It's not Australia, it's Melbourne in Marshall County

May 6, 2019

The city of Melbourne in Australia has nearly 5 million people. The city of Melbourne in Marshall County registers in at around 820. You are for more likely to run into a deer than a kangaroo. Clearly, outside of sharing a name, they don't share a lot of other similarities. However, this particular Melbourne in central Iowa is not without it's small-town charm. Like a lot of other Iowa communities, it was founded with the expansion of the railroad though it has experienced significant tragedies...such as a massive fire in 1903 and a tornado in 1981. It's also the home of the annual "Mousehole Days" festival in early August. I doubt any other community in our state can claim a festival named that!

Located 18 miles from Marshalltown and just off Highway 330, the community advertises on it's website that it is 45 minutes from Ames, 45 minutes from Ankeny, 60 minutes from Des Moines, 45 minutes from Altoona, and 30 minutes from Newton. Thus, it makes for a convenient and versatile bedroom community. 

I left town on the four-lane highway (330) but entered off of a nice two lane blacktop. It offered some nice views of the town and the rolling central Iowa hills.

 

Despite mostly being a bedroom community, there are still some nice businesses, churches, and other amenities. For example, I found a nice swimming pool connected to a community center.

Nearby, is also a city park.

Of course, there is a library and a neat looking postal office building.

I also spotted a police station/city hall and the fire station.

Like a most small towns in Iowa, the local economy is heavily reliant on agriculture. I found a grain cooperative with a number of different grain storage facilities. Additionally, you can probably get livestock feed and other seed, chemical, and fertilizer supplies here.

Nearby, I spotted a veterinary clinic.

There are a couple of other ag related businesses too, including an FS (Growmark) supplier.

 

The downtown area of town has a number of different buildings in various stages of use and condition.

 

 

I found a beautiful mural on one of the buildings.

 

There are a couple of nice churches, too.

I don't know if this unique looking is still in use as it's original purpose (likely a church or a school), but it might now be someone's home. The picture does not do the copper rooftop justice.

The town has a nice variety of housing options. From modest single family homes and apartments to manufactured houses.

 

There is a water tower.

On the east edge of town, I spotted either someone's collection of old stuff or a junk yard - I'm not totally sure which. However, it did seem to be pretty well organized.

 

On the other side of town, I spotted a property surrounded by white fence. I don't know if that is another junk yard or not.

I found an old school building that looked like it had seen better days. 

 

I've never been to Australia, but I can now say I've been to Melbourne, Iowa. My visit coincided with a work trip to Marshalltown for a meeting on a Friday night in late March. That's now been a few weeks so I imagine things have greened up since then.

 

I look forward to getting back to the area again soon as there is a lot to enjoy in Marshall County.

 

As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Marshall County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host teh Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through my website.

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