Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cook Ranch Corn Trophy Returns to Odebolt

Courtesy of the April 23rd edition of the Ida County Courier -

The A. E. Cook Corn Trophy, from Brookmont Farm, Odebolt’s Cook Ranch, will be available for public viewing in the lobby at First State Bank in Odebolt from June 16–July 25. Special presentations on the trophy and about Brookmont/Cook Ranch history will be held on Saturday, June 21, at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church during Odebolt Creek Days’ festivities . Group Photos for Cook Ranch landowners with the Corn Trophy will be taken at 2:30 p.m. at First State Bank on the same day.  (Photo submitted)

Cook Ranch artifact returns to Odebolt
The Odebolt Museum is excited to share the news that a significant and virtually unknown artifact, the A. E. Cook Corn Trophy, from Brookmont Farm, Odebolt’s Cook Ranch, was recently discovered in the museum collection at Iowa State University in Ames.

In 1903, Albert E. Cook, the second-generation owner of Brookmont Farm, commissioned a $1,500 (nearly $40,000 today) 36-inch high bronze trophy to hold the winning ears of corn from the annual corn judging contests that Iowa State participated in during that era.

The trophy was presented to the college in January 1904, but was only used for four years, when inter-college corn judging contests fell out of popularity. The trophy was then lost for the next eight decades.

During a renovation to Curtiss Hall in the late 1980s, construction workers discovered the trophy hidden in an empty space behind a wall. It has since been restored and is now featured prominently in the Dean’s Gallery of Art. In 2012, the trophy was featured in the University Museum’s newsletter and discovered by someone who knew its significance to the Odebolt community.

The trophy was created as a tribute from A. E. Cook to his then recently deceased father, Charles W. Cook, the man who, in 1873, purchased and developed the 12 square miles (7,860 acres) that made up Brookmont Farm, north of Odebolt.

The three glass cylinders showcasing the winning ears are believed to still be the originals from the last contest in 1907. The cylinders are flanked by statues of C. W. Cook and of a Native American dressed in full regalia. On the back pedestal, three eagles support a globe of the earth with the state of Iowa—the corn breeding belt—featured in raised relief.

A plaque on the trophy says: “The Cook Trophy Presented to Iowa State Agricultural College by A. E. Cook, Odebolt, Iowa, for Excellence in Corn Judging To Be Awarded in State or National Contests as the College May Direct— the Cylinders To Hold the Sweepstake Ears.”

For the past year, a group has been working with Iowa State to arrange for a loan of the trophy to the Odebolt Museum for display this summer in conjunction with the Odebolt Creek Days festival.

First State Bank in Odebolt is funding all transportation and insurance costs for the trophy’s return home after 110 years. This important piece of Odebolt’s rich, farm history will be available to the public in the lobby at First State Bank from June 16–July 25. A special presentation on the trophy and of Brookmont/ Cook Ranch history will be held on Saturday, June 21, during Creek Days’ festivities.

The Odebolt Historical Museum Association is grateful to First State Bank and Iowa State University Museums for their support of this important, historical event. Special thanks also go to Don Etler, Dan Etler and John Currie for all their work in making this happen for the Odebolt community.

Anyone with Brookmont/ Cook Ranch pictures, artifacts or information is encouraged to contact Kathy Larson at

Read about the Cook Ranch at the Odebolt History Pages

Photos of Brookmont Farm

Brookmont Booklet

The Business of Farming - from the May 14, 1910 Saturday Evening Post (.pdf file)

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