A 5 Day Midwest Adventure – Day 4: Omaha, Council Bluffs and offbeat Central Missouri

Home of Sliced Bread - Chillicothe, Missouri
Home of Sliced Bread – Chillicothe, Missouri

After a good day of rest in Nebraska City, we were off the next morning.  My daughter was to meet her friends at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha (which by many reports is one of the Top Ten Zoos in America) and I was going to visit some places in Council Bluffs while they were all at the zoo.  I actually visited the Henry Doorly Zoo in 2012 during the U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials though I didn’t write any blog posts about the visit.  So, I will include some of my photos from my visit as well as a couple of my daughter’s photos.  After my visit to Council Bluffs we were then to make our way east  into central Missouri with a planned overnight stay in Columbia. Following is a map of our adventures!


View Larger Map – Nebraska City – Omaha- Columbia, MO

The early morning drive to Omaha from Nebraska City on Interstate 29 afforded us an opportunity to enjoy a Nebraska sunrise.

Sunrise in Western Nebraska
Sunrise in Western Nebraska
Sunrise over Western Nebraska
Sunrise over Western Nebraska
Sunrise colors behind the Sapp Brothers Coffee Pot Water Tower in Nebraska City, NE
Sunrise colors behind the Sapp Brothers Coffee Pot Water Tower in Nebraska City, NE
I-29 north heading to Council Bluffs
I-29 north heading to Council Bluffs

Before we hit the zoo, we had to make sure the kids got some breakfast.  We saved up for a visit to the International Bakery in the Little Mexico part of Omaha.  This is the ultimate in Mexican Panderias….the protocol consists of picking up a tray and tong by the entrance, and look around the large interior at the myriad choices and then get what you want. Pay the cashier in cash only, but items are either 50 cents or one dollar.  Really cheap and ultra tasty.

Cream Cheese Jalapeno Bolillos - to die for!!
Cream Cheese Jalapeno Bolillos – to die for!!
International Bakery - Omaha, NE
International Bakery – Omaha, NE
Mexican Cake Rolls at the International Bakery
Mexican Cake Rolls at the International Bakery
Mexican Sweets
Mexican Sweets
Shelves of Mexican pastries and breads at the International Bakery in Omaha
Shelves of Mexican pastries and breads at the International Bakery in Omaha
Chocolate Iced with Sprinkles - only 50 cents!!
Chocolate Iced with Sprinkles – only 50 cents!!

Little Mexico not only has this tongue tantalizing bakery, but there is also plenty of eye-filling goodness in the district with beautiful architecture, amazing wall murals and some interesting artwork.

Giant Wall Mural in Little Mexico district of Omaha
Giant Wall Mural in Little Mexico district of Omaha
Close up of a Tom Selleck-esque Bandito
Close up of a Tom Selleck-esque Bandito
Another Little Mexico Wall Mural in Omaha
Another Little Mexico Wall Mural in Omaha
Closeup of an Aztec shooting an arrow
Closeup of an Aztec shooting an arrow
Colorful Buildings in Little Mexico district of Omaha make you feel like you are in Mexico
Colorful Buildings in Little Mexico district of Omaha make you feel like you are in Mexico
Mexican Pottery shop in Little Mexico
Mexican Pottery shop in Little Mexico

Then there are the pieces of art and tile work in the six block area

Tile work on a fountain in Little Mexico
Tile work on a fountain in Little Mexico
Interesting Tree Sculpture in Little Mexico
Interesting Tree of Life Sculpture in Little Mexico
Closeup of the designs on the tree
Closeup of the designs on the tree

The “Tree of Life” was designed and built by RDG Dahlquist Art Studio with Iowa Metal Fabrication.  It is 36 feet tall.  The Tree is actually just the main center piece to a more comprehensive streetscape project that was finally completed in 2013.

One of the Pillars along 24th Street
One of the Pillars along 24th Street

The tree and many of the pillars light up in the evening to add color.  These have become a good drawing card in bringing people to this cultural district of Omaha.

