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Ames Celebrates 150 Years this Weekend

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Loads of Corn

AMES, Iowa- The year was 1863 when John Insley Blair found himself traveling along with Congressman Oakes Ames. The two selected a plot of land near Squaw Creek and the Skunk River for a railroad depot. That depot later grew into the town of Ames. Though Massachussetts Congressman Oakes Ames never set foot in the town bearing his name, he donated a bell to the town’s first church.

This weekend the City of Ames will look back in celebration during the town’s Sesquicentennial. The City has a big celebration kicking off on Thursday July 3 at 6 p.m. with a community supper at Reiman Gardens, followed by free birthday cake, sponsored by Hy-Vee to celebrate the 150th birthday.  There will be a concerts by the Ames Choral Society and the Municipal Band Concert.  The evening will conclude with fireworks sponsored by the Young Professionals.

The weekend continues Saturday with a pancake breakfast at City Hall, a parade downtown, and Chautauqua tent performances.  Chautauqua was a popular combination of education and entertainment started in New York State back in 1874.  A number of Chautauquas were held in Ames over the years.  That is being recreated this weekend.

Chautauqua will continue Sunday. Also there will be numerous musical acts, including Buckwheat Zydeco. A complete list can be found at

Ames has many stories in it’s past. Martin Luther King spoke at Iowa State in 1960. In 1970 the Ames Police Station was bombed injuring a State Trooper. No one was ever charged in the crime. The photo above is from the Farwell Brown Collection of the Ames Public Library.  This is from 1897 when 47 loads of corn were sold to Lockwood Grain.  This was taken at what is now Duff and Main Street, though Main Street was called Onodaga Street. The corn sold for 11 cents a bushel.

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