Finding American Pickers


Our “early fall” trip abroad arrived late this year, we just recently came home. Lisa and I, Jeanette Walseth and Teresa Hibbert had decided on something different this year; we would journey to Antique Archeology in Leclaire, Iowa. Antique Archeology is home to the History Channel series, “American Pickers” and prides itself on finding rusty gold in the barns and sheds across America.


I was always underestimate the commitment needed to drive to these far-off locations. Leclaire, Iowa is a town of about 3800 people and sits about 170 miles west of Chicago, Illinois. Our journey lead us through some beautiful farm land in Iowa and also to some places we did not belong. Davenport, Iowa is close to Leclaire and so we thought we’d “explore” it’s downtown-an area where we find most antique stores. Downtown Davenport does not feature many antique stores and does not have that bright, glistening, performance-ready look that would land it on the web page of the Davenport Chamber of Commerce. We found one antique store, the owner was very nice but my suggestion that someone other than myself drive was impetus enough to convince our group that we should leave.


An evening drive through St Paul during Halloween is just the thing to get the blood pumping. I would recommend it to-no one, absolutely no one. We got lost passing through the cities on our return trip. At one low point I considered telling Lisa (much like “Hawkeye” in “Last of the Mohicans”) that she should “stay alive no matters what occurs-I will find you” then abandon the vehicle and run for cover. Instead we watched the vehicle compass and kept the it headed north or west and finally found an entrance to I-35 east. Never has a road sign so relieved my anxiety, I would have gladly gone back to Leclaire and started again to avoid this situation.


Okay so we arrived at “Antique Archeology” on the Sunday before Halloween. The building is much smaller than I’d imagined and appears to be an old gasoline station. Neither Mike Wolfe or Frank Fritz (main characters of American Pickers) were at the store that day. We did overhear the attendant call Mike Wolfe about a price on an old Pepsi sign but that was the extent of our contact. The prices were at the store were not as bad as you might think, although we purchased very little. We did recognize a few items purchased on the show that were for sale at the store; a Harley Davidson motorcycle, an Indian cycle and Laurel and Hardy masks. Danielle Colby Cushman was not at the store that day either, I suppose everyone needs a day off. Antique Archeology also has a store in Nashville, Tennessee.


It was a good trip, I ate too much and didn’t drink quite enough beer but it was still a good time. I got my fill of continental breakfasts and now know a little more about the fear Hansel and Gretel must have felt when lost in the woods. It was less about the trip and more about the friendship I share with the occupants of the vehicle as we chased across Iowa, finding American Pickers.

Antique Archeology and Jeanette
Jeanette Walseth standing in front of old car which serves as decoration at Antique Archeology.


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