Southwest Iowa is home to several spooky, scary sites that are popular destinations around Halloween. While some stories may just be folk tales, others are well-documented tragedies.
One of the most well-known and -visited sites is the infamous Villisca Axe Murder House in Montgomery County. In 1912, an entire family and two neighbor kids were killed overnight in their home. The killer was never caught. You can now stay in the house overnight, and many people who have done so report that the house is haunted.
Earling, in Shelby County, is the site of a 1973 exorcism that has even inspired horror movies:
Council Bluffs has several reportedly-haunted sites, including the Squirrel Cage Jail and Black Angel Statue in Fairview Cemetery.
In Mills County, Malvern Manor has been featured on two different paranormal TV shows. Serious paranormal investigators have spent significant amount of time at the Manor, and continue to host tours and overnight stays for those interested in learning more or ghost hunting.
What are your favorite spots to visit around Halloween?
Tyler Bartley has been farming with Sown Local Foods farm in Malvern, Iowa for seven seasons. He was initially inspired to start by Jean-Martin Fortier and others, primarily online. Tyler took some small business classes with Iowa Western that helped with the business aspects of starting a small farm, and is currently enrolled in Golden Hills’ Dream to Farm program. Otherwise, most of his knowledge has been gained by experience. Tyler has a marketing and communications background, and has worked a variety of service-sector and manual labor jobs. These skills have come in handy for farming.
Tyler started with Jeremy Davis as his business partner. Now Roger Johnson is his business partner, and the farm includes 5 acres are on Roger's land. Roger was previously Tyler’s father’s business partner for many years.
The farm is located on the west edge of Malvern, partly within city limits. Sown Local started with about one acre on east side of a road, and has now expanded to include an additional 5 acres across the road. The east side of road was once a chicken hatchery and the soil has a lot of gravel. The west side of the road was conventional corn/soybean fields until recently. The west side of the farm runs along Silver Creek and includes a buffer strip of CRP prairie. Due to its low-lying proximity to the creek, the farm is located on a floodplain and has experienced flooding in the past.
The farm had four high tunnels then received Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funding through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for an additional 115’ x 20’ high tunnel that used a Tunnel Vision kit. The farm uses a water wagon for watering. A new well was drilled in 2023 but haven’t tested water quality yet.
During the peak season, Tyler sells 60-100 pounds of greens to Clean Slate, a meal prep business based in Omaha. Sown Local also sells at the Malvern Farmers Market regularly. They used to do Aksarben Farmers Market in Omaha, but not in 2023. Tyler has occasionally sold at the Red Oak Farmers Market too. Sown Local has sold some to FarmTable Delivery, and in the past couple years has used the Local Food Purchase Assistance (LFPA) program to sell food to local school districts in rural southwest Iowa. Tyler is interested in adding a CSA (community supported agriculture), and is gaging interest in that as well.
The farm, like many businesses, has had issues finding high-quality, reliable labor. Currently Tyler and Roger are the only employees. Tyler would like to be farming fulltime with no off-farm job, but still has an occasional part-time job to help pay the bills.
Sown Local uses organic practices but is not Certified Organic. Instead of herbicides, Tyler uses a flame weeder. He is interested in sustainability , and enjoys experimenting with new crops and practices. Tyler also has a foraging license and is interested in selling mushrooms in the future. Stay tuned on future updates from Sown Local by following their Facebook page and Instagram.
The Loess Hills National Scenic Byway offers over 200 miles on paved roads, plus over 150 miles of excursion loops on paved and gravel roads. Driving the entire byway and its loops will take more than one day. However, if you want a scenic fall drive to view the spectacular fall colors, we've compiled a list of six routes that take in various sites along the byways. Stop in the communities along the way for local flavor, from restaurants to shops. Fall is a wonderful time to explore the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway!
Waubonsie, Riverton, Sidney, and Thurman
Tabor, Glenwood, and Pony Creek Lake
Loess Hills State Forest
The next two weeks will be peak fall color viewing in most of western Iowa. The Glacial Trail and Western Skies Scenic Byways offer travelers, both local and out-of-state, wonderful opportunities to visit rural Iowa. While you can certainly travel the entirety of each byway in one day, below we have selected two specific routes to optimize your fall scenic drive. Each itinerary suggest stops along the way, from scenic viewpoints to state parks. Take our recommendations, but also venture off the beaten path to see truly remarkable and beautiful slices of rural western Iowa.
The bridge over the river in Linn Grove is not yet officially open, so continue east on County Road C13 towards Sioux Rapids. Turn north on US-71 and go through the town of Sioux Rapids. After lunch at the Wagon Wheel Bar and Grill, continue north on US-71. After crossing the Little Sioux once again, turn west onto N River Rd. If you enjoy wine, stop at InnSpiration Wine and Vines just north of Linn Grove. Continue west on N River Rd/CR-51, cross CR-M36, and after passing the Lois Tiffany Prairie, turn north onto CR-14. When you reach IA-10, make a stop at Bertram Reservation for a nice hike to walk off your lunch. Then continue west on IA-10 to Peterson to see the Fort Peterson Blockhouse and Kirchner Park.
The Iowa DNR estimates that peak fall color viewing in west central Iowa will be from October 8th to the 14th. As of September 25th, some shrubs and trees are just starting to turn on the drier slopes. Lots of fall prairie flowers in bloom.
The next stop is Springbrook State Park. You can take IA-141 to Bayard and then IA-25 south to the state park. If you are feeling more adventurous, take the country roads but be mindful of farmers harvesting their fields. Springbrook State Park is a quiet retreat in Guthrie County, encompassing 930 acres of rolling hills and mature timber, perfect for fall viewing.
Continue on to Panora to rejoin the Western Skies Scenic Byway. Head south on CR-P28 and stop at Nations Bridge Park. Download the self-guided nature trail brochure, which will help you identify the trees and their beautiful changing leaves.
After your stroll, head to Stuart to drive White Pole Road Scenic Byway, a 26-mile scenic and historic byway that runs parallel to Interstate 80 from mile markers 76 and 100 and connects the communities of Adair, Casey, Menlo, Stuart and Dexter, Iowa.
After reaching Adair, continue west on CR-F65 to visit one of the most unique intersections in the state of Iowa. The Tree in the Road is a cottonwood that has become a landmark in Audubon County. The story is when the county lines were being established the surveyor placed a green cottonwood stick into the ground at the exact point where the lines crossed and grew into the present tree.Some shrubs and trees are just starting to turn on the drier slopes. Lots of fall prairie flowers in bloom.
Fall is the perfect season to visit a farm for family fun! Pumpkin patches, corn mazes, u-pick orchards, cider, live music, games, and more! Check out our list of farm fun on or near western Iowa's scenic byways.
Holly View Acres has designed the greater area’s most extravagant corn maze! Check out the scene for 2023, “Faithful in All Seasons”, covering 9 acres of corn, which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour to navigate. It is stroller-friendly and yet a physical and mental challenge. Follow along with your map as you find 5 different checkpoints which can be turned in for a prize following the maze.
FAMILY FUN Attractions
Corn Kernel Beach
September 15 to October 28
Friday 2pm - 6pm
Satruday 10am - 6pm
Sunday 1pm - 5pm
2941 Moville Blacktop
Hornick, IA 51026