Members of the Central Iowa Model A Club traveled into the city as part of the club’s 24th annual Great Annual Model A Ride Around Iowa. The old-timey car enthusiasts were in Council Bluffs late Wednesday and early Thursday morning, visiting historic locations including the Union Pacific Museum, the Historic General Dodge House and the Golden Spike Monument.
The riders referred to the event as GAMARAI — in reference to RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) — as both trips take the participants through parts of Iowa.
Elroy and Dot Gertner of Papillion, Nebraska, took part in the ride this year in their 1930 Ford Model A. Elroy bought the car in 1969 and spent 38 years restoring it with lots of “love.”
“He had one as a teenager,” Dot said. “They’re so cute, like little toys.”
The cars were certainly attention-getters. Several people driving and walking near the museum stopped to take photos of the cars and chat with the enthusiastic owners.
“The tour’s been good, we started in Des Moines, we had lunch in Corning, we spent the night in Clarinda, the next night we spent in Nebraska City (Nebraska) and last night was here in Council Bluffs,” said club president Clarence Cory of Ames.
The group visited the Museum of American Speed in Lincoln and the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City. Some of the southwest Iowa historical attractions the group visited included the Villisca Ax Murder House in Villisca, the Glenn Miller Museum and Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum in Clarinda, the Iowa Walk of Fame in Shenandoah, and the Nishna Heritage Museum in Oakland. On Thursday, the club took a private tour of the Union Pacific Museum.
“This is my 23rd out of 25 rides. I’ve been (to the museum) about six times,” said club member John Wilson of Des Moines. “We’ve had a good trip all of the people have been friendly.”
The ride lasted four days so far, and Wilson said the worst issue they’ve faced so far getting to Council Bluffs has been an engine.
“We’ve had to rebuild one engine and I had to fix a guy’s car to keep it running yesterday, but other than that it’s been a smooth trip,” he said.
After the Union Pacific Museum tour, the group drove past the Black Angel Statue before lunch and the trip back to Des Moines.
“It’s a real beautiful large sculpture of a black angel, and it’s really unique in the United States,” Cory said. “There are a very limited number of sculptures like that in the U.S. We figured while we’re here let’s drive by it and check it out.”
He said part of what brought the group to Council Bluffs was the numerous entertainment options the city offered, including the museums and casinos.
“I think everyone has thoroughly enjoyed the stay here in Council Bluffs,” Cory said.
— Managing editor Courtney Brummer-Clark contributed to this report.