Hardin County Highpoint Trip Report

20+ new areas near Radcliffe (1220+ ft)

Date: December 26, 2005
Author: Bob Schwab

I visited these sites in a cold, blowing fog (visibility was about 500-1000 feet) which made most hand-leveling impossible. Occasionally, the fog lifted a bit but, for the most part, no elevation comparisons were possible. Sites were confirmed with GPS entries which I had previously determined (CONUS NAD 27 datum). In one case in particular, this process was critical because the alleged contour is in reality a hole! By the way, I hope this report allows me to "redeem" my original claim of completing Iowa in 2004.

2 areas in section 30: To visit the newly-discovered areas near Radcliffe, leave I-35 at exit 133 and drive east 5.3 miles on Route 175 to the county line and Zublin Avenue. Turn left and drive north on Zublin a little more than 0.5 mile to some grain bins to the east, just north of a purplish-colored house. The man at the house informed me that the area I was interested in was owned by a Mr. Hakes, who lives in the yellow and brown farmhouse 0.5 mile northeast of the two areas (12453 260th Street). Once permission is obtained, drive up the access road to the easternmost grain bin and park. Then hike north and northeast to the two obvious contours out in the field (areas 1 & 2). The snow was about one foot deep, with an icy crust that made the "postholing" more bothersome than I expected.

9 areas in section 31: Return to the intersection of Zublin Avenue and Route 175. Drive east on Route 175 for maybe 0.25 mile to a field access on the south side of the road next to a north-south fence line and park. Walk south along the fence line (corn stubble to the east, plowed field to the west, snowdrifts about 1.5 feet deep) a short distance to the obvious high spot along the fence and just east into the cornfield (area 3). From here, walk due west several hundred feet to a tiny spot in the plowed field (area 4).

For the next two areas, return to the intersection of Zublin and Route 175 and drive south on Zublin about 0.25 mile to a slight crest in the road and park here. This is area 6, and it extends out into the bean field about 0.1 mile. Area 5 is another low rise out in the field about 400-500 feet to the northeast.

Continue south on Zublin Avenue roughly another 0.25 mile to the half-section line, which is marked by an east-west fence. Park here near a telephone pole and hike east along the south side of the fence for 0.5 mile to the center of section 31. The highest ground is just south and southeast of a cluster of trees. There are about three areas along the fence and out in the field to the southeast that should be visited. This area (7) feels and seems quite high and is one of the three highest areas I encountered on this trip.

Return to your car and continue south on Zublin another 0.3 mile to two grain bins on the east side of the road (#22793). Park here and wander east on a fairly flat area (8) that actually extends across the road from the east. Continue directly east into the cornfield about 600 feet to an obvious banana- shaped contour (area 9) and then north-northeast roughly another 600+ feet to a smaller area (10).

Return to your car and drive 0.2 mile farther south, to the intersection with 340th Street. Park here. This is the spot elevation 1222 shown on the topo map. It is obvious that the highest ground within this contour is about 0.1 mile north and just east of the road in a cornfield. This spot within this contour (area 11) is at least 4 feet higher than the intersection. Note that the ground within this same contour to the west of the road (not in Hardin County) seems to slope downward rather remarkably (could field erosion have lowered the field this much?). The highest ground is east of the road, within the sliver of the contour that is inside Hardin County.

4 areas in Section 6: Continue south from the intersection of 340th Street and Zublin Avenue for about 0.1 mile to the farm of James Bergesen (#28124). I spoke briefly with him and left him a map of the contours I was investigating. His house and buildings sit on area 12. I felt that one of the highest spots within this contour was northwest of his house, not far from the road and trees he has planted. There are two other smaller areas about 0.25 mile southeast of his house out in the fields. I continued down the road about 0.2 mile and then hiked east, crossing a fence or two, to visit these modest areas out in a cornfield (areas 13 and 14).

Drive south on Zublin to the intersection with 290th Street and turn left. Drive east about 0.25 mile to an old farmhouse (#12213) on your left (north). The house has "no trespassing" signs nailed to the door but, when I knocked, the man who lives there was friendly and I gave him a topo map. His house sits on area 15. I think the highest spot within this contour is just northeast of the house. On the topo map, there is a suspicious contour drawn just north of this area out in the field, but it is clearly a depression, not a rise.

4 areas in section 32: Drive east on 290th Street 0.75 mile to C Avenue. Turn left and drive north on C Avenue for 1 mile to 280th Street. Turn right and drive east on 280th for 1 mile to county S-27 (paved). You could park here along 280th to snag the two areas in the southeast corner of section 32 but I recommend you turn left and drive north to the microwave tower and park there. Hike south on the road a few hundred feet to the old access to a farm (now gone). The fence surrounding the field has fallen down in several places along this part of the road. Hike due east 0.4 mile to a large contour out in the beanfield (area 16). About halfway out into the field, you will cross over the tiny area on the topo map that Iíve designated as area 17. You may have to use your imagination to "see" this one. On the way back from area 16, circle to the southeast to the two obvious high spots near the highway (areas 18 and 19). As I said, these areas could also be easily be visited from 280th Street but I couldnít find anyone at home at the house (#13696) on 280th Street, so I chose not to park near their property.

2 areas in section 33: From the intersection of S-27 and 280th Street, drive east on 280th for about 0.6 mile and watch for a benchmark (BM Drake) which has posts and markers on both sides of the road. Park at the BM. Looking west, note the north-south fence at the half-section line and the obvious rise along it, just a 100 or so feet north of the road. This is area 20 and I was surprised by how obvious this rise turned out to be. Hike directly north from BM1 (on the north side of the road) for about 500 or so feet. This is supposed to be area 21 but note that you walked downhill from the road and the fence to the east (area 20) looks higher than ever. I believe this final area (21?) is an incorrectly drawn depression, not a rise! I tramped all around this spot with my GPS so I know Iíve covered the ground but I didnít see anything that made me feel this last area is a 1220+ contour.

In summary, I believe there are only 20 (not 21) 1220+ contours near Radcliffe. I think field erosion has lowered some of the 20 areas to the point that they may not really exist anymore. I was somewhat impressed with the "feeling" of height, particularly at areas 7, 11, 16, and to a lesser extent at areas 1, 2, and 12. In my opinion, these are the clusters most worthy of consideration as potential county highpoints. Given that weather conditions prevented me from doing hand level checks, I encourage future visitors to similarly visit all 21 alleged sites and decide for themselves.