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[graphic header] The Amana Colonies: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary of a unique historic communal society in eastern Iowa

[graphic] Schulwald
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A surviving schulwald east of Upper South Amana
Photograph by Shannon Bell

Local timber and trees were very important to the Amana Colonies. The Amana Society used local timber in building and in crafts, and sold it to neighboring settlers. The colonists understood the timber economy and cut elm, hickory, hackbury, and oak for lumber. However, following the testimony of Werkzeug (a prophet who received messages from God) Barbara Heinemann Landmann against the sinful worldliness of "pleasures of the eye," the Amana Society leadership forbade the planting of shade and ornamental trees. Heinemann admonished her fellow Inspirationists to "see to it that all trees not bearing fruit be removed from the house, for they belong to the pleasures of the eye." In response, apple, cherry, plum, and peach trees were commonly found surrounding kitchen houses and in orchards at the village fringe.

[Historic Photo]
Children walking in a schulwald, c.1920
Photograph courtesy of the Amana Heritage Society

Despite Landmann's admonition to grow only fruit trees in the villages, the Inspirationists planted pine groves throughout the Amana Colonies. There is a long tradition of Amana Colony residents planting trees in groves. Groves of Austrian pines (Pinus nigra) were planted around the perimeter and along the approach to each cemetery to shield and protect these tranquil areas. Throughout the Amana Colony landscape, Tannenwälder (pine groves) and schulwälder (pine groves planted and tended to by schoolchildren) dot the landscape. Amana Colony school children planted the first of these groves near Price Creek, just to the north of Amana, in the 1860s. The tall, erect pines stood for many years and the Schulwald was a favorite place for Sunday walks and outings. The Amana Society harvested that grove of trees in the 1940s, at the request of the Federal government, to contribute to the war effort during World War II. This act also demonstrated the American patriotism of the Amana Society for those suspicious of their German roots and ties.

Although heavily damaged in a windstorm in June of 1998, one of the smaller schulwalds, planted just east of Upper South Amana, remains today as an example of this distinct feature of the Amana landscape.

The Upper South Amana Schulwald is located east of 220th Trail. It can be viewed from the street but is located on private property, and public access is not available.


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