Unexpectedly Finding History in Siouxland, Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge, Monona County

21 Feb

A older sign designating a place as a campsite of the Lewis and Clark expedition when it moved through the area exploring the Louisiana Purchase found near Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge in Monona County, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021, near Whiting, IA. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes I find it amazing as I explore Siouxland the little things that pop up, whether true or not , because of a convenient history and clever marketing or the actual truth.

While checking out the Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge area in rural Monona County I came upon a sign trying to photograph White American Pelicans on the lake area. I was walking around the lake and looking for a vantage point to photograph the pelicans through the trees when I saw the sign, almost covered by weeds and somewhat obscured by a cornfield not yet harvested.

The Sergeant Floyd Monument is located in Sioux City not that many miles from this area located south of it and where the only Lewis and Clark Expedition member died while exploring the Louisiana Purchase territory for then President Thomas Jefferson.

When the anniversary of the expedition occurred so many years ago and people were traveling the country “following” the trail, it’s only human nature to find some sort of tie-in to history. Attracting tourism dollars is never a bad thing. And it’s more than possible that remnants of a campsite and/or mention in the journals’ of the explorers account for this area being a stopping point. Travel in those days was slow, even slower via a reluctant Missouri River.

A older sign designating a place as a campsite of the Lewis and Clark expedition when it moved through the area is found near Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge in Monona County, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021, near Whiting, IA. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring an area across the road from a where sign states a former campsite of the Lewis and Clark expedition was located when it moved through the area exploring the Louisiana Purchase and found near Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge in Monona County, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021, near Whiting, IA. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having previously worked for various newspapers I am always skeptical about information I find. I guess it comes with the territory as people either want to embellish their importance in life or trying to deflect something about that life. That truth seems a little more evident these days, but I digress.

Still, it is fun to think that standing there at that spot were some brave souls on an adventure exploring a country still in its infancy and having no idea how the areas they explored would look centuries later. The prairie these men encountered is long gone, now mostly farmland, and the Missouri River “tamed” by a corp of engineers, whose verdict, depending on who one talks with, is still out.

But on a sunny fall day, with a breeze blowing and geese flying for a brief moment one might think you are encountering a scene those men saw so many, many years before.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Geese fly overhead of an area across the road from a where sign states a former campsite of the Lewis and Clark expedition was located when it moved through the area exploring the Louisiana Purchase is found near Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge in Monona County, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021, near Whiting, IA. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring an area across the road from a where sign states a former campsite of the Lewis and Clark expedition was located when it moved through the area exploring the Louisiana Purchase is found near Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge in Monona County, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021, near Whiting, IA. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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