If you look at the trajectory of the sun and moon across the United States during last Monday’s total eclipse, you will find that Hamburg, Iowa, is one of a quartet of towns in the nation from which you could see not only the eclipse, but also three different states at the same time.
The fact that this corner of Iowa about the size of two tennis courts would only experience the totality of the solar eclipse for half a minute did not seem to bother any of the 100 or more visitors who came from near and far to revel in one of nature’s most beautiful and intriguing phenomena.
Nor did the presence of clouds that scuttled by, obscuring the sun at times only to reveal it again moments later as it steadily shrank into hiding behind the moon.
Superintendent and Principal of Hamburg schools Dr. Mike Wells brought a couple buses of students from Marnie Simons Elementary down to the Lower Hamburg Bend on the border between Iowa and Missouri.
Elementary Spanish teacher Spencer Baldwin was busy grilling hot dogs for the crowd, which included visitors from as far away as Florida, California, and Canada.
One family drove nine hours from Mountain Iron in northern Minnesota, to see the eclipse. John Villebrun, a special ed teacher, brought son Ian and daughter Hannah to see what may well be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Reporters and photographers from Council Bluffs and even Des Moines showed up. Some visitors brought telescopes and fancy cameras, though most folks made do with their cell phones.
Among the Hamburg representatives were two fans of unusual natural phenomena, Barb Lamb and Elaine Howard, who took hometown pride in their DIY headgear, designed to prevent any potential ill effects from the celestial disturbance.
As totality approached, when the moon completely obscures the sun but for its corona, the light grew dimmer and the landscape an eerie green-brown.
The bonfire that campers on the river island were burning glowed brighter.
Until the last moments, it was not entirely certain whether the clouds would rob onlookers of the thirty seconds of total eclipse. But they parted just in time for the climactic moment.
Suddenly there was the “diamond ring,” then the intensity of the sun’s corona when the moon is exactly lined up with the sun. The corona even seemed to be amplified by a thin cloud  zipping past, and the crowd erupted into two minutes of sustained whooping and hollering as totality hit.
Unexpectedly, a second diamond ring appeared for a moment as the moon moved past the sun. Daylight burst forth, as all knew it would, and it was over.
 Mike Wells, one of the last to leave, paused briefly on the dirt track leading back to town and rolled down his window to offer a succinct and accurate summary: “Very cool. Fantastic!”