no cafe or grocery store either, it's naturally a popular place. Most residents probably make the 15 minute drive to Fort Dodge for their shopping needs.
There's lots of parking, including for trucks.
While I certainly haven't tried the hamburgers at all the convenient stores in Iowa, I would say that the burgers at this Sparky's are the best I've ever enjoyed at a gas station. I usually get one every time I stop and I have never been disappointed.
I don't know if it's the burger or the homemade bun that makes it so good but the combo, with the fresh toppings options, are quite memorable. Next time, try one for yourself. You can thank me later.
Like any other rural Iowa convenient store, you can find a wide assortment of hot and cold drinks and a few aisles of other food and merchandise.
There are a couple of booths toward the back so it's a good place for folks to gather for coffee and gossip.
You know a place is a popular community spot when you find a bulletin board covered in community and area announcements.
Elsewhere in town, I spotted a couple of very beautiful old church buildings.
There's also a new church being built on the outskirts of town. However, it clearly lacks the character (at least from the outside) of the older buildings in town.
There's a city park with a couple of interesting signs. I thought the sign reminding people to ask their child about their day was nice to see. That's important.
This park clearly does not want anyone horsing around!
Of course, the main component of the area's economy is agriculture and there is a nice-sized John Deere dealership there.
There's also some grain handling facilities but they did not look to be in use. Perhaps I am wrong on that?
I found a ball diamond by the town's water tower.
There are a number of buildings on the main street in various states of use and condition. Naturally, there is a city hall, post office, fire station, and library but I also found a bank and lumber store, among other things.
It looks like there is a pub building for sale if someone wants to own the "the best pub in the best little town" in Iowa.
The old school building is being used these days as a community and recreational building. It's got some great architectural elements.
There's a nice mix of both larger and more modest homes.
I've been stopping at the Sparky's or driving by the town for years, but admittedly...this was the first time I actually drove into town. It's a nice community and I'm somewhat ashamed that it took me this long to do that. That's sort of the focus of this site - don't just drive by...drive in. You might just discover something amazing.
I'm sure I'll be back again sometime soon. I'm already looking forward to my next "Harcourt hamburger". Though, I do hope my next visit happens when it isn't so cold or so snowy.