South Central: July 2008 Archives

Darlene's Place - Ellston, IA

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darlene_1.jpgWe pulled in the town of Tingley, looking for a small rural bar that our information said should be here.

We searched up and down every road in town, and while we found plenty of construction barricades blocking the main road to the east, we couldn't find our bar. So we stopped at a general store where I asked one of the locals for directions.

"We used to have a bar," said a customer at the counter, "but the crazy people of this town went and voted to make this a dry town. So now the closest bar is over in Ellston."

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"Ellston? How do I get there?" I asked.

"You gotta take that closed highway," he replied. "Just go around the barricades and drive on through. No one is working today."

We made our way back over to the barricades, drove around them, and traveled for miles down a series of narrow, gravel highways that looked like they had been bombed. Periodically we'd have to weave left or right to avoid large holes and open trenches. The roads through here carried multiple routes, creating street crossing signs like the one shown here.

We finally found Ellston and it only took a few moments more for us to find our destination, Darlene's Place.
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We sat at the short end of the L-shaped bar under the watchful eye of a mounted goat head smoking a cigarette (similar to the one shown here). To our left a couple of weathered farmers were having a drink.

"We've got a population of, oh, about forty*," one of the farmers told us, "so we're awful lucky to have this place."

This is one thing we love about this area of Iowa. No matter how far it is from the main highway, no matter how small it is, you can almost always count on finding a place to stop and share a drink with the locals.

As we finished our beers, two young future regulars came in for some root beer. Hopefully Darelene's will still be there for them when they come of legal age.

We still had more places to see, so we said goodbye to our friends at Darlene's and got back on the gravel highway towards our next destination.

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*55, according to the US Census 2006 estimate

Darlene's is easily found on Main Street (CR-J20) in Ellston, Iowa. Ellston is 17 miles west of I-35 exit 18 on CR-J20, or 7 miles east of US-169.


Main & Blaine, Ellston, IA  

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This page is a archive of entries in the South Central category from July 2008.

South Central: August 2008 is the next archive.

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