Welcome to the Iowa US Route 6 web
(National U.S. Route 6 Tourist Association®
- Established in 2001)
Whether you would like to learn more about America's longest and
highest highway, or become a part of our team of volunteers
you've come to the right place!
The U.S. Route 6 Tourist Association is a
National Not-for-profit IRS 501 (c) (3) Public Charity dedicated
to the cultural preservation and economic development of inner
cities, small towns, and rural communities located along all
3,652 miles of the Grand Old Highway – Route 6.
Not-for-profit IRS 501 (c) (3) "Public Charity"
Yes, we are on file with the Iowa Secretary of State as an approved "Public Charity".
Federal ID No. 91-2136205
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on the image above for the full flyer (PDF format)
special time of year with family and friends.
"Don’t Tell George"
The people who whiz across Iowa on Interstate 80 are in a
rut. Perhaps they don’t know it - or perhaps they do, but
are unaware that there is not only a way out, but untold
treasures just a couple of miles to either side, where US
Highway 6 – America’s longest highway dances back and forth,
following the curves of the land, and paying respect to
property lines laid centuries ago, by some forgotten
pioneers and farmers of days gone by.
This is where you find the hidden treasures and the gems
that are slowly fading from our collective memory banks.
One such gem is the world’s oldest ice cream soda fountain.
The Wilton Candy Kitchen has been in continuous operation
since 1856. Built in that year for one R.A. McIntyre, this
quaint little wood-framed building, which leans slightly
over to one side like a cartoon has been in two generations
of the Nopoulos family since 1910.
That’s when Gus Nopoulos bought the business and ran it
until he turned it over to his son George, now 94, who runs
it with his wife, Thelma. Perhaps George is the world’s
oldest soda jerk! Visiting the candy kitchen is a treat,
with George sharing his wry sense of humor, singing and
whistling as he scoops your ice cream. You won’t find this
in some chain restaurant out on the interstate.
People who’ve made the pilgrimage to this Iowa landmark
include legendary actor Gregory Peck, Brooke Shields, Iowa
governor Terry Branstad, and yours truly, who first bumped
into this treasure in 2007. But this story isn’t about that
This story begins the following year, when my wife and
stepsons set out for a trip across Iowa on Highway 6 in our
1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee. We were going to take the boys to
see their very first drive-in movie the Valle Drive-in in
Newton Iowa, and we stopped by that day to visit George and
Thelma and to get some ice cream.
About the time we were getting ready to leave, the air raid
sirens went off, announcing a tornado watch. Thelma, took
charge, herding the entire shop full of customers over to
the basement of the nearby community center until the storm
Afterward, when we returned to the Candy Kitchen, Thelma
refused to take payment for our ice cream, saying instead,
“Don’t tell George”. After thanking her, and saying goodbye,
we started west, only to have the check engine light come
on, and the temperature gauge head ominously to the right
after just a few miles. A check under the hood confirmed
that our water pump pulley had fallen off of the water pump.
We limped the Jeep back to the Candy Kitchen, and asked
Thelma if she knew anyone with any tools. Once again, she
sprang into action, finding one customer to give me a ride
to the auto parts store in Muscatine, and then she took me
on a trip around Wilton, throughout her neighborhood, until
she found someone with some tools to loan me.
The Candy Kitchen was getting past closing time by then, but
no matter, not only did they stay open late, but she made my
wife and stepsons grilled sandwiches and root beer floats
while I went about replacing the water pump.
By the time I had finished, it was nearly 9PM, and when I
came in, Thelma sent me off to the restroom to wash my
hands. When I came back, I asked how much we owed for the
food, and once again, she refused to take any money from me.
Instead, she pressed sixty dollars into my hand, and said:
“Don’t tell George”. I protested, saying I had a good job,
and that I didn’t need it, but she refused to take the money
This is the kind of pioneering spirit Thelma is. When the
old train depot in Wilton needed restoration, Thelma donated
thousands of dollars to the effort. She even found an old
railroad semaphore signal, and negotiated the purchase and
A few years later, when my fledgling organization was
raising money to put “Historic Route 6” signage along the
stretch of former US that went through Wilton, Thelma was
one of the first on board. She sat in on the city council
meetings, and joined me in making the case for the historic
With Thelma’s help, Wilton was on board. As were the towns
of Durant and Walcott. We were finally putting up the very
first set of Historic Route 6 signs in Iowa. Later, when we
set up a sign presentation at the community center with the
mayors of the three towns along that stretch of road,
Thelma learned that we needed to cater this historic event,
and she pressed two hundred dollars into my hand. I think
you know by now what she said. In any case, don’t tell
George Nopoulos passed away June 14th, 2015, and Thelma
joined him April 29th, 2020, but the world’s oldest Ice
Cream parlor is still in operation, run today by Lynn
Ochiltree. Thank you Lynn for keeping the history alive.
Rest in Peace Thelma Nopoulos. All of our love and prayers
go out to you and your family
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The “class photo” of the “All The Way”
group of the
2018 River to River Retro Road Trip Cruise (in Co.
Bluffs IA on SEP 15th)
Welcome to Brooklyn, Iowa
The Community of Flags
Thanks to Rusty Clayton, President of the Brooklyn True
Value Hardware Store, he was able to have this mural painted
on the side of his building with community financial
support. The painting was done in 2015 by local artist Scott
Hawkins. Historic Highway U.S. Route 6 passes right thru
downtown Brooklyn. Travelers from around the country come to
have their pictures taken beside the mural.
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Brooklyn, Iowa's main flag display. A proud tribute to the
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IN THE NEWS!!
In The News
Victor Joins the Effort
Historic U.S. Route 6 to the Nation
(Warrior Tribune - Victor, Iowa)
Click thumbnails to view full size
PDF files of the image.
Historical Iowa Transportation Maps
1919 - 2010
Official State of Iowa Transportation Maps
George and Thelma Nopoulos Owners of the Wilton
Candy Kitchen in
Wilton, Iowa with Kimberly K. Sloan, web site
Website Design ) , and Student Intern with our
Association. Kimberly is currently a full-time student
majoring in Journalism at Muscatine Community College and
lives in Wilton, Iowa.
a member of our Association.
Kimberly will be applying her journalism and web
site design talents to aid us in the preservation of small
towns and their locally owned businesses. We are excited to
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS
(Cities, Counties, Public Agencies, Chambers and Convention & Visitors Bureaus)
Children's Therapy Center of the Quad
To provide therapy services to children with developmental
disabilities and developmental delays in order to help them
achieve their highest level of independence.
MISSION: The QCCVB is the official
tourism destination marketing and management organization
for the Quad Cities region. The organization serves the
tourism interests of Scott County in Iowa and Rock Island,
Mercer, Warren and Henderson Counties in Illinois, joined by
the Mississippi River.
The QCCVB increases visitor expenditures and overnight stay
through strategic sales, marketing , and services to our
customers, members and communities. We promote and package
our destination to attract and meet the needs of meetings
and conventions, group tours, sporting events and
competitions, special interest group and the leisure
to the Durant Chamber of Commerce
Liberty Chamber of Commerce
Welcome to the City of Durant, Iowa
City of Walcott, Iowa
The U.S. Route 6
Tourist Association is a Not-for-profit IRS 501 (c) (3)
"Public Charity" Corporation
dedicated to the economic development and cultural preservation of
inner cities, small towns and rural communities located along all
3,652 miles of the Grand Old Highway.
We are currently all non-paid volunteers, either retired or keeping
our day jobs. Some of our student interns have worked their way up
to the position of Executive Director. The Association covers all
expenses related directly to Association activities.