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  • Writer's pictureStreetViewVagabond

Try Again: Menlo, Iowa

I started this blog in 2018 and highlighted a random town in Uruguay. It was so random and I didn't think it was worth pursuing or continuing...but this idea is still gnawing at me on a fairly regular basis and I think I need to pick it up once again. I am not sure what will come of this or even the point of it all but something compels me to continue and to try again.

So here I am in 2020 visiting another random town. I opened up Google Maps and started zooming in on the United States and ended up in Menlo, Iowa. It's about 45 minutes west from Des Moines and a really small place with about 350 people. I found that they have an antique gas station sign of a gas attendant that actually waves and the Menlo Cafe that serves Ham Balls. My goal is to call up some folks in Menlo to get a little more of a backstory to the town and life within it.

One thing to note is that Menlo is on the White Pole Road which was part of an effort in the early 20th century to create a more cohesive road system across the locally governed and many times muddy roads that criss-crossed Iowa. So these poles designated the route to take across the state. Today this road commemorates this local feat by still maintaining 26 miles of white poles dotting the road between 5 towns. Menlo has two of its roads turn into dirt tracks leaving town which could turn into the muddy tracts of yesteryear.

I was able to tour the whole town and saw that it was mostly residential but looks like there is a grain elevator, Short's Bar, a couple churches and a library. I hope to get someone on the phone from the Menlo Cafe who is willing to talk to some random guy from DC about life in Menlo.

In the meantime, enjoy the screenshots of this small community.

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