Obscura Day and The Forgotten Land

Obscura Day and The Forgotten Land

May 6th was obscura day, a day set aside as such by the website Atlas Obscura.  I planned on going to Brush Creek Canyon Preserve in Fayette county Iowa before I knew this and headed out before sunrise leaving at around 5AM.  The preserve is about 65 miles from my home and this would ensure I would get the best light of the day.  The highway had a large sign stating where to turn and when I went too far I had to turn around.  No wonder I missed the sign as it was very small and attached to a power pole.

On the way down the dead end road I stopped and took a picture of cattle grazing in the pasture of a farm.  The sun had been up for a half an hour and this turned out to make a nice image.

Brush Creek had the intent of being a state park and the CCC (Civil Conservation Corps) were involved with work there building an outhouse and a shelter which still stand today and are in use.  I can assume due to funding the state turned it into a wildlife preserve and I prefer it that way, fewer people means a more natural environment.  I parked the Outlander and put on my hiking boots to make ready.  I carried my tripod, my 24-55mm lens and my Nikon D7100 with my Tonika 11-16mm lens attached.

I had the intent to go to the NW corner of the preserve to catch the spring fed creek in that area and started off staying high on the bluff and following the limestone outcroppings.  Two years ago in September of 2015 my son and I attempted the trip in and it ended up mostly an exploratory thing.


  1. There are no real trails other than those used by the wildlife and the walk was fairly easy considering.  Down below I could here the constant sound of Bear Creek flowing about 100ft below.  I continued on and came to the obstacle that stopped my last trek.  But this time it was different, the water sounds coming from below were not there in September as it was a dry Moine Creek littered with block of limestone boulders.  This time it was a flowing oasis of emerald greens.

The boulders you see in the image above are huge, the large flat one, center and under the fallen tree, was around 20ft long.  There were all covered in moss and ferns.  It took me a while to locate a safe access down into the abyss and I climbed down and into the other world Iowa keeps hidden.

When I got down to the water and on the other side a mink came by.  We both stood and stared at each other each of us surprised there was company in the limestone jungle.  He ran off quickly finding refuge in one of the many holes.  After that I turned and looked upstream to the beauty before me.

I went on sensory overload, the sounds of the cascading water, the site of emerald green dolomite blocks of limestone, this was no longer the Iowa I was used to and I was transported back in time thousands of years ago.   How lucky I was that this time it was not a dry creek and I have not seen a prettier place in my home state than this.

I ended up photographing the complete course and ended up with over 800 images taken, told you I was on overload.

I feel fortunate to witness this small spot in the state and hope that some who sees these pictures would want to venture there also.  Iowa is just not about corn and soybean and is not just flat.  There are many hidden gems in my home state, all one has to do is look.

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