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Get outside: Take a hike

March 27, 2010
By Garry Brandenburg

The observation TOWER is ready for hikers at the Grimes Farm. If you need an excuse to get outside after this long winter, the trails at the farm can give one a very good work out if you try to make good time. However, a slow stroll is also a nice way to enjoy the sights and sounds of the prairie or woodlands.

Taking a hike means just what it says. Just take your time during your foray through the pathways and you will eventually get there. The view from the top is excellent. Many local landmarks are visible from its perspective. Park in the regular lot at the Conservation Center, cross the pedestrian bridge toward the Center and turn a hard left to follow the trail paralleling the ravine. You will be headed southwest. Follow the existing pathways toward the top of the west hill. The hike will require almost 1/2 mile walk one way. Do wear boots that are waterproof due to spring thaw conditions.

The tower construction began last fall with the setting of four large poles. The bases are fourteen feet deep and extend above ground to about 43 feet. Then the grid work for three floors was added by MCCB staffers. The top deck for public access is 33 feet high. The structure now has all its railing and steps in place. Railings were made by Mark Grossman of MG Fabrications. An observation binocular with stand will be added soon.

Article Photos

Marshall County Conservation Board staffers Marty Malloy and Jeremiah Manken are shown working last fall on the roof of the new observation tower at the Grimes Farm. Then the winter set in with deep snow and bitter cold temperatures. Work outside stopped. However, during the winter, all the steel railings were fabricated. Those railings and the final set of stairs have been placed in recent weeks. Now that spring has arrived, it is time to take a hike on the trails at the Grimes Farm. Put the observation tower on your to do list.

Funding for the "Mildred Grimes Memorial Tower" came about from a variety of sources. In addition to memorial donations in honor of Mildred Grimes, major gifts to the project were made by Marshall County Community Foundation, Fisher Controls International, Charlie Grimes Rowenkamp memorial, Rotary Club of Marshalltown, Lela Long memorial, and proceeds from the Grimes Farm Fun Run and IVCCD Run. There were also numerous individual donations to the project. All were needed to make this project a great addition to the Grimes Farm. It compliments existing facilities very well. Enjoy.


Taking a hike is also encouraged at many of the other county conservation areas. For decades, hiking trails at Grammer Grove, the Forest Reserve, Timmons Grove, Sand Lake, The Sand Prairie Preserve, Three Bridges and other sites have offered excellent get-aways for people. If you want to explore any of these places, you are urged to get a copy of a park brochure from the MCCB office at the Conservation Center at the Grimes Farm.


MARCH is a month of fickle extremes. Cold and ugly late snow storms happen. Nice sunny weather is trying to break through persistent clouds. The clouds, snow, rain and wind have had their run. Now it is time for spring to flex its muscles a bit. The battle of weather events may not be over. Thunderstorms may actually be welcome. The inevitable long term outcome is that warmth will return- even if it is slower than we humans would like.

If one was to observe nature with a talented eye, barred, great horned and screech owls are already on nests with soon to hatch young. They know spring is coming. Eggs have been laid and kept warm. The adult owls are dedicated to nest protection and keeping each other fed. Hatching is timed to coincide with a new crop of other furry and feathered critters soon to arrive or wake up from winter hibernation.

Pretty soon it will be April. The likelihood of snow is remote but possible. I'm just glad that March comes before April. The other way around does not sound good at all.

Our little bitty earth (galactically speaking) in its orbit around the sun has a long journey each year. It takes 365 days, plus a few minutes, to make one orbit of over 584 million miles. In one day, our earth travels 1.6 million miles! Divide that by 24 hours and the math tells you and me that the earth and everything on it is going about 67,000 miles per hour. Daylight length is nearly equal to night time at 12 and 12.


Earthly artifacts from times past and cultures long gone will be the subject of the April 3 MCCB ARTIFACT ROADSHOW. Come to the Conservation Center from 9am until noon on Saturday the 3rd to listen and learn from Toby Morrow, author of Iowa Projectile Points. He is an archaeologist with Wapsi Valley Archaeology, Inc. Every year this popular program offers local folks with collections of arrow heads, axe handles and other items picked up from farm fields or stream beds a chance to know what they have. It is an interesting hobby. And like any hobby, it can be casual or serious business. Our human curiosity beckons us to learn.


Today, from noon until 5 pm, the public may view a wide array of taxidermist art at the Regency Inn. Local taxidermists will have several items at this statewide conference and workshop for the Iowa Taxidermists Association. Take time to check out their excellent works.


"Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today, because if you enjoy it today, you can do it again tomorrow." So said Jack Benny.


Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA50005.



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