Old Wall Advertisement in Little Mexico District
Old Wall Advertisement in Little Mexico District

After some pastries and a quick jaunt through the cultural district, it was off to the zoo. I had the opportunity  to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo back in June 2012, so I opted out of this so Marissa could enjoy her friends.  But, along with her photos, I am including some that I took last year.

Famous dome for the Desert Exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo
Famous dome for the Desert Exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo
Meep Meep - Roadrunners at the Omaha Zoo
Meep Meep – Roadrunners at the Omaha Zoo
The Meerkats are my favorite animal at the zoo.  This one posed for me!
The Meerkats are my favorite animal at the zoo. This one posed for me!
Lounging Meerkats at Henry Doorly Zoo
Lounging Meerkats at Henry Doorly Zoo

Another great feature of this zoo is the penguins

Penguins at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha
Penguins at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha
Grand daughter Joselyn face to face with a Penguin (photo by Marissa Noe)
Grand daughter Joselyn face to face with a Penguin (photo by Marissa Noe)
A Stately Penguin at the Henry Doorly Zoo
A Stately Penguin at the Henry Doorly Zoo
Sculpture outside the Henry Doorly Zoo's aquarium exhibit
Sculpture outside the Henry Doorly Zoo’s aquarium exhibit

During their visit to the zoo, Marissa and friends made their way to the tropical rainforest exhibit.  I didn’t see this one on my visit.  Here are a couple of pix.

Rainforest bridge at Henry Doorly Zoo (photo by Marissa Noe)
Kids cross over the Rainforest bridge at Henry Doorly Zoo (photo by Marissa Noe)
Monkeys in the Rainforest (photo by Marissa Noe)
Monkeys in the Rainforest (photo by Marissa Noe)

The aquarium has a number of great things besides the penguins.  The Jellyfish are always amazing….

Amazing Jellyfish at Henry Doorly Zoo (photo by Marissa Noe)
Amazing Jellyfish at Henry Doorly Zoo (photo by Marissa Noe)

Just outside of the zoo were too photo-ops – a giant burger clasping King Kong (for King Kong Burgers) and an old Zesto Ice Cream sign at a closed location.  Zesto now only has three locations, all in southern Indiana, where they actually got their start.  King Kong Burger has four locations in Nebraska.  The two were kitty corner from each other at the entrance to the zoo.

Old Zesto Neon near the Omaha Zoo
Old Zesto Neon near the Omaha Zoo
King Kong Burgers in Omaha, near the Omaha Zoo
King Kong Burgers in Omaha, near the Omaha Zoo

As noted above, I didn’t visit the zoo with them, but made my way to Council Bluffs, Iowa, the twin city to Omaha.  It is the county seat of Pottawattamie County (I love that County Name!!!) and is also considered the starting point for the historic Mormon Trail, which is also known as the Emigrant Trail since the Oregon Trail and the California Trail tend to follow the same route for much of the way west.

Welcome to Council Bluffs
Welcome to Council Bluffs

As is evidenced from the Welcome Sign above, Council Bluffs was and is a railroad town. With the completion of the Chicago and North Western Railway into Council Bluffs in 1867, the transcontinental railroad in 1869, and the opening of the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge in 1872, Council Bluffs became a major railroad center. Other railroads operating in the city came to include the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, Chicago Great Western Railway, Wabash Railroad, Illinois Central Railroad, Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad and the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad.  Today there is a nice Railroad Museum and more.

Old Council Bluffs Railway Station
Old Council Bluffs Railway Station
Wide view of Council Bluffs Station
Wide view of Council Bluffs Station
Union Pacific Railroad Museum
Union Pacific Railroad Museum

Finally, as a tribute to the junction of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Rail Lines which were joined together in May 1869 at Promontory Point, Utah with a Golden Spike, the town of Council Bluffs has a commemorative Golden Spike Monument, which was erected in 1939 and stands 56 feet tall.  It can be found at South 21st Street and 9th Avenue in Council Bluffs.

