2020 is Stanton's sesquicentennial. This means that the little Montgomery County community of approximately 700 people has been a town for 150 years (incorporated in 1870)!
One hundred years ago (50 years after the town's founding) in 1920, a woman by the name of Virginia Christine was born in Stanton. Virginia passed away in 1996 at the age of 76 and so she is not around to anymore to celebrate this big milestone. What's so special about Virginia Christine, you ask?
Well, Virginia was an American actress (in several mediums) and was well known as Mrs. Olson, the Folgers Coffee Woman, in commercials several decades ago.
Even though her family moved on and she spent much of her life outside of Iowa (she is buried in California), Stanton is still proud of their native daughter. So much so, that they used this coffee connection to create something else that now helps to put the town on the map: Stanton is home to the World's Largest Swedish Coffee Pot".
For years, this "coffee pot" could be seen from far and wide, as it served as the town's water tower. However, a few years ago, it became time for some infrastructure upgrades and thus the useful life of the sky high coffee pot tower was coming to an end.
Was that the total end though? Was it destined for the metal recycler? Fortunately, the town rallied together and the answer to those questions was found: "No".
The community, with the help of all kinds of donors from near and far, preserved it and moved it so that it could be enjoyed by locals and travelers for years and decades to come. Former Des Moines Register Kyle Munson wrote a piece about the effort and the coffee pot in 2014 and it is worth the time to read if you are interested.
The coffee pot may not be as high in the air as it once was, but it's still impressively imposing when you get up close.
The structure has been beautifully re-painted and sits on a solid base of metal and concrete. I personally like my coffee HOT so it's nice to see those burner flames going strong.
The tower is illuminated by lights and has been surrounded with beautiful landscaping and benches. It's a true park-like setting.
A nice sign with some of the details about the structure has been placed nearby.
It's located next to the old brick school building, which is now a Swedish Heritage Cultural Center. I'll have to come back sometime and check that out when it is open. Of course, as you imagine, the area is home to a lot of families of Swedish descent.
On the day that I stopped, there was some significant landscaping work being done around and near the building.
There are a couple of other buildings on the campus that help to make this a worthwhile stop if yo make the time to do so.
Of course, the question should be asked...if the old water tower is now just a community attraction, what does the town use now instead for it's water tower? You wouldn't expect a town with such a unique water tower for decades to just have any old generic one. The new water tower is on the south edge of town and is...<drum roll>... a huge coffee cup with saucer.
We wouldn't have expected anything else!
I don't know if this is the world's largest coffee cup/saucer, but I have to imagine it's up near the top of the list. It's certainly the largest in Iowa, that's for sure. Like its predecessor, the coffee cup water tower is also very elegantly painted.
I'm sure you can find a good cup of coffee somewhere in town. At least, I would expect to! If there isn't a coffee shop in Stanton that also doubles as a roasterie, there's a free idea for someone to glam on to. Lots of tourists would probably buy a bag of coffee roasted in the town with the world's largest coffee pot!
There are lots of things to see and do in Montgomery County and some quality restaurants to enjoy as well. Iowa Adventurer has made stops in Red Oak and Villisca in the past and I need to get back to check out some of the rest of the county and also explore more of beautiful and historic Stanton.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Montgomery County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.