As a photographer, I love winter frost. Especially when you can photograph bright vibrant frost against deep blue skies. One evening in early Jan 2021, central Iowa was immersed in fog and the forecast included dropping temps. So I checked the maps to look for the lowest visibility in the fog, which at the time was Marshalltown.
I woke up extra early and hit the road before the sun was up. When I made it to Marshalltown, I was treated to a fresh glaze of frost on everything.
My first stop was the Grimes Farm Conservation Area which is just west of the city limits of Marshalltown. The land was purchased by Leonard and Mildred Grimes back in 1964 and they worked to restore the land. That same year, they also invited local elementary students to the farm for an outdoor classroom experience. By 1992, the Grimes family donated sections of the land to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.
Location of Grimes Farm Conservation Area: 2349 233rd Street Marshalltown, IA, 50158
A conservation center was built on the property in 2003. The center features spaces for exhibits, classrooms, and meetings.
In 2009, an observation tower named “Mildred’s Tower” was built on one of the tallest hilltops on the property. It’s a great location to bike or hike to the tower to enjoy the view.
I then drove east on 233rd Street heading towards Marshalltown. I made a few quick photo stops along the way as I encountered some areas of interest.
In town, I drove along the south edge of Elwood Country Club and spotted a bald eagle perched high up in a tree.
I also headed east of town to visit the infamous “paint road”. Technically, it’s 240th Street, a section of two lane road that used to be abandoned but now has a new business at the end of the road that just opened in the last few years.
When the road didn’t contain any local businesses, it was used as a dumping area for the road painters and sprayers – so this road is literally covered a crisscrossing, crazy looping lines. Many of the lines still exist today, but my guess is that they will eventually fade away, as its unlikely that they will ever dump excess spray on this road again.
After Paint Road, I headed east of town, and with the clouds completely cleared, the frost-covered trees glistened against the dark blue skies… I stopped to take a few additional photos of the frosty scene against this farm – but then my time was up and I needed to start my travels back to Des Moines.