Golden Spike Monument - Council Bluffs, Iowa
Golden Spike Monument – Council Bluffs, Iowa
Sumoflam and the Golden Spike in Council Bluffs, IA
Sumoflam and the Golden Spike in Council Bluffs, IA

More than the railroad, the most striking aspect of Council Bluffs is its collection of outdoor modern art.  That was the drawing card for me. Driving along Interstate 29/80 from the east and towards Omaha, one gets a real glimpse of the artwork.  From a distance one can see what appears to be like 4  giant “Decepticons” from the Transformers movies.  In fact, my 4 year old grandson even said so!!  Actually, the four huge rusty works of steel, named Odyssey, are the handiwork of metal artist Albert Paley.

Odyssey by Albert Paley on 24th Street Bridge in Council Bluffs, IA
Odyssey by Albert Paley on 24th Street Bridge in Council Bluffs, IA

These huge weathering steel structures are from 46 feet tall to 60 feet tall and can be seen from a long ways away.  Each of them is unique.  These were assembled and added here in 2010.

Odyssey by Albert Paley
Odyssey by Albert Paley
Odyssey by Albert Paley, Council Bluffs, IA
Odyssey by Albert Paley, Council Bluffs, IA

The Odyssey pieces were just a small piece of a much larger set of projects carried out by the Public Art and Practice, LLC out of Indianapolis and St. Louis.  In Council Bluffs they created Master Plans for three areas – Bayliss Park, the Haymarket District and the Mid-America Center.  They also oversaw the 24th Street project (above) and the Broadway Viaduct. I made it a point to visit all of these places and got some great shots of the massive art works that were completed.

Mid-America Center Art and Sumoflam
Mid-America Center Art and Sumoflam

The Mid-America Center is right off of the 24th Street Bridge so it was my first stop.  Three different artists were commissioned for work in this Convention Center, Shopping Center and Entertainment district. The first of these was Jun Kaneko, a Nagoya, Japan born artist and now based in Omaha (since 1986). His work at the Mid-America Center is in the form of a sculpture garden and is named Rhythm (see a slide show of the entire plan here). His commissioned sculpture garden includes 21 works of art on 400 feet of patterned granite. These 21 works include 11 columnar-shaped Dangos, 5 wedge-shaped Dangos, 3 bronze heads, and 2 large ceramic walls.

Jun Kaneko's Dangos at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs.
Jun Kaneko’s Dangos at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs
Jun Kaneko Bronze Heads at the Mid-American Center
Jun Kaneko Bronze Heads at the Mid-American Center

The second sculptor with works at the Mid-American Center is New York artist William King, who has three pieces at the center. His three works (Sunrise, Circus, and Interstate) are fabricated of 1″ thick plate aluminum and were installed in October 2007.

Sunrise by William King at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs
Sunrise by William King at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs

One of my favorites pieces from all of my travels, Sunrise memorializes the pioneers.  I like how they have let grass grow around it to give the appearance of the pioneer couple walking through the prairie. This work is 24 feet tall.

Interstate by William King at entrance to Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, IA
Interstate by William King at entrance to Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, IA
Another view of Interstate
Another view of Interstate

Interstate gives the appearance of a driver in a convertible with his hair blowing in the wind. This work is almost 16 feet tall and sits at the corner of 24th Street and Mid-American Drive adjacent to Interstate 80.

Circus by William King at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, IA
Circus by William King at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, IA

The last William King piece is called Circus and is at the West Arena Entrance. This fun piece is 23 feet tall and brings to mind the acrobats of a circus.

