Taylor County

The Lenox Area Chamber of Commerce is proud 07-23-15_5050of the community of Lenox and encouraged by our
continued growth and dedication. The commitment of the business owners and residents has been tremendous and certainly shows with a thriving Main Street as well as expanded businesses in town.

We continually strive to promote the community, businesses and take great pride in Lenox.  Together we can do more is only a motto; but truly how Lenox approaches each day.

Lenox Area Chamberof Commerce
200 1/2 South Main Street
Lenox, IA 50851
Phone: (641) 333-4272



LaDoga LaBlanch Orchards

Home of the Little Red Schoolhouse Junction of Hwy 2 and Garden Ave.
Bedford, Iowa 50833, 712-303-7766

Lenox Municipal Swimming Pool

Lenox City Park
Lenox, IA

Lenox Restored Depot

Lenox, IA

Rainbow Iris Farm 3149 Kentucky Avenue Bedford, IA 50833-8039

Phone: 712-523-2807
Email: irisfarm@frontiernet.net

Spring’s General Store & Cafe

Main Street
Sharpsburg , IA

The Heritage

Restored 1904 Victorian Home
300 N. Main St., Lenox
319-360-2163 for information


Lake of Three Fires Cabins

2303 Lake Road, Bedford, IA 50833
712-523-2700 or 1-877-427-2757

PJ’s Inn

306 N. Elm St., Lenox, IA 50851
641-333-2731 pjsinn@lenoxia.com

The Farmer’s Dotter

A Quilt Retreat & B&B
1831 State Hwy. 2, Bedford, IA 50833

The Old Barn

611 King Street, Blockton, IA 50836
712-303-1367 or 641-788-3187

Skylark Motel

108 Pearl Street, Bedford, IA 50833


City Parks

Blockton, Clearfield, Conway, Gravity, Lenox,
New Market, Sharpsburg

LaDoga LaBlanch Orchards

Home of the Little Red Schoolhouse
Junction of Hwy 2 and Garden Ave.
Bedford, Iowa 50833, 712-303-7766

Lakes of 3 Fires State Park

2303 The Lake Road, Bedford, IA.
Park Ranger – 712-523-2700

Sand’s Timber Recreation

Co. Road J55, Blockton, IA.
West of Yellowstone Ave.

Windmill Lake

East of New Market, IA.

Wilson’s Lake

South & East of Lenox, IA.
Managed by Taylor Co. Conservation Board

Bringing a Gem Back to Iowa

Times have surely changed in small towns from the old time theatre that provided live entertainment, to the first moving pictures and now to high definition 4D and beyond.  We wax nostalgic of this long forgotten era of the first real to real movies with the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, Gary Cooper, Lillian Gish, Buster Keaton…… and this list goes on.

Lenox once had several movie theatres with one that holds particular interest, the Lenox Theatre. In speaking with Betty Holben wife of Gene Holben, Fred and Clara Holben were the first owners of the theatre with Herman taking over in 1914.  In the History of Lenox, Iowa 1872 – 1972 Centennial book this information was provided “ The Holben family has been giving the best in moving pictures for fifty years, keeping the equipment up to date and providing for the comfort of patrons. Fred Holben first owned the theatre. He sold it to his son Herman and daughter-in-law Elsie. After Herman’s death in 1936 Elsie and her son Gene have owned and operated the Lenox Theatre, with family pictures three nights a week, usually a Saturday matinee.” You can still see the old marquee front gracing this same building which is now closed and was last occupied as a Breadeaux Pizza.

In that theatre there was a hand painted curtain that hung, covering the stage and was dramatically drawn up when the movie started.  This curtain was a work of art with advertising of local businesses of those times. E.Wright Jeweler, Killion & Porter Clothing and Shoes, GF Cheese General Merchandise, House Furnishings and Undertaking O.P. Arnold, GH Lyddon Groceries, Farmers & Merchants Bank, First National Bank, William L. Dey Ermand Haberdashery, W.P. Oliver Garage, Rexall Drug Store E.J. Nesbit, Lenox Mercantile Co. with a few more advertisers as well. At the present time we are unsure of the date it was hand painted but we believe it may be close to 100 years old.

The curtain was attached to a drum and was raised by a hand crank.  When the curtain started to rise,the audience’s applause filled the theatre, which then settled in to watch the newest feature film. You can almost feel the atmosphere back in the 1910-1920’s just by viewing this gem of history.  Back Then Elsie Holben played the piano for the silent movies.  As a child Betty “Reynolds” Holben sold popcorn for .10 cents to patrons often setting up the popcorn popper on the side walk to entice folks to splurge on popcorn and a movie.

Sadly the theatre closed March 6, 1977. Somewhere along the way the curtain and drum were sold at auction in Clearfield, Iowa and Lenox lost track of this great piece of history.  In fact Betty Holben has no  recollection of the curtain, so by all accounts it had been sold quite some time prior to her popcorn selling days. By chance, friends of friends stumbled across it in an antique store in Ollie, Iowa, sending pictures which inspired the hope of bringing it back to Lenox to be displayed for all to see.

We are in the process of raising funds to purchase the curtain.  The dream is to bring it back to Lenox, to be displayed in a public setting for all to enjoy.  A protective frame will be needed and perhaps some restoration but we are committed to bringing this great work of art and history back to town. Donations may be sent to Lenox Area Chamber of Commerce, 200 ½ South Main Street, Lenox, IA 50851.  The Chamber may be reached at 641-333-4272.  Lenox is a great place to live, work and play.  We invite you to plant your roots in Lenox!

Ladoga LaBlanche Orchards

Johnny Appleseed never actually traveled to Iowa, but you can hear his story and meet the man who loves to tell it when you visit Ladoga LaBlanche Orchards, 1598 State Highway 2, Bedford, Iowa 50833.
Steven Wainwright and his wife Cynthia live and farm the only orchard in Southwest Iowa.


