Ox Yoke Inn Neon Sign to Come Down

Posted by MW on September 12th, 2008 1:32 pm

A neon sign that’s been a landmark in eastern Iowa since 1950 will become history next week because of an Amana Colonies ordinance.

The steel pole holding the “Ox Yoke Inn Amana Food Family Style” sign will be cut down and the 11 1/2-foot wide by 9-foot tall sign will be lifted by crane onto a trailer. It will be replaced by a 6-foot wide by 3-foot tall white wooden sign with black letters and the restaurant’s logo.

Ox Yoke Restaurants president Bill Leichsenring Jr. said the sign was erected by his parents.

“It has always been there,” said Leichsenring, 52. “It’s all I remember.”

The Leichsenring family opened the restaurant in 1940 at a nearby site where the Ronneburg Restaurant now operates. It moved to its current site in 1950 in a former communal kitchen built in 1856, and the neon sign went up a short time later.

A friend suggested the Ox Yoke Inn name in honor of settlers who used oxen to clear the surrounding land.

The sign must be removed because of an Amana Colonies ordinance adopted in 1996 that forbids neon signs.

Leichsenring said his sign was given a variance for some years, but “now it’s time to comply with the powers that be.”

Amana Colonies officials have said that neon signs contrast with the area’s designation as a national historic landmark.

Leichsenring said he’s asked the Amana Society for storage space for the sign until he decides what to do with it.

To find out more, go to: www.gazetteonline.com