Tom Wetteland

Only after retirement in 1987 did former Ames resident, Arthur Tom Wetteland, turn to making scale model replicas and extraordinary scroll-work clocks.  Trained as a watchmaker in Kansas City, he acquired the patience and skill to work on small-scale objects.  After working 20 years as a jeweler in Cedar Rapids and Jewell, Tom again worked in Ames, this time maintaining autoclaves and small equipment at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories.

After visiting the Bily Clock Museum in Spillville, Iowa, Tom became interested in doing intricate scroll work.  His home workshop was equipped with carving knives, a scroll and band saw, two table saws, sanders, and a goodly supply of walnut, birch and oak boards.  Detailed plans for many of the models were ordered from England.  After he mastered the art of making wheels, rims and hubs, the projects became easier.  The buckboard, farm wagon, stagecoach and Conestoga wagon are among his early works.  The buckboard remained his all-time favorite.  His job as deliveryman for Woodland Dairy probably inspired the milk wagon model.  The horse-drawn hearse is an obvious reference to the one used by the Adams Funeral Home.

Tom was born in 1920, one of five children of Sanford and Pearl (Moore) Wetteland.  The family resided at 829 Douglas and later at 819 Lincoln Way.  It is interesting to note that the 19th century house at 9th Street and Douglas Avenue is one of the few extant homes shown in the 1875 Andreas’ illustrated historical atlas of the state of Iowa.  Tom grew up in this house, graduated from Ames High School in 1938, and later served as a motor machinist’s mate with the U.S. Coast Guard in the Philippines and New Guinea during World War II.  Tom died in October 2005 and is buried in Ames Municipal Cemetery.  His wife and two daughters have graciously donated 18 wonderful examples of Tom’s woodworking skills to the Ames Historical Society.  It is appropriate that these models were transferred from his Boone home to Ames for enjoyment by current residents here.