The world’s largest truck stop includes a barber shop, chiropractor, and a huge museum with antique trucks.
Heading west on Interstate 80 in Iowa, you’ll come across a gigantic billboard proclaiming, “18 miles to WOW!” If you follow the billboard’s instructions and get off at Exit 284, that’s just what you’ll say.
In eastern Iowa, just west of the Quad Cities, lies the Iowa 80 Truck Stop, the largest truck stop in the world. Established in 1964, the Iowa 80 Truck Stop has been dubbed “A Small City” and “A Trucker’s Disneyland,” and to this day it serves as the ultimate one stop shop to make every cross-country trucker feel at home.
Spanning dozens of acres and advertised with the words “Iowa 80” in huge red lettering, the Iowa 80 Truck Stop is impossible to miss. Upon entering the two-story, 55,000 square foot facility, truckers will be greeted by the smells of eight different restaurants, from Dairy Queen to the home-cooked Iowa 80 Kitchen. Past the convenience store and rows upon rows of souvenirs, visitors will descend into the Super Truck Showroom, which has every truck part imaginable on display, plus a gift shop, a towering panel of flashing lights, a game room, and even an embroidery center. Three trucks are on display, including one that is painted with an Iowa-themed mural and another that is constantly rotating in circles.
That’s just the first floor. On the building’s second floor, nicknamed the “Trucker’s Loft,” truckers will find a workout room, old-time gas pumps, and even a walk-in barber shop waiting for them. The Trucker’s Loft also includes a laundromat, a miniature library, a certified chiropractor, the Trucker’s Christian Chapel, and the Driver’s Den, a small movie theatre. Also found at the Trucker’s Loft is the “Interstate Dental,” a dentist shop which has been run by Dr. Thomas Roemer for 23 straight years.
Outside of the main truck stop building you’ll find a hotel, RV camp, truck wash, and “Dog-O-Mat” dog wash. The 40,000 square foot Iowa 80 Trucking Museum, located a few hundred feet north of the truck stop, is home to the REO Theatre, 304 road signs, and 60 antique trucks. Wow indeed!
Off the road on U.S. Route 30 in eastern Iowa, hidden by trees and completely unannounced, Iowa’s little-known American Gothic Barn is a fully painted barn coated in color that would make Grant Wood proud.
Wood’s famous painting “American Gothic” is one of the most parodied pieces of art in modern American history. But if you don’t have time to see the real thing at the Art Institute of Chicago, you can see the next best thing in Mt Vernon, Iowa, where a barn-sized rendition of the classic work is hiding on a private farm.
The large replica of Wood’s painting covers the barn’s entire facade. The barn’s sides are painted to depict a bison in a prairie and an image of the Iowan countryside that inspired Wood throughout his life.
The American Gothic Barn wasn’t actually painted by the farmer who owns the property, but was created by Mark Benesh, who was commissioned by the barn’s owner to replicate Wood’s masterpiece. And for the few who pull over to enjoy the view and snap a few pictures of the barn, Benesh’s endeavor was well worth it.