Alright, boys and girls, time for a quick history lesson. In the early 1700s, two men with Lutheran backgrounds traveled throughout Germany and Switzerland forming small congregations of followers. They believed in a peaceful, quiet way of life and strictly followed scripture. By 1855, this growing community had over 1200 members, and was forced to find land in America. A group found attractively priced farmland in eastern Iowa and built a village. They chose to call it Amana, which means “to remain true”. The village (and six other villages in the surrounding area) were all part of a communal way of life. The community owned the shops, mills, and farmlands in common and individual needs were provided by the community. There were simply no wages whatsoever. This self-sufficient, communal way of life lasted until 1932 when Amana officially abandoned the idea.
Now it is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a major tourist attraction with preserved woodworking shops, wine shops, meat shops, bakeries, and even a brewery. I picked up some homemade horseradish, smoked bratwurst, chocolate, and coffee. I found an enormous campground just outside of the main village, and stayed a few days. The whole area is fascinating, albeit slightly eerie with its homogeneous look. The next time you are traveling on I-80 through eastern Iowa, put the Amana Colonies on your list. And, yes, this is also where the Amana brand (now owned by Whirlpool) got its start. The factory is just on the edge of town.
This concludes today’s lesson. Wasn’t that fun?