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    Silos & Smokestacks Honors Those Telling America’s Agricultural Story


    Waterloo, IOWA – Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area (SSNHA) honored the Heritage Area’s finest during its Virtual Golden Silo Barn Party, Nov. 12

    Awards are presented to individuals and organizations whose contributions demonstrate excellence in preserving and telling America’s agricultural story, both past and present. The following individuals and organizations were recognized for their contributions:

    • Outstanding Partner Site

    Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Prairie City

    The Golden Silo Award Partner Site honors a Partner Site who has shown excellence in interpreting the story of American agriculture. Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge is a tallgrass prairie and oak savanna reconstruction project located twenty miles east of Des Moines. The Refuge offers scenic views of over 5,000 acres of tallgrass prairie year-round. It is also home to herds of bison and elk, grassland birds, and numerous other wildlife species. The Prairie Learning and Visitor Center offers interactive exhibits, the Prairie Point Nature Store, and showings of our award-winning film, “Return to Wildness”. Several paved trails are available to visitors in addition to the auto tour route through the bison and elk enclosure.

    • Outstanding Preservation in Agriculture

    Brucemore and The History Center for “100th Anniversary of the Douglas Starch Works Explosion presented by Brucemore and The History,” Cedar Rapids

    The Golden Silo Award for Outstanding Preservation in Agriculture honors an individual, organization, project, business, agency, or local government who has shown extraordinary effort in preserving the icons of American agriculture.

    On May 22, 1919, the Douglas Starch Works, a major producer of corn starch and other corn byproducts, exploded, causing damage across the city of Cedar Rapids. The explosion leveled portions of the Douglas Starch Works plant and resulted in the death of 44 people. SSNHA provided funds to support the Commemorative Programming of the Douglas Starch Works Explosion. One thousand dollars was awarded to each Partner Site, Brucemore and The History Center, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Douglas Starch Works explosion.

    Brucemore delivered a series of interconnected public programs and interpretation including website (, a series of videos and booklet, wreath laying ceremony and chalking our story event.

    The History Center completed a new exhibit and walking tour and held a Memorial Bell Ringing on May 22, 2019 at 6 pm. Their exhibit was on display through the end of the year.

    • 2020 People’s Choice Site of the Year

    Brucemore, Cedar Rapids

    Each year, Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area (SSNHA) celebrates the best in heritage development by presenting the “People’s Choice Site of the Year”. Voted on by the public in March 2020, this special honor is normally presented at Silos & Smokestacks’ Partner Site Annual Training in April. Because the event was cancelled, Brucemore was honored at the \Virtual Golden Silo Barn Party instead.

    Through a network of sites, programs and events, Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area tells the story of farm life and agribusiness—past and present. Visitors can learn about and experience agriculture at a variety of museums, historic sites, and farms. One of 55 federally designated heritage areas in the nation, Silos & Smokestacks is a partner of the National Park Service. The heritage area covers 37 counties in the northeast quadrant of Iowa. To plan your visit, go to

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    PHOTO 1: Brucemore, Cedar Rapids

    PHOTO 2: Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

    PHOTO 3: “Chalking our Story” event in honor of the Douglas Starch Works explosion.

    Topics: General