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RSS feature: Airbnb is a popular online site for Decorah homeowners and travelers

Posted: Mon, Mar 20, 2017 10:45 AM
Silo on the Ridge and CR Train Station Caboose

Hotels and motels are the first option many of us think of when traveling and looking into staying overnight. In this digital age, there are many more options available. This is part one of a three part story that focuses on the  Airbnb option.

Airbnb stands for "Air Bed and Breakfast." The company was founded ten years ago by California roommates who couldn't make rent. They put an air mattress in the living room and rented it out, hoping to make some money. After finding success, they launched a website a year later and the concept took off all over the world.

Airbnb connects people looking to rent their homes with people who are looking for accommodations. Airbnb users include hosts and travelers. The hosts list and rent out their homes or spare rooms, and travelers search online and book their accommodations. According to, Airbnb has served 9 million guests as of 2013.

There are currently over 40 rentals available on Airbnb in the Decorah area. The units range from traditional homes and downtown lofts, to a renovated silo and train caboose just outside of Decorah. Jim Dotzenrod owns two of the unique listings on Airbnb.

Dotzenrod restored a barn silo on his property with help from family. It took about a year to complete the silo. Dotzenrod and his brother added a roof to the silo, making many trips up and down the winding stairs. The second floor has bunk beds and a bathroom with a shower. The handrail leading upstairs was created from a grapevine that was originally wrapped around the bottom of the silo, but his horses had chewed it off. The main floor has a sofa and kitchen space with air conditioning and heat. There are televisions on both levels. A large deck surrounds the silo, making it a perfect spot to watch the sunrise or sunset. He began renting it out in 2015.

Last fall Dotzenrod completed the restoration of a train caboose he purchased. CR Station Train Caboose has the original conductor chairs and hand rails in the front room. There is a queen bed in the loft with bunk beds, a kitchen, and the bathroom on the main level. This year Dotzenrod plans to add air conditioning and a build a patio deck to the caboose, so people can have a place to relax outside and enjoy the view.

Both sites had many bookings, through the owner, but when he listed with Airbnb, the listings took off. The combined locations have over 75 reviews and all the reviews have been positive. The people seem to enjoy the unique buildings, the pasture, horses and views.

One guest left this review, "I've stayed in a lot of Airbnbs but this was by far my favorite. The caboose has beautiful views, is nice and cozy and Jim and his family make everything about staying here as easy as can be." Hosting Airbnb travelers is a great fit for Dotzenrod as well.  He says, "I like people, I like being around people."

For complete local listings check out the website:

Unique handrailing leading up to the second floor of the silo
The original captain chairs inside the caboose
Tiled shower in the caboose