Questions remain regarding community's plaque cache

By: Nancy Hagman, Colfax Record Correspondent
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For more than a year, we have been reporting the story behind the numerous plaques found around Colfax. The search began, first, to determine the total number and then, what tales they could represent. Sixty plaques have been identified. All but nine are metal; of those, six are stone and two of wood. The column title and scope were stretched at times as interesting stories were discovered. Along the journey, several mysteries were uncovered and a few were solved. The first “Hunting” article, on Jan. 27, 2011, was about the Stevens Trail, which is listed on the national registry for its historic value. Yet, there is no commemorative marker. Later, it was discovered that there is a stone marker at the Iowa Hill end of the trail. Another sad omission is the lack of a plaque for Dr. Robert A. Peers. He made Colfax internationally famous for his successful treatment of the once-widespread tuberculosis malady. A marker is suspected to be missing from a lamppost on Main Street. Then there’s the mystery solved by looking in a closet. It marks the donation of the Pullman railroad car to the city and now adorns a prominent shelf of the Rainbow Music operation inside the car. Another enigma of metal, not missing, but in need of a proper place to adorn, is the bronze “Colfax Youth Center” plaque. It was on the wall of the center at the top of Rising Sun Road. The center provided town youth a place to hang out and hold dances and other functions until the city converted the building and space to the maintenance corporation yard. The plaque is safely housed in the Colfax Heritage Museum for now. Two distinct questions remain. First is the discovery of an article and picture of a group dedicating a plaque, officially naming the downtown Amtrak stop after Colfax City Councilman Ben Hartske. Year and details remain a challenge. What is known is that Hartske served the city from 1974 to 1978 and championed the retention of Colfax as a passenger train stop. Discovered just last week by the literal uncovering of a marked post in Library Park – not a lamppost, but a good place to tie up your dog – is the final marker. In the same historic style as the Main Street lampposts, its inscribed metal has the name R.J. LaVoie (or LaVole). Can anyone help? What also remains to be determined is whether the presence of 60 plaques in this small hamlet is any sort of record. Perhaps an email to Guinness World Records is called for.