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Beautiful Rest Stops in Iowa: Harvest Sculpture Artwork

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Sculptures by artist Tom Stancliffe at the Wilton Rest Area & Welcome Center in Iowa

Sculptures by artist Tom Stancliffe at the Wilton Rest Area & Welcome Center in Iowa

Original Art Showcased at Iowa Rest Stops

There are probably some beautiful rest stops in other parts of the United States, but I can truthfully say that those along the Interstate highways in Iowa are some of the prettiest ones that I have ever seen.

They put the ones with which I am familiar in Texas to shame. As the old saying goes, "Everything is bigger and better in Texas." Well not so with regard to rest areas, from my personal experience.

What Are Rest Stops?

Rest stops are important for people traveling across the country for many reasons. In addition to being able to use the toilet facilities, often it is just nice to be able to pull off the road in a safe, lighted area and stretch one's legs and get a little exercise.

Most rest stops have designated areas where truck drivers who do long-distance hauling of supplies can park for a while and even take necessary sleep breaks.

In larger welcome centers, personnel may be on hand 24 hours a day to suggest tourist information for vacationers to their state who may be unfamiliar with what can be seen and enjoyed. Often there are maps and brochures which can be acquired.

Weather and road conditions can be accessed, and they are kept updated frequently for travelers' convenience and safety.

Vending machines are available in which travelers can find various forms of food and drinks. And of course, picnic areas are most often provided, often with covers over them in case of inclement weather conditions.

Closeup photo of the corn-topped sculpture by Iowa artist Tom Stancliffe.

Closeup photo of the corn-topped sculpture by Iowa artist Tom Stancliffe.

Iowa Rest Stops

Okay, you might be thinking. Our area has all of what was just mentioned. So what makes the Iowa rest stops unique? It is the artwork!

The photos of the artwork featured in this post were taken at the Wilton Rest Area and Welcome Center between Davenport and Iowa City off of Interstate 80.

I took these photos long before I had ever thought of writing posts or blogs, so they are limited to just these three pictures. If I were to ever travel in that part of the country again and stop at this particular rest stop and others, I would be sure to take many more photos!

My mother, who was traveling with me, was equally impressed with these 10 stainless steel columns, each topped with a different bronze form representing different aspects found in the State of Iowa.

Who doesn't associate corn and Iowa? I think that when most people think of Iowa they also think of that crop and for good reason.

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The artist Tom Stancliffe who hails from that fair state created each of these, plus one inside the building as well.

Includes lyrics..."the corn is as high as an elephant's eye"...

Pigs, and More

Iowa also has more than its fair share of pigs. More pork is produced in the State of Iowa than any other state in America, accounting for about 40,000 jobs annually and billions of dollars to the state's economy. Around twenty million pigs are raised in the state annually. Thus it is very appropriate that this pig sculpture was an example of things frequently seen in Iowa.

The other stainless steel columns were topped with the following art representations, all of which can be found in Iowa:

  • Acorn
  • Prairie Grasses
  • Fish
  • Book
  • Cone Flower
  • Tractor Tire Track
  • Plow Shares
  • Bursting Seed Pod
Closeup photo of the pig-topped sculpture by Iowa artist Tom Stancliffe.

Closeup photo of the pig-topped sculpture by Iowa artist Tom Stancliffe.

Other Rest Area Themes

In addition to the harvest-themed artwork seen at the Wilton Rest Area, other rest areas in Iowa have some of the following themes:

  • Pioneer Theme
  • Underground Railroad Theme
  • Educational Theme
  • Agriculture (Henry Wallace) Theme
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition Theme
  • Mississippi River Theme

These and more rest stops are artistically created with the use of not only sculptures but mosaic tiles and other artwork making them not only utilitarian but also aesthetically pleasing to visitors who stop and use them.

The State of Iowa continues to demolish the older rest stops, and as they build new replacements, art and artistic design are pushed to the forefront. What a wonderful image that creates for the state, and how very nice for travelers who stop to use the facilities!

So if you find yourself traveling through the State of Iowa, be sure and check out some of these beautiful rest stop areas. I think that you will be amazed at what you find there!

Another beautiful Iowa Rest Stop somewhere between Bettendorf, Iowa, and the road to Peoria, Illinois.

Another beautiful Iowa Rest Stop somewhere between Bettendorf, Iowa, and the road to Peoria, Illinois.

Location of the State of Iowa in the USA

Sources:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Peggy Woods

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