Before rolling into Thornburg a couple of Saturdays ago, I had never even heard of Ross Santee. Yet, the sign welcoming you to this small Keokuk County town proudly proclaims that this is where Mr. Santee spent his early years.
So who exactly was Ross Santee? Well, I did a little research and it turns out he is probably far more famous in the great Southwest of the United States. Born in Thornburg in the late 1800s, Santee eventually found his way in Arizona in order to make a living as a cowboy. However, his real passion was art and writing and he amassed an extensive collection of works. Most of it is now within the University of Arizona and the Arizona Historical Society. The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin notes that Santee should be considered one of the most influential people of the 1920s because of his many literary creations. Of course, you can find a number of his books for sale online.
However, there is more to Thornburg then just being the home of a man who only spent a few years there. It is also the home of the Trojans of the Tri-County Community School District, one of the smaller school districts in our state.
They have a sizable athletic facility as part of the campus. The town registered fewer than 70 residents as of the last census and so the school campus totally dwarfs the rest of the town.
There is a weight room with a great sign on the outside of. Simple but accurate.
I found some playground equipment connected to it all as well.
Elsewhere in town, I found a few buildings of varying condition and use.
There is a post office building that looks to be made of a manufactured building.
This looked like a neat old church building but it does not appear to be used as such anymore.
There are a number of nice single-family homes in town, with some of them connected to ag land that is mixed within the city.
I even spotted a really cool tree house.
Thornburg is a nice little community which happens to also be home to a famous American author. Now you can impress your friends with this nuggest of Iowa history trivia. I would also imagine that Thornburg is probably one of the smallest towns in Iowa to still have an operating school building.
I look forward to getting back to Keokuk County to do some more exploring and adventuring in the near future.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Keokuk 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 website.