Visitors to the Auburn 125h-anniversary celebration this weekend can view a display of graduation photos from the former Auburn High School. The display —in the Auburn Public Library — features many of the classes from 1909 to 1959, along with a directory identifying students. Pictured is librarian Donetta Stewart.
Visitors to the Auburn 125h-anniversary celebration this weekend can view a display of graduation photos from the former Auburn High School. The display —in the Auburn Public Library — features many of the classes from 1909 to 1959, along with a directory identifying students. Pictured is librarian Donetta Stewart.
Thursday, August 2, 2012

AUBURN — Attractions such as a world-renowned chainsaw carver, a celebrity softball game, fireworks show and dance to the band 100 Proof highlight this weekend’s Auburn Quasquicentennial.

For the past 2½ years a committee has been planning celebration of the founding of the Sac County town of 322 residents 125 years ago.

“We tried to make this an event that’s for everybody and is affordable,” says Nancy Janssen, who’s served as city clerk-treasurer 9½ years. “Mom and dad, grandma and grandpa can all come, and there will be something for them to do.”

“We have a lot of good people who are working hard” preparing the celebration, Janssen says.

Auburn was named by the Western Town Lot Co. According to the town history, as railroad companies moved west across the country they named towns established along the way after cities known to them in the eastern U.S. Auburn, Iowa, is named after Auburn, N.Y. Today, Auburn, N.Y., is a city of more than 27,000 located approximately 35 miles west of Syracuse and 120 miles east of Buffalo in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region of New York. Auburn is the county seat of Cayuga Count and its largest community.

Auburn, Iowa, was incorporated on Jan. 10, 1887, after it was platted and dedicated the previous year.

According to the Auburn centennial book, “It was in September 1886, that prosperity came to Auburn with the completion of the railroad between Lake City and Wall Lake. This 15.3-mile line was part of the Toledo and North Western Railroad, a subsidiary of the Chicago and North Western. …

“With the railroad came activity in Auburn. Many buildings were soon erected, and the present Main Street came into existence.

“The depot was first located on the south end of town on the present site of Highway 71 and later was moved to just west of this site.”

By 1898 the town had grown to 300 people, as the C&NW provided both daily freight and passenger service.

The Auburn Recorder newspaper said, “It was easy to go to Sac City to pay taxes or transact other business. Shopping tours or visiting trips were easily made to Wall Lake or Lake City and considered quite an adventure. Best of all and perhaps most remembered by many were the trips when the whole family and most of your friends, relatives and neighbors went by train to some nearby celebration or fair held in some local towns.”

The importance of rail transportation declined over the years, and the line between Farnhamville and Carnarvon was abandoned in 1972.

The centennial book says, “Although there is very little if any evidence today to indicate a railroad even existed in Auburn, it was one of the vital elements contributing to the conception, construction and growth of the community.”

This weekend’s quasquicentennial will provide an opportunity for family and friends to get together and explore some of the community’s history as well as view recent revitalization projects.

The Historical Museum will be open all day Saturday. The museum is located next to the library in the space that formerly housed the fire department.

“They’ve done a really wonderful job of setting up artifacts,” Janssen says. “There are lots of pictures for people to look at.”

On display will be a phone switchboard, military gear, baseball and softball memorabilia, and a kitchen set-up.

In the library, there are pictures of many of the Auburn High School graduation classes from 1909 to ’59, along with a directory of students’ identifications.

 Interestingly, Janssen says, she occasionally receives visitors who recall that the city hall building formerly housed classrooms and her current office was a kindergarten room.

Most recently, Auburn’s main thoroughfare, Highway 71, underwent extensive improvement, including five blocks of new rain gardens; new sidewalks, streetlights and right-of-way parking areas; and planting beds at corners. That project was completed in 2010.

In addition, Reiman Park was dedicated on the east side of Highway 71 in the center of town. The park features walkways, benches, sign feature and a gazebo that’s original to the 1887 centennial celebration.

Much of the cost of the park project was covered by donation from the Reiman Foundation. Roy Reiman grew up on a farm near Auburn and graduated from Auburn High School in 1952.

He graduated in agricultural journalism from Iowa State University in 1956 and went on to found Reiman Publications in Greendale, Wis., the country’s largest private-subscription-based publishing company. Reiman Publications produces country-oriented magazines, books and other products.

The park project also received local donations and city funds, which enabled the city to put up a new façade and rebuild the sidewalk approach at city hall.

Janssen says of Reiman Park, “We have people who stop and use our park, so that’s cool.”

Most of the celebration activities will be in the ballpark area on the northwest side of town.

Janssen says one of the main attractions will be the opportunity to watch world-renowned chainsaw carver Jamie Doeren at work. Doeren’s website says he began experimenting with chainsaw carving in 1989 and he became a self-taught master of chainsaw sculpture. He’s written books on chainsaw carving  and has won national and world championships in carving competitions. He offers chainsaw-carving classes at his studio in Abrams, Wis., and he’s taught classes in Germany.

He’s studied under masters worldwide and has spent substantial time in Europe doing commissioned jobs.

Items that Doeren creates during the day will be auctioned beginning at 8 p.m., before the band performance.

“He’s one of the best in the world, and we have an opportunity to have him here,” Janssen says of Doeren.

Activities this weekend include:


9 p.m.-1 a.m. — Celebration kickoff street dance at Molly’s Bar and Grill.


9 a.m.-5 p.m. — Auburn Historical Museum and Library open house.

9 a.m. — Softball tournament begins.

Preceding the championship game there will be a Brend Oilers-Auburn Merchants celebrity game. Auburn was known for years for its baseball and slow-pitch softball teams.

10 a.m. — Kids’ parade featuring the theme “Anything Goes.” Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. Line up at Second and Walnut.

11 a.m.-4 p.m. — Games and inflatables.

1-5 p.m. — Woodcarving featuring world-renowned Jamie Doeren.

2-4 p.m. — Auburn School tours.

4 p.m. — Auburn School reunion at shelter house.

Beer garden will open at noon.

8 p.m.-midnight — Band 100 Proof will perform.



11 a.m. — Community worship service, led by the Rev. Don Gibson, supply pastor for Auburn and Wheatland Presbyterian churches, and the Rev. Lynn Bruch, pastor at St. Mary Catholic Church.

Noon — Mud volleyball tournament begins.

Noon-3 p.m. — Show and Shine Car Show. Registration will be from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Noon — Beer garden opens.

Those attending activities during the weekend are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.

A quasquicentennial recipes book will be available for $20. The book expands on the centennial recipes book, and features recipes contributed by community residents along with stories passed along through the generations.

Proceeds from book sales will go toward developing the Historical Society museum in the former fire department space north of the library. The area needs new lighting as well as floor and ceiling work. Collection in the museum is growing, and city clerk-treasurer Nancy Janssen calls it a work-in-progress.