The Edgar Wainwright Century Farm of 1875 had a large prosperous orchard of 1000 trees. In the late 1920’s the orchard died out, but Steven and his father Edgar Wainwright started planting again in 1979. Every year Steven plants 100 trees and now has 12 varieties of apples along with peaches and cherries.
The orchard and vegetable farm is open to the public from July to November. You can come and pick your own fruits and vegetables. Bring the family and have a marvelous day . Steven admitted the weather with its varied temperatures, make it hard to grow fruit. But he must be doing something right as he now has 1000 trees again!
Steven provides free consultation to anyone wanting to know how to prune or take care of their trees. He has built a “little red school house” on the property to honor all Taylor County teachers and his mother Mary Helen Wainwright who taught school in Taylor County from 1926 – 1996. Mary still lives on the farm.
Tours are available by appointment. Groups and students from around the area come for fun, hayrides, special cookouts and stories with “Johnny Appleseed”. The North West Missouri State women came this fall to glean the apple trees and distribute the apples to food pantries in the area. You can find a picture of this group on the Ladoga LaBlanche Orchards at www.facebook.com Like them on facebook and keep up on what apples are ready to pick as they become available or email them at littleredschoolhouseorchards@gmail.com See attractions, Taylor County.

The Pony Express Riders of Iowa Celebrate 50 years!

“Out of the summer haze burst a horse and rider, swiftly approaching a lonely sod building of the prairie.  Arriving in a cloud of dust, the rider leaps from his horse and heads for the water barrel to quench his thirst.

Meanwhile, a leather sock filled with mail is whisked off the tired horse and thrown over the saddle of a fresh mount.  Within two minutes the rider remounts, and is gone, galloping toward the far horizon. 

This young man in a hurry was one of some two hundred Pony Express riders who carried the mail in a giant relay between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California.

One hundred and eight year later, on March 30, 1968, a new Pony Express was born, the Pony Express Riders of Iowa…not to carry mail but to carry money…. from county to county… to help the handicapped children and adults of Iowa.

They didn’t get paid to ride.  The smiles of the children were their only paycheck.  But in their hearts they know the truest reward of all; they had made a difference for those who needed them most…their disabled friends and neighbors”**

Now…  Easter Weekend in 2017 the Pony Express Riders of Iowa will have been making this ride for 50 years.

The first ride started by “Stub” Johnson and his wife and two friends n Northwest Iowa.  They raised funds for Easter Seal’s Camp Sunnyside.  The idea caught on and has grown.   The benefit of the Pony Express Riders of Iowa is two-fold:  They raise money to benefit Iowans with disabilities and they bring together horse people from all over the state.

Southwest Iowa joined the fun with a ride from Bedford, Iowa on March 28th & 29th, 1969.  The Taylor County Sheriff’s Posse organizing with saddle clubs from Lenox, Bedford, and Clearfield in Taylor Co.  And the Union County Saddle club.

“Conditioning of all the horses has begun and rider will ride 100-110 miles, changing horses every five miles to assure that none of the horses will be mistreated.”  That was in the Lenox Time Table announcing the southwest leg.  Those five miles quickly turned into ½ mile intervals to give riders a chance to ride more than one time because the response was so great.  It still stands today, each pony express rider hands off the boot to the next rider, gets back in his trailer, travels to the next relay location to ride another ½ mile.  The riders parade each town and collect the money that was donated through various Pony Express Events during the year.

The Southwest ride (now two routes that join together at Stringtown) overnight in Creston, Iowa, with a benefit celebration supper and dance on Friday night.  Saturday morning, riders travel from Creston through Afton and on to Winterset and then on to Des Moines where they are escorted to Camp Sunnyside.

The southwest riders join with 13 other rides from all over the state to celebrate.    Since its inception the Pony Express Riders of Iowa have donated $10,047,004 to Camp Sunnyside over 49 years!

In 1969 riders were accompanied by “ham” operators and CB radios to keep in touch with each other. And law enforcement departments of each county and town traveled through participate to help keep the horses and riders safe as they ride along the route.  To this day, the ride relies on local law enforcement cooperation.

One story from one of the early rides, a horseman recalls a State Trooper, who obviously had never pulled a horse trailer, roared past the line of horse trailers with lights flashing and came to a complete stop at the front of the line.  Several pickup drivers with trailers used some very creative driving tactics to keep from running into each other and not hurting any horses riding in the trailer.  All ended well, no one was hurt but an embarrassed trooper learned a valuable lesson.

Why We Ride:

Money raised by Pony Express goes specifically to Easter Seals Camp Sunnyside.  Camp Sunnyside serves  more than 1,000 Iowans with disabilities every summer.   Camp Sunnyside is widely known as a summer camp for children and adults with disabilities, but beyond that, to mention just a few of the services, it is…

* A place to try new activities and learn  new skills like horseback riding, boating, and camping (Summer Camp, Life Club, Day Camp)

* A place that will loan a wheelchair or other durable medical equipment to a family who cannot afford to buy one.  (Equipment Loan Program)

*  A place that will help farmers who have a disability stay on the farm when they thought there was no hope. (Rural Solutions Program)

*  A place where children with and without disabilities are able to learn together in an integrated child care setting (Bob & Billie Ray Child Development Center)

* A place that offers individuals and their caregivers  a week-end respite (Respite Services)


Many of those who started the Bedford ride in 1969 are no longer riding, but their tradition can be seen each Good Friday as they pass through Taylor County toward Camp Sunnyside.    “We Ride That Crippled Children Can Walk” .  The motto that has stood for 49 years.


**Preface of the 25 year book, The Pony Express Riders of Iowa, inc.**