"Five Small Towns"
Audio Tour of the White Pole Road In Central Iowa
Stretching from Cape Cod to the west coast, much of old U.S. Highway 6 was characterized by telephone poles painted in white, to keep travelers from finding themselves lost along the route. Unlike the interstate highways of today, the old highway passed right through the hearts of hundreds of towns. Each has its own distinctive history. Many of these towns withered away when the highway system moved outside the towns.
White Pole Road Development Corporation
Five communities along a 26-mile segment of the old highway west of Des Moines have banded together to try to bring travelers back into the towns. They are Adair, Casey, Menlo, Stuart and Dexter. The White Pole Road Development Corporation has endeavored to call the attention of the outside world to the many historical and cultural attractions along the route. The signs along the route have been painted white. as they were in the hayday of old Highway 6. The corporation has developed a website to advertise what these five towns have to offer.
A detailed map of some of the White Pole Road attractions can be downloaded from the website.
Self-Guided Tour CD & My Song
Now available in Caseys General Stores in towns along the route are White Pole Rode self-guided tour CDs. Produced in 2007, the CDs allow travelers to visit area attractions at their own pace. The entertaining dialogue on the CD adds an addiional dimension to a trip to this area.
In late 2007, producer Liz Gilman approached me with the opportunity to write a song for the CD. What I came up with is a tune entitled "Five Small Towns", the last song on the CD. It was recorded at Radio Garage in Urbandale, Iowa, features Steve Matthews (the mail voice on the CD tour) on drums and me on all the other instruments, and can also be heard on the White Pole Road Development Corporation website.
What You'll Find on the White Pole Road Tour
To get the full treatment, stop at a Caseys General Store along the route, or check out the White Pole Road Development Corporation website. But there's some serious history in that area. In July, 1933 the Barrow Gang, led by the notorious Bonnie and Clyde, were camping out when they were ambushed by law enforcement. Bonnie and Clyde barely escaped with their lives. Clyde's brother, Buck, however, was not so lucky. He died from his wounds not long afterwards. Bonnie and Clyde returned the following April to rob the First National Bank in Stuart -- which now, believe it or not, is the local police station.
But the Barrows weren't the only legendary outlaws to make history along the White Pole Road. The tour actually begins on a small hill just a mile or so southeast of Adair. This is the spot where Jesse James and his cohorts derailed and then robbed a moving train. It was the first robbery of a moving train in the United States.
There's a whole lot more. . .