Molecule Man by Jonathan Borofsky at Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, IA
Molecule Man by Jonathan Borofsky at Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, IA

Jonathan Borofsky is a sculptor who currently lives in Maine, but graduated in art from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.  I have actually seen two other pieces of his:

Man With Briefcase by Jonathan Borofsky - Fort Worth, Texas
Man With Briefcase by Jonathan Borofsky – Fort Worth, Texas
Walking to the Sky by Jonathan Borofsky in Pittsburgh, PA
Walking to the Sky by Jonathan Borofsky in Pittsburgh, PA

Borofsky’s Molecule Man is immense with each of the three human figures standing 50 feet tall.  The originals of this sculpture were done in Los Angeles and Berlin. Both are 100 feet tall.

Sumoflam and Molecule Man in Council Bluffs, IA
Sumoflam and Molecule Man in Council Bluffs, IA

Just outside of the Mid-America Center is another Sapp Brothers Truck Stop, the ones famous for the Coffee Pot Water Towers.  The one in Council Bluffs is a bit smaller but I was able to get closer.

Sapp Brothers Water Tower in Council Bluffs, IA
Sapp Brothers Water Tower in Council Bluffs

I left the Mid-America Center and then headed into town for a few more sites.  My first stop along the way was to take the Broadway Viaduct and see one of the most unusual pieces of bridge art I have ever seen.

Broadway Viaduct by Ed Carpenter
Broadway Viaduct by Ed Carpenter

The Broadway Viaduct was completed in October 2012 by Portland, Oregon artist Ed Carpenter.

Wellspring by Brower Hatcher in Bayliss Park, Council Bluffs, IA
Wellspring by Brower Hatcher in Bayliss Park, Council Bluffs, IA

Bayliss Park is in downtown Council Bluffs and has been a focal point of the downtown Council Bluffs area since the mid-1800’s Since a renovation in 2007, the park is now filled with unique art, much of which was done by Providence , Rhode Island artist Brower Hatcher. The centerpiece of the park is the amazing Wellspring water fountain. It is not only unique during the day, but has LED lights at night for amazing color shows.

Oculus by Broward Hatcher, at Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs
Oculus by Broward Hatcher, at Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs

Oculus provides entertainment opportunities for the community such as large swing band concerts, and local ballet and theatre performances.

Black Squirrels in Bayliss Park
Black Squirrels in Bayliss Park

Broward Hatcher also designed six black squirrels which are “touchable art”.  The children’s interactive water area includes the six cast black squirrels (in bronze) standing nearly 30″ tall. Integral to the design is a water feature that turns on when activated by children.

Black Squirrel in Bayliss Park
Black Squirrel in Bayliss Park
Sumoflam and Squirrel
Sumoflam and Squirrel

To the side of Bayliss Park is a nice Veteran’s Plaza with a wall that includes the names of all residents who gave their lives to war.  Some unique statues are there, including one of a couple looking at the wall.

Veteran's Plaza in Bayliss Park, Council Bluffs
Veteran’s Plaza in Bayliss Park, Council Bluffs
Veteran's Plaza - Bayliss Park, Council Bluffs
Veteran’s Plaza – Bayliss Park, Council Bluffs

Just a couple of blocks from Bayliss Park is the Haymarket Square District of Council Bluffs. This is a historical shopping district with unique shops, antique stores and old storefronts. Like other parts of Council Bluffs, it has had some unique artwork installed in recent years.

Haymarket District Sign - Council Bluffs
Haymarket District Sign – Council Bluffs
Haymarket District Storefronts - COuncil Bluffs
Haymarket District Storefronts – Council Bluffs

The artwork of Omaha artist Deborah Masuoka has been placed in Haymarket. Masuoka is most recognized for her large-scale “Rabbit Head” sculptures, which are painted in stone-like colors such as cobalt blue, green, rust, burnt orange and yellow. These sculptures can weigh as much as 1200 pounds and are over seven feet in height. Three of these sculptures adorn the island flower beds of the district.

