Last week, I had the opportunity to get a personal tour of the famous Todd House down in Tabor. I had heard a lot about the place over the years - knew it had a lot of history behind it and a connection to the Underground Railroad - but had never actually seen the place in person.
Wanda Ewalt of the Tabor Historical Society showed me around and shared some fascinating information about the Rev. Todd, his strong abolitionist views and the impact he had on Tabor in the community’s early years. I came away very impressed and asking myself why it took me so long to finally pay a visit to this remarkable piece of history.
I’m a person who enjoys traveling and experiencing new places, but as I was reminded last week, too often we take things for granted that are right under our own nose. Going to the Todd House reminded me we have some neat places to see and events to experience right here in Mills County and southwest Iowa. With gas prices soaring in the direction of $4 a gallon, this might be the perfect year to stay close to home and take in some local attractions and recreational opportunities. If you’re looking for something fun to do this summer, consider one or more of the following options:
Catch an evening show at the Davies Amphitheater. I’ve always considered this facility to be the crown jewel of our community, but I’m amazed when I hear “locals” say they’ve never been to a show there. The setting is picturesque, the entertainment is usually top notch and admission is always affordable.
Visit one of our museums. Like the Davies Amphitheat-er, the Mills County Historical Museum doesn’t get the appreciation or support it deserves from local residents. The museum volunteers do a wonderful job with the displays and keeping the facility looking up to date. The Indian Creek Historical Museum west of Emerson has an outstanding collection of farm machinery and offers some cool demonstrations during the Harvest Days celebration. Then, of course, there’s the aforementioned Todd House in Tabor. The history behind the place really is fascinating.
Spend a day or an afternoon on the Wabash Trace Nature Trail. If you don’t have a bike, walk it. It’s hard to believe there was actually controversy and strong opposition to the trail before it was built in the early 1990s. I think the trail has been nothing but a positive for Mills County.
Enjoy a picnic or a hike at one of our parks or county recreation areas. Mile Hill Lake and Pony Creek Lake come to mind.
I’ve never done it, but canoeing on the Nishnabotna River sounds like a fun time.
Visit one of our local wineries. The Southwest Iowa Wine Trail is growing every year and becoming a destination attraction. We already have King’s Crossing, Sugar Clay and Prairie Crossing within a short drive of Glenwood and this summer we’ll see Vine Street Celllars open up on Town Square. Can’t wait.
Think about taking in one of our special events. Obviously, it will be a huge deal when RAGBRAI visits this summer, but remember there’s more to it than just the big party that goes on Saturday evening. If you have the opportunity to get out on the route Sunday morning, do it. It’s really cool just to sit and watch the endless stream of cyclists in their colorful attire ride by.
If you like Farmers Markets, you have two outstanding choices - Saturday mornings in Silver City and Wednesday evenings in Glenwood.
Finally, don’t forget about the annual events, like the Mills County Fair in Malvern, Keg Creek Days at Glenwood Lake Park, Maui In Malvern, Emerson Days or Whistlestop Days in Pacific Junction.
There’s plenty to do right here in our own backyard. This year, make it a point to see and experience a piece of Mills County.