There’s that old quip from Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” Surely that must have in part been the logic behind the tiny town of Walcott, IA and its building of what many call “The World’s Largest Truck-Stop” along Interstate Highway 80. During the truck stop’s decades of operation, this otherwise unremarkable farming town in the American Heartland has become something of a pilgrimage place for dedicated overland truckers. Recently, the Iowa 80 Truckstop celebrated 33 years of being in business – and the locals of eastern Iowa showed up in droves to share in the excitement. As can be seen in this photo-essay by Kari Collins, the “33rd Annual Truckers’ Jamboree,” a festival celebrating the American industry that keeps other American industries up and running, there’s something about the Iowa 80 Truckstop that resonates deeply for an American.
What started out humbly as a rest-stop along Interstate 80 has developed into a travel center that supports all the services a trucker most needs. Beyond the usual gas/food/lodging, a dentist has set up shop there. There’s a movie theater which shows mainstream blockbuster movies. There’s a showering facility for those who aren’t planning on spending the night in Walcott, but nevertheless want a breather from the open road. And – of course – there’s the iconic Truckers’ Jamboree itself, where all things trucker are held up to the light and celebrated. In a country that doesn’t fully understand or appreciate the long, thankless hours it takes to be a trucker, or to run a successful trucking company, it’s nice to see some unabashed “big rig spirit.”