Stanton, Iowa’s Swedish Capital, Jun 03


Stanton’s watertower coffeepot rises above the treetops.

As you are driving along Highway 34 near the intersectionof 71 in Southwest Iowa, you will see the national symbol of Swedish hospitalityrising 125 feet above the treetops. It is the largest coffeepot in the world,with a capacity of 640,000 cups. This brainstorm of editor Bernie Wickstormwas created in 1971 when the town’s water tank was converted and decoratedwith colorful Swedish designs. It was such a hit that Swedish newspapers ranstories about the “Great Pot” in America, and today it remainsa compelling tourist attraction.

When you arrive in town you will have another surprise. When it was recentlyin need of another water tank, the town decided on one in the shape of a cupand saucer almost twice the size of the original pot. Indiana-based PhoenixFabricators built it and won the “Tank of the Year” award in acompetition among national fabricating companies. Even Starbucks doesn’thave a size this big.

The Frugal Swedes

Stanton and its surrounding communities developed from the Halland Settlement,established in the mid-1800s by the Reverend Bengt Magnus Halland, animmigrant from Sweden, from land he acquired from the B&M railroad.

The Swedish Heritage and Cultural Center, housed in an 1885 building,relates this history with such artifacts as a handmade loom of the 1870s,photos, and the nearby restored one-room schoolhouse, which was in usefrom 1875 to 1954.

Stanton has been known as the “Little White City” since the1920s when conductors on passenger trains going through town pointed outits crisp, tidy look. To this day, every house is painted white. WhenI asked Donald Peterson, president of the Historical Society, why theywere all white, he replied, “I don’t know, but my guess isthat we Swedes have always been very frugal people and white paint wascheaper.”

Mrs. Olson’s Hometown

Those of you who have passed the 50-year mark may remember “Mrs.Olsen,” the kindly Swedish lady who served a good cup of coffee, “TheMountain Grown Kind,” on television ads for Folger’s Coffee a fewyears back. As a Hollywood film star and TV commercial personality, VirginiaChristine is Stanton’smost famous daughter.

Food, Travel, Lodging

Visitors to Stanton will find nothing but an abundanceof small-town hospitality. After touring the visitor’s center andone-room school, you’ll be hungry for local Swedish delicacies,such as special meats, cheese, breads, fish, and candies. Be sure to tryPotatis Korv sausage. The name means “Superbly Swedish,” andit is.
• Swedish Heritage and Cultural Center: 410 Hilltop Rd. (712) 829-2840.
• Lodging: Viking Motel (712) 829-2585
• Camping: Viking Lake State Park (712) 829-2235. Fishing, swimming,boating, playground
• Food: Susie’s Kitchen (712) 829-2947