Rabbit Heads by Deborah Masuoka in Haymarket Square, Council Bluffs
Rabbit Heads by Deborah Masuoka in Haymarket Square, Council Bluffs
Rabbit Head - Deborah Masuoka
Rabbit Head – Deborah Masuoka
Rabbit Head - Deborah Masuoka
Rabbit Head – Deborah Masuoka
Rabbit Heads by Deborah Masuoka in Haymarket Square, Council Bluffs
Rabbit Heads by Deborah Masuoka in Haymarket Square, Council Bluffs

Just a couple more blocks away from Haymarket Square is the Council Bluffs Library.  This site also has a couple of unique pieces of artwork.  The most unique is the stack of books called Imagination Takes Flight by Omaha artist Matthew Placzek.

Imagination Takes Flight - Matthew Placzek in front of Council Bluffs Public Library
Imagination Takes Flight – Matthew Placzek in front of Council Bluffs Public Library
Sumoflam at Imagination Takes Flight
Sumoflam at Imagination Takes Flight
Pioneer Relief Sculpture at Council Bluffs Library
Pioneer Relief Sculpture at Council Bluffs Library

Council Bluffs is truly a wonderful, clean town to visit and see some of the great artwork.  I am glad I had the opportunity to do so.  But, I had to head back to Omaha to get the kids so that we could head east to Missouri.  Along the way in to the zoo I ran across some slick Wall Art….

Urban Wall Art in Omaha
Urban Wall Art in Omaha
Wall Art in Omaha
Wall Art in Omaha
Wall Art in Omaha
Wall Art in Omaha

We finally got away from the zoo and commenced to head east to Council Bluffs and then south on I-29. Along the way we passed the Sapp Brothers BIG Coffee Pot Water tower….

Sapp's Coffee Pot Water Tower in Nebraska City
Sapp’s Coffee Pot Water Tower in Nebraska City

And we also passed the small town of Hamburg, Iowa.  I wanted to stop, but we didn’t have time. On a previous trip I did drive into town just to get a photo of this place.  Since I have not included it in a blog in the past, I’ll add it here…

Welcome to Hamburg, Iowa
Welcome to Hamburg, Iowa
Stoner Drug - Hamburg, Iowa - what a name for a drug store
Stoner Drug – Hamburg, Iowa – what a name for a drug store

The drive down I-29 soon had us into the far northwestern corner of Missouri and through some scenic countryside, even for an interstate!!

South on I-29 past cornfields and farmland of NW Missouri
South on I-29 past cornfields and farmland of NW Missouri

After a fairly long drive we were at our next destination – Chillicothe, Missouri.  I wanted to stop here specifically for this….

Chillicothe, Missouri - The Home of Sliced Bread
Chillicothe, Missouri – The Home of Sliced Bread – by Kelly Poling

Yes, Chillicothe is officially the “Home of Sliced Bread” and they are proud of it. They even have a page dedicated to the making of the above mural.  It is HERE. And there is also a page with a pictorial history.  Basically, the story goes that sliced bread was first offered for sale in Chillicothe in 1928. A product of the Chillicothe Baking Company, it was sliced on a Rohwedder Bread Slicer which was invented by Iowa inventor Otto Rohwedder. The owner of the bakery, Frank Bench, became the first commercial baker to slice bread mechanically.  Though I thought this would be the best thing since sliced bread, I was doubly happy to discover that there are many other murals in Chillicothe.  As a “collector” of murals, this was a blast.

Old Chillicothe Train Station Mural
Going Somewhere – by Kelly Poling This is a reproduction of the old Milwaukee Train Depot

Chillicothe mural artist Kelly Poling is responsible for painting at least 17 of the more than 20 larger than life murals in Chillicothe.  Here are a few more of the paintings we discovered while driving around the town.  See more details about the murals HERE.

