Day 5: Elk Horn, IA

Trip Start Jul 21, 2010
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Trip End Jul 29, 2010


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Where I stayed
Danish Inn

Flag of United States  , Iowa
Sunday, July 25, 2010

We spent most of today driving, except for the middle part of the day which we spent in Elk Horn, IA.  There is nothing in Elk Horn particularly related to Laura Ingalls Wilder or even pioneers days, but we've reached the point in our trip where we are heading back east and just need some things to do to fill the breaks in driving.

We ended up in Elk Horn because Mom had seen in Roadfood that they were known for their Danish heritage, specifically the Danish Inn restaurant.  The Inn is set against a picturesque giant windmill in a town that is clearly proud of its Danish heritage. There is an American and a Danish flag on each lamp pole through the center of town. Apparently Elk Horn and Kimballton (the town right next door) are the Danish cultural centers of the United States...who knew?  I wouldn't call the restaurant spectacular, but it definitely had some local flavor (i.e. lots of biker babes) and a good, eclectic Sunday brunch buffet.  

After lunch we decided to explore Elk Horn's Danish heritage more by going to the Danish Immigrant Museum, just up the street.  The museum was surprisingly well done.  The main exhibit covered Danish immigration trends since the 1940s, including a fascinating section of Danish Jews during WWII.  The museum itself is in the middle of nowhere; from the parking lot you can hardly see any other buildings, nothing but rolling hills of corn and other vegetables and wildflowers.  The weather was beautiful and the sky was an incredible blue with huge, fluffy white clouds.  We followed the "Friends Walk" from the side of the museum out a path to a local restored house.  The "Bedstemor's House" is set up like an Danish Grandmother's house from the early 1900s (Bedstemor means Grandmother in Danish).  There were some interesting artifacts inside, but more interesting was the history of the house, which was built in 1908 by a Jens Otto Christiansen, a Danish immigrant, Elk Horn businessman, and quite a character. (The plaque about him in the house says that for a birthday present to himself he once had the local paper publish his obituary because he thought his friends would probably rather read about him while he was still around to talk to them about it).

More pictures of Days 5 and 6 at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=193525&id=837899636&l=2613d68c03
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