Lewis and Clark and the railroad in Siouxland

22 Aug

Recently the annual Lewis and Clark re-enactment took place in Sioux City, with a Corps of Discovery encampment set up along the river front in Sioux City, Iowa, to give visitors a brief glimpse into the what life may have been like during that adventurous expedition. Individuals dressing up and acting the part of various personalities who originally participated in the exploration of what was the Louisiana Purchase. Also occurring was the Milwaukee Railroad Shops annual Ag/Rail Heritage festival, on the other side of Sioux City, giving those visitors a look at “old time” farming techniques as well as a look at the former glory days of the railroad in Sioux City which had a local repair shop that worked on train engines and box cars.

Also during the summer months, a Lewis and Clark Rendezvous takes place in Onawa, Iowa. As explained by John “Lizzard” Wilcox, a mountain man re-enactor, this festival represents what might have actually taken place during the same time period as Lewis and Clark’s expedition to points west for then President Thomas Jefferson. A rendezvous where mountain men had been out trapping for a period of time, get together at the end of a season of trapping. I wasn’t able to attend this year’s festival, but did attend in 2012. More images here.

All local festivals are little gems that some take advantage of but not many. And it is a shame, because each time I go, I learn something new about that period of time and meet people who have done the research into the time period, or in the case of the Ag/Rail Heritage festival, meet farmers who lived during that particular time in history. But in a few years time, that festival will have to use re-enactors because those original participants, that many of us now know as grandparents, will have passed on.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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