"Get off the Interstate" Top 5 Page for this destination Amana by Toughluck

Amana Travel Guide: 44 reviews and 100 photos

The Amana Colonies have been a landmark on the Iowa prairie for over 150 years - reminding us of a simpler time. A time we often yearn for in today's rush of corporate ladder climbing and the endless pursuit of discount shopping.

The name Amana means to "remain faithful". We have, in many ways, remained faithful to our communal culture; historical buildings have been preserved; the Amana Church remains active; the traditions of quality products are alive in the Colonies. You will not see discount stores or chain restaurants; you will not see large retailers. Even our convenience store was built to respect the architectural traditions of the Colonies.

What will you see in the Amana Colonies? Historical buildings dating to the mid-1850's, made of local materials...wood, sandstone, locally fired brick and limestone. You will discover an amalgamation of architectural styles, coupling traditional German craftsmanship and the straight lines and details of Colonial America. You will see three board wooden fences, fruit trees and gardens. The smokestack of the woolen mill stands stark against the rising sun; the blossoms of the Lily Lake sway gently in the summer breeze.

How Amana came to be

In turbulent 18th century Germany in the midst of a religious movement called Pietism, two men, Eberhard L. Gruber and Johann F. Rock, advocated faith renewal through reflection, prayer and Bible study. Their belief, one shared by many other Pietists, was that God, through the Holy Spirit, may inspire individuals to speak. This gift of inspiration was the basis for a religious group that began meeting in 1714 and became known as the Community of True Inspiration. Though the Inspirationists sought to avoid conflict, they were persecuted for their beliefs. Eventually the Inspirationists found refuge in central Germany.

Persecution and an economic depression in Germany forced the community to begin searching for a new home. Led by Christian Metz, they hoped to find religious freedom in America and left Germany in 1843-44. Community members pooled their resources and purchased some 5,000 acres near Buffalo, New York where, by working cooperatively and sharing their property, the community, now numbering some 1,200 people, was able to carve a relatively comfortable living. They called their community the Ebenezer Society and adopted a constitution that formalized their communal way of life.

When more farmland was needed for the growing community, the Inspirationists looked to Iowa where attractively priced land was available. One valley on the Iowa River seemed particularly promising. Here was fertile soil, stone, wood and water enough to build the community of their dreams.

The Colonies today

The Amana Colonies include [going clockwise from] Amana (upper right), Homestead, South Amana, West Amana, High Amana, and Middle Amana. The visitor center (in Amana) has guides for the driving trail through the Colonies. You can spend an hour, a day, or a week, and not see it all.

Note: none of the other colonies have a VT write-up at this time (Aug 2007)

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A glimpse back into a differenct time.
  • Cons:Can become very busy and crowded.
  • In a nutshell:A wonderful place to explore old buildings and crafts.
  • Last visit to Amana: Jul 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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