Found at http://www.thebinocularbooth.com/ Not an endorsement, just like the picture
A couple of other observations that the wife and I have come across during our exploring of the properties offered in the county: One half of the properties that we've looked at so far are on the market because of a divorce. It seems that one spouse received the property in the settlement and then put it on the market within a few months. I have no reason to ask why and frankly it's not my business.
One fourth have been on the market because of a death and they're selling the land to settle the estate. The conclusion I can come up with is that three quarters of the properties we looked at were on the market because of an unfortunate event. I have no intention of hanging out at the courthouse or bribing the clerk to check the docket, but this is only an observation. Although a sad one.
This next segment is entitled:
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Pixels
I found the Iowa Geographic Map Server of the state that provides infrared, color hillshade maps and grayscale hillshade at one meter scale. Other maps are available as well.
For a historical perspective one can look up aerial photos from the 1930s. One piece of land we are currently looking closer at had been farmed right up to the creek in the 30's. Now the parcel is about 40% hardwoods and multiflora rose. (I curse the day they thought up that erosion solution.)
How about a little further back in time with the General Land Office Survey Map of Iowa, conducted between 1836 and 1859.
There is a lot to look for here as I've looked up my grandfathers' farms and our old homestead where I grew up just because I can.
And Bing Maps with their "Bird's Eye" can zoom in for very close looks if available.
Some of the counties in Iowa have a very good GIS mapping that clearly indicates the parcel lines and allows measurements for distance and area.
Here's an interesting view of flooding along the Iowa River probably done in 2008. The deedholder of this parcel is the United States of America and its Assigns. I found this to be a very good tool to map out a parcel and find the neighbors.
Not every county uses this same tool but I've found this one to be very easy to work with. Neighboring counties of Tama and Linn use it but our neighbor to the north, Benton, uses a tool that doesn't utilize aerial photos. Shame.
I encourage anyone to use these tools for themselves. If you're an Iowan (or former Iowan) find your own property or snoop on your neighbors. I haven't found any sunbathers yet but you never know.