Community Makes Effort to Save Bowsher Cabin from Demolition

POLK COUNTY, Iowa -- After Fourmile Creek rose to record heights in June, both Polk County and the City of Des Moines bought affected houses in the area that many say should have never been there.

One of those houses purchased by Polk County happens to be an old log cabin with quite a history.

The Bowsher Cabin, a hidden gem of the Des Moines area, is tucked away next to Fourmile Creek just a block away from the Grandview Little League fields off of East 38th Street.

“This was actually owned by my great aunt and her husband and they were the Bowshers and so this area is known actually, it used to be an unincorporated area known as Bowsher, and they had the Interurban Rail Line that went through here and this cabin they used it for events. They would use it for club meetings and family gatherings and things like that. And so it's this kind of a landmark of the area,” Jodi Whisler, with the Forgotten Iowa Historical Society, said.

Whisler said the inside of the cabin tells a story that shouldn’t be forgotten.

“When I walked inside I could just imagine the ladies you know coming in with their dishes for their little meetings that they would have, the ladies meetings and things. There was a little kitchen and they could just sit around I imagine that there was no electricity out here, so I can imagine they had lamps and all those kind of things. They would sit around in a big circle,” Whisler said.

Records show it’s been standing since 1933, but after flooding in June Polk County said it has to come down.

Neighbor Steve Palmer said he’s trying to save it because it still has so much potential and could be tied in with the bike trail that runs right next to the creek.

“You know you could have meetings in here and it could even be a tourist place where people could come and get brochures and could share about the history of the Interurban Trolley System that came down through here,” Palmer said.

Palmer said this cabin is special to him and also its former owner, John. He believes it should be preserved otherwise that history will be lost.

“If you tear it down there's not going to be anymore old cabins. So it’s been here for many years and a lot of people know about this cabin and I don’t want to see it go,” Palmer said.

Polk County Administrator Mark Wandro said the county is in favor of documenting the cabin and preserving it’s history, but they believe it still needs to be torn down because inevitably the area will flood again.