Chillicothe Business College mural by Kelly Poling
Chillicothe Business College mural by Kelly Poling
Chillicothe Business College as seen with building
Chillicothe Business College as seen with building
Locust Street View - Kelly Poling
Locust Street View – Kelly Poling
The Wave in Chillicothe
The Wave in Chillicothe
Milbank Mills - Kelly Poling
Milbank Mills – Kelly Poling
Portion of Window in Time
Portion of Window in Time
Part of Window in Time -Glove Capital of the World
Part of Window in Time -Glove Capital of the World

Apparently, the Midwest Glove Company was moved from Milwaukee to Chillicothe in 1962.  By the 1970s there were three glove factories in Chillicothe, and it got the name of the Glove Capital of the World.

Silver Moon Plaza in Chillicothe, MO
Silver Moon Plaza in Chillicothe, MO

Silver Moon Plaza is a small park in downtown Chillicothe.  We stopped here to let the kids run around.  It was a wonderfully pleasant day and the kids needed the break.  I did some research about the park and the entry gate, which in and of itself is a unique piece of art. The park was begun in 2007 as part of a revitalization program called DREAM (Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri). The town worked with PGAV Planners, an Urban Planning and Development Company out of St. Louis to work on this project. The focal point is an ornamental metalwork composition depicting local crops: corn, soybeans and wheat. An abstracted lunar cycle icon completes the arrangement and adds a sense of whimsy to the plaza.

Silver Moon Plaza Ornamental Metal Work in Chillicothe, MO
Silver Moon Plaza Ornamental Metal Work in Chillicothe, MO
Old First National Bank Building in Chillicothe
Old First National Bank Building in Chillicothe
Mural in Chillicothe
Mural in Chillicothe
Railroad Boom mural in Chillicothe
Railroad Boom mural in Chillicothe

After our brief stop n Chillicothe, we had two more stops along the way.  The first was to book it to a place just north of Centralia to see something I really wanted to see.  My plan was to visit Larry Vennard’s Metal Sculpture Park, which is actually in Wilson, MO on County Hwy T a bit north of Centralia. So,  we headed east on US Hwy 35 towards Macon, south though Moberly on US 63 and then east on MO Hwy 22 near Sturgeon, MO.  From there we eventually made our way to Larry’s Place.

US Highway 35 East
US Highway 35 East
Rural Scene in Central Missouri
Rural Scene in Central Missouri
Sunset near Centralia, Missouri
Sunset near Centralia, Missouri

Larry Vennard is one of those quiet types who loves what he does and loves seeing his work’s impact on others.  In the same breath as Jurustic Park in Wisconsin, the Porter Sculpture Park in Montrose and a few others around the statesm Larry Vennard’s scrapa metal art would certainly need to be included.  Recently I posted Yard Art: Creativity with Scrap Metal, Chain Saw Art and “stuff” collections about a number of these from around the US and Canada.  I had not yet been to Larry’s and his most certainly fits in.  As such, I am doing a dual post this time with a separate post on Larry Vennard and only a couple of photos here to finish off this post.  See my complete Post HERE.

Larry Vennard - Scrap Metal Artist, Centralia, Missouri
Larry Vennard – Scrap Metal Artist, Centralia, Missouri
Larry Vennard's Highway "T" Rex near Centralia, MO
Larry Vennard’s Highway ‘T’ Rex near Centralia, MO

After our visit with Larry we were off to our overnight stay in Columbia, MO and planned on the last leg of the trip back to Kentucky…

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Sumoflam

Travelographer Extraordinaire. I Enjoy the Ride by traveling and seeing the world around me. We are so busy speeding down the freeways of life that we miss out on the back roads and all the wonderful little stories that every place offers. So, I try to take the less beaten paths and see the real world. I have visited all 50 United States and many provinces in Canada, nearly all prefectures in Japan as well as Seaul, Korea, Shanghai and Suzhou, China and Cenu, Philippines. Also been to Mexico. Father of five, grandfather of 10 and happily married to my sweetheart for nearly 38 years. Fluent in Japanese. Happy and well traveled. See details at http://www.sumoflam.biz/SumoflamBio.htm

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