marion iowa


In Spring, we tend to focus on the blooming flowers.  The conifer bloom is equally magnificent! (click onto each photo to enlarge)

“I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe?”   -Kate Chopin


Not that anyone really cares, but it was ten years ago today…on a Saturday, too…when our downtown area was hit by a huge fire that destroyed a fairly large portion of one of the downtown blocks.  The fire burned too intensely and the damage was too great for them to ever determine a cause, but they suspected it started in the heating system.  It smoldered for a good week afterwards, just like the Spahn & Rose Lumberyard fire on Christmas Eve of 1983, another biggie fire.

For point of reference, the picture on the top was taken from the front of the building I lived in, so the fire was only about a block from where our building was at.  The fire broke out early in the morning, like around five or so, and they didn’t get it put out until late that night, fighting it in below-zero windchills.  If you look close in the one picture that was taken from the front of the building, there’s actually two aerial trucks fighting, the one truck is in the far right corner of the pic, mostly hidden by the tree but if you look you can see part of the ladder and the water stream.  The picture that is taken at the back of the building with the fire truck in the lot, you can just barely see the orange glow of the flames beneath the smoke and from where I was standing at, you could hear the roar and crackle of the flames.  They wound up bringing a steam shovel in to knock the back of the building down to gain better access to the flames..have some pics of that but they’re not very good.  The five departments that provided additional manpower and trucks to cover the rest of the city were Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, Robins, Springville, and Mount Vernon, while Central City was on standby.

As you can guess, this was pretty big news in our area, and as you can also guess, I am one of those weird people who takes pictures of disasters.  The antique mall and the pharmacy were rebuilt and still are in operation today. 


Bussey, Iowa
Population: 422

“Jesse Bussey, originally from Greene County, Pennsylvania, bought the land for the town of Bussey in 1867. He laid out the town of Bussey on the line of the Albia, Knoxville and Des Moines Railroad in 1875, the same year the line was acquired by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. Mr Bussey went into the lumber and grain business there. By 1880, the population was close to 100, with four general merchandise stores and one drug store. The town was incorporated in 1895. There were some problems with the initial incorporation, so a second vote was held in 1899, after which James Bussey was elected as the first mayor.”


Knoxville, Iowa
Population: 7,313

“The site for the future county seat of Marion County was selected because it was within a mile of the geographic center of the county, reasonably level and near a good source of timber. The first town lots were sold in 1845, and the town was named after Knoxville, a small town in Iowa which was created in 1845 to be the county seat for Marion County.”


Otley, Iowa
Population: Unincorporated

“Otley is a small unincorporated community in Marion County, Iowa, United States. Governed by state laws and county ordinances. It is located approximately 45 miles southeast of the capital, Des Moines, on Iowa Highway 163. The US Post Office has a ZIP Code of 50214. Otley has one post office and is home to Van Haaften Racing, Mills Mid-Iowa Machinery, LLC, Otley Reformed Church, and Two Rivers Co-op. Otley was originally a coal-mining town and became agricultural after the mine shut down.”