MUSCATINE, Iowa–Whenever Freda Sojka would visit her sister in rural Muscatine County, she saw the old church camp next to her house and knew that it had a lot of potential. Though the property came up for sale several times over the years, it never proved quite the right time for Sojka to buy it. However, more recently, Sojka started forming a business plan for it, and when it went up for sale again, she purchased it and started making the Cedar River Ranch a reality. “I started forming a model for women’s transitional housing many years ago, with an idea of an entrepreneurial spin where businesses we created would give the women a chance to learn trades while recovering, plus allow them to be self supporting.”
Courtney Brown, an employee at Cedar River Ranch elaborated: “Freda’s model came to form Cedar River Haven, a non-profit organization which will establish and operate the women’s transitional housing center on premise. Construction for this building has just begun. The for profit, Cedar River Ranch, will be able to provide work and learning opportunities for women in several different areas across the property, some right away and some farther down the line – housekeeping, retail, customer service, and food service to name a few.”
This past summer, guests already began enjoying some of the many amenities Cedar River Ranch has to offer. Located in the southwest corner of Muscatine County at 2798 Casey Avenue in Letts, Cedar River Ranch sits right on the banks of the Cedar River, nestled on 53 beautifully forested acres of land. Currently, guests can stay in one of five loft cabins (which sleep eight) or four smaller cabins (which sleep six). Complete with kitchenettes, modern plumbing, heating and air conditioning, television, and charcoal grills, these cabins provide every comfort while providing easy access to numerous hiking trails. A beautiful chalet with space for four provides a more private option as well.
When renovations wrap up, five sleeping cabins that can hold 12 people each and a bathhouse will allow larger groups to stay at the ranch. An outdoor pool, kiddie train, and spacious lodge (which will include handicapped accessible accommodations) will provide additional spaces for groups to rent and enjoy for weddings, family reunions, corporate retreats, and any other events people can think up. Cedar River Ranch welcomes you to book your stay on their website, by calling 319-728-3333, or by visiting VERBO.
As Cedar River Ranch begins the mission of helping women and giving guests the best experience possible, they decided to join the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce to help more locals learn about them. “The Chamber plays a huge role in connecting businesses with their community and providing opportunities to network,” said Brown. “We are somewhat tucked away out of the scene, and of course, we’re really working to build our presence in the community and get our message out there – who we are, what we can offer to the community, and why we are here.”