Just over 21 miles into the day on Friday, you’ll find yourself in the town of Keosauqua. Pronounced Key-oh-Sock-wa, it means ‘Big Bend’. A local pronunciation leaves off the second syllable, and it sounds more like Key-SOCK-wa. Either way, the town is located on the horse shoe bend of the Des Moines River, surrounded by beautiful woodland and scenic views. Those who’ve ridden through Iowa know that scenic views usually means rolling hills, and there are plenty of those here. You’ll find a nice climb waiting for you as you leave town and cross the river. Before the climb, though, take a look over your shoulder back into town for a lovely view of the Hotel Manning across the river.
The Hotel Manning, built in the 1890’s, features Steamboat Gothic architecture. Look closely, and you’ll see flood marks on the side of the hotel, the highest from June 1st, 1903. Another historic site in town is the Pearson House, a stone and brick home built in 1847, and was a station on the Underground Railroad. Van Buren County Courthouse will also attract visitors as the oldest courthouse in Iowa, and the second oldest in continuous use in the United States. Famous Keo residents include Phil Strong, author of “State Fair”, and artist Wendell Mohr.
While in town, stop by the giant bicycle for a great photo op. Food options will include the First Street Grille, nominated as one of the top 10 burgers in the State of Iowa by the Iowa Cattlemen. In addition, there’s the Town & Country Tavern, Riverbend Pizza, Misty’s Malt Shop, Village Cup & Cakes, and Circle B.
Just outside of Keosauqua, riders will find Lacey Keosauqua State Park, which hosts 1653 acres of trees, hills and bluffs – perfect for outdoor activity and sightseeing. As another way to see more of the area, come back and try Bike Van Buren August 17-18, 2013. For more details on RAGBRAI in Keosauqua, visit their website at http://keosauqua.com/ragbrai-xli.html.
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