On a recent Saturday afternoon, I traveled the entire distance of Iowa's "White Pole Road". The White Pole Road essentially runs parallel to Interstate 80 between the city of Dexter in Dallas County all the way to the city of Adair in Adair County with the communities of Menlo, Casey, and Stuart, all of Guthrie County, in the middle.
The road has a lot of history. It goes back over a 100 years and to the early days of automobiles. Their website, which is a wealth of information and road trip ideas, does a much better job summarizing it than I. It is, at it's very basic level, a stretch of highway with hundreds of white painted telephone poles.
This byway is an important economic development amenity for this area and these communities. I'm sure it brings people just like me (and hopefully you!) to come and go an an adventure. It's been well branded and it's less than a hour drive from the Des Moines metro and a little more than an hour from Omaha or Council Bluffs.
Previously, in this series of posts about the White Pole Road, I've profiled Dexter as well as some historical sites of crimes committed by Bonnie and Clyde or Jesse James and his gang of outlaws.
If you are traveling west from Dexter, the next town you encounter along the road is Stuart. For many who travel frequently on I-80, you'll know that Stuart is a popular exit because it has a couple of big convenience stores and other restaurants near the exit. However, it's important to get beyond just those exit amenities. The actual community is really quite lovely - even if there are a few stinkers.
Ruby's Pub & Grill
I had lunch at Ruby's Pub & Grill in the downtown part of town. It has a nice atmosphere but most importantly, it has a solid menu. It's exactly the kind of hometown bar/grill you see in small towns across Iowa. These kinds of places are critically important to these communities' survival.
Inside, it's got a great combination of industrial and contemporary with nice exposed brick, hardwood floors, and corrugated metal.
They have a mural of sorts on the wall as you walk in the door to the right. It's an amusing slogan of sorts.
There's a disco ball and some fun - somewhat vintage - beer lighting throughout.
I wanted to take issue with the Hawkeyes insignia - but I suppose there are a few fans here and there in western Iowa. The Iowa Adventurer is an ardent Cyclones fan.
I spotted some old (vintage) slot machine-like consoles toward the back of the restaurant near the bathrooms. I'm not sure if they are in use for amusement purposes, but they looked cool.
The seating is casual. There are some booths, some high-top tables, and seating at a bar.
The kitchen is toward the back of the restaurant. It does not appear to be very large - but certainly adequate to churn out the small-town bar and grill sandwich, burger, and pizza menu that you would expect.
The menu (as well as other signs) note that they serve Zipp's Pizza. Iowa Adventurer stopped at Zipps earlier this year on National Pizza Day. It's worth stopping by when you are in Adair.
I decided, at the suggestion of the server, to try to the hot ham and cheese sandwich basket which was accompanied by french fries. It was quite delicious. They use honey ham, so it's a good combination of the sweeter and salty.
If you love your experience at Ruby's you can buy yourself a branded t-shirt before you stumble out.
I certainly would recommend a stop at Ruby's - either for a cold beverage or a meal. Check out their Facebook page and give them a like. I'm sure it's not a bad place to watch the Hawkeyes lose to the Cyclones.
My lunch was delicious and gave me some energy to continue my exploration of the community as well as the rest of the White Pole Road.
Turtle Star Studio
Elsewhere in the downtown area, I spotted a little store that had an open sign out front. I thought I would check it out as I enjoy visiting other fun small businesses, especially in rural Iowa. Inside, I met Lynsi, owner of Turtle Star Studio, and learned a little about her business as well as the classes that are offered.
Lynsi had some fun (and quite beautiful!) local art and gifts for sale.
Check out Turtle Star Studio's Facebook page and make it a point to check it out next time you are in the area.
Elsewhere in Stuart
Of course, downtown Stuart is home to a former bank building that was robbed by Bonnie and Clyde. I wrote about that in an earlier post. However, elsewhere downtown, I spotted another pub, a tattoo parlor, some fitness businesses, and some really beautiful lamp posts.
I saw a stunningly beautiful building further to the west. I am not sure what it is used for today but it's some spectacular architecture.
But that wasn't the only beautiful architecture I found - there's more of that nearby including a some great looking church buildings. If I am not mistaken, the whiter colored building below is now the Saints Center for the Culture and Arts as it was the victim of arson in the mid-90's.
I saw many gorgeous homes as well, but this big white house really caught my attention.
Elsewhere around Stuart, I spotted some other businesses and a city park.
Closer to the edge of town, I spotted some more great history including the old Stuart Hotel and the old train depot. Both of these buildings are on the White Pole Road. I don't know what the hotel building is used for - but it's such a neat looking building and I'm sure was quite the place in it's day. I hope it can be restored or utilized in a productive way.
"Strictly Modern" is a great slogan for a motel.
As you head on White Pole Road toward Dexter, I spotted the school and accompanying athletic facilities, a newer looking church (presumably replacing the one that burned?), the water tower, and some emergency services garages. I also drove by some old metal machine sheds where an auction was winding down.
Stuart is a very nice community and I was impressed by its cleanliness. I would challenge you to not only stop at the Stuart exit on I-80 but go further into town to explore. There's a lot of great stuff happening.
Stay tuned for future posts on Menlo, Casey, and Adair. As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile in Guthrie County or in any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you would like to host the Iowa Adventurer or have a good idea, please drop me a note through my website.