A boisterous laugh escapes my lungs as I see the most peculiar thing sitting next to a corn field. A castle, or at least a building that was obviously designed as one. What the heck is something like that doing out here. I’m literally hours away from any city and the towns I’ve been going through have had less that one thousand residents. These facts add to my bewilderment as I park next to what looks like it is supposed to be a guard tower. Looking to my right, I see a Culligan Water dealership and know that it must be fate that has brought me here as Emmett Culligan was my great grandfather. That seals the deal for me and I know that this is a town that was made for me to spend some time exploring.
I drive further down the road and realize that this entire town has taken on this midevil theme. It’s quite comical to me though, as it doesn’t seem like it is historically accurate in any way. The closest thing I can compare it to is a mini golf range gone wild across an entire area. The construction seems rather cheaply made out of stucco and walking throughout the parks, I feel as if this town was once a theme park that the workers decided to turn into residences. I was sure that there had to be more to the story though, and I knew that the only place I would find out more was in town.
The further I drove into the center of the community, the more of these buildings I saw pop up. There was an events center, complete with draw bridge and lake containing an old ship, a turret marking the entrance of the local golf course. The biggest building in town seemed to have towers attached to every corner. I walked along the streets in awe, marveled by the dedication of whoever made this construction happen. Eventually I reached a park whose centerpiece was a castle containing a roller rink. There, I was able to learn some history of how all of this came to be.
It all started with Byron Godbersen, the owner of the local business Midwest Industries and one of the bigger employers in the area. In 1969, he constructed the private Lake LaJune (aptly named after his wife) which was intended to be used for marine shows and research. Happy with the results the lake, he slowly started adding more and more mid-evil themed aspects to properties he worked on and within the next 15 years, the entire town was dotted with these little gems.
The town was a nice reprieve from the endless corn fields I had been driving through and after a couple of hours, it was time to continue on my way. Before going though, I drove through the “La June Estates”, Godbersen’s neighborhood where most of the huge houses stood in great contrast to the humble city below. As I watched the sun set over windmills, I continued to laugh at the sheer absurdity of it all, coming to a house complete with draw bridge and moat. This sealed the deal for me and I now give Ida Grove a 9/10 on the scale of “need to check this place out”.
Closest Supercharger Shelby IA 65 mi
12 Eastern Ave, Shelby, IA 51570
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