Plymouth County's Akron is the northern gateway to the Loess Hills

February 25, 2019

Plymouth County is home to a lot of very nice communities. I had the distinct pleasure of visiting all of them at various times during my on and off tenure as a freelance journalist for the Le Mars Daily Sentinel newspaper. One of the prettiest communities in the whole county is Akron, which sits along the Big Sioux River on the west "coast" of Iowa.

Akron and it's population of about 1500 people sits at the far northern edge of of the world-famous Loess Hills, which runs through many counties on the western side of our state. Thus, it's considered the "northern gateway" to these famous wind blown formations. There's only one other place in the world (China) where you will find anything like Iowa's Loess Hills

I have a number of good friends from the Akron area and have been here on several occasions. On a recent Saturday, I stopped into town to enjoy lunch at Akron Jo's Cafe and then I spent about an hour just wandering around and looking at the sites. There's a lot to appreciate.

 

The town has a lower elevation as you get closer to the river (west side) and a higher one on the east side of town. I took these photos near the water tower and facing west from a top of the hill.

These are looking back toward the direction of the river, elevator, and the downtown.

 

 

Akron is part of the Akron-Westfield School District and their school building and athletic facilities are on the eastern side of town. There's a lot of pride for the AW Westerners.

 

 

 

The city park has a lot of different amenities. From playground equipment to a gazebo and even a veteran's memorial sponsored by the local chapter of the American Legion. It would be a nice place to enjoy the warmer days that are sure to come back eventually (right?).

 

 

 

 

Nearby is a softball field where the Westerners play and a town swimming pool.

The Main Street district has a lot of nice buildings with a wide variety of businesses utilizing them.

 

 

 

 

 

Pizza Ranch was founded in northwest Iowa so of course it is expected that you would find one in town. The photo below is of Akron Jo's, where I had a great lunch. 

The old opera house is across the street from the cafe. Opera houses were built in towns all over Iowa at the turn of the century. Some are still in use, some have been re-purposed, and some have been (very sadly) abandoned. They were usually built to be showcases with ornate detail. I am curious as to what the Akron one looks like inside. I hope it is being preserved.

It's getting harder to find bowling alleys anymore. I did find Lazy Lanes in Akron.

Of course, there's a public library and a post office as well.  

On the east side of town, there is a cemetery, a prairie preserve, and a single wind turbine.

I spotted several gorgeous churches. They certainly do not build church buildings like they used to!

 

 

 

 

 

Like a lot of rural Iowa, the community's economy is agriculturally based. I found a large co-op elevator.

 

 

 

There's an old but really neat feed store building more in the core of the town. I'm pretty sure it's not used for feed sales anymore but I thought it was quite attractive.

On the southeast side of town is an industrial park. There's a neat (and large) dinosaur located within it. I wonder what the story behind that is?

 

However, I also found several other businesses from trucking and energy to a car wash, seed dealer, and manufacturing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's a wide array of housing in town. I even found a new development where you can get a nice lot for only $500.

 

 

There core of the town has some lovely older homes and some more modest single family dwellings.

 

 

This person had a couple of nice antique vehicles on the premises.

This astonishingly beautiful home is now a museum and I will certainly add it to my Plymouth County list to be part of future adventure.

Of course, there is also a funeral home.

Akron has some high density housing options that are utilized by senior citizens. 

 

 

 

There is a nice childcare center and a medical clinic, both amenities that are important to a community.

 

Out near the golf course is the fire station and another park with a softball field.

 

 

 

There are a few other rural community staples such as a Casey's, a Dollar General (they are showing up everywhere), a bank, and even a thrift store.

 

 

 

Between the highway and the river is Lazy H Campgrounds. They had a gate across the road preventing me from driving in but their Facebook page makes it look like it might be a fun place. I did not grow up in a camping household so it's never been my thing but there are a lot of people who love it!

I hope to spend some time in and around the Loess Hills this summer and fall and if you have the same idea, you might want to start your adventure in Akron. It's a nice and very clean community full of kind people and they host an annual Scarecrow Festival in September. Not to mention, it's a short drive from Le Mars (the Ice Cream Capital of the World) or Sioux City and the large quantity of things always going on there.

 

As always, I welcome your suggestion of places to visit and profile in Plymouth County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would want to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.  

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