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Forgotten Small Towns in Siouxland, Arcola, rural Monona County

10 Nov
Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History is a funny thing. Some things are never forgotten, and then others are never remembered but for sign posts. In Siouxland apparently as well as other places in Iowa there are a number of early towns of which little is known.

Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A hillside near where Arcola was situated, an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The only reference I could find doing a little searching online is that once a post office was in a township where Arcola was located from 1861-1187. The town came in to existence prior to the start of the Civil War and lasted for a short bit after the war between the states.

The countryside around the posted sign is hilly, part of the Loess Hills region in western Iowa and only happenstance while driving by allowed me to even catch sight of the sign. Now the area is wooded, with some surrounding farmland and a winding road that drifts off like a trail may have in those days when the state was in its infancy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Changes in Siouxland, Linn Grove

19 Oct
Water is no longer running over a dam in Linn Grove, Iowa Tuesday, September 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes in revisiting places one can find changes that are surprising. ON a recent trip to Linn Grove where a small dam was fairly active a couple years ago, the water has stopped running. Partially due to a drought for the area and also because of spring storms a year ago where the small river the dam was situated on cut itself a new channel because of the intense spring storms and rainfall. Feast and famine.

Spring storms cut a new channel diverting water running over a dam in Linn Grove, Iowa Tuesday, September 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Water is no longer running over a dam in Linn Grove, Iowa Tuesday, September 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

You can no longer even drive down to an area where people would fish along the dam and the drought has shrunken the small pond where I guess a variety of fish would hang out, unsuspectedly becoming someone’s meal at a later time.

Mother Nature can be awesome in her fury. It must have been a sight seeing the water rushing during the spring storms, but sad where you realized there would be extensive damage done. Talking to a local person while there they mentioned local officials were trying to determine how to finance the damage, which in this day and age the local person said could amount to millions of dollars.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Water is no longer running over a dam in Linn Grove, Iowa Tuesday, September 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Fun House’s History in Siouxland, Arnolds Park Fun House Museum, Arnolds Park

3 Sep

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I come across museums or revisit places in Siouxland I feel a little sad because I will never have the chance to experience what something in the past was like or remember the sounds emanating from a place as people enjoy themselves. I have my own memories of similar places, but it’s never really the same.

Historic photos of Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historic photos of Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some stories I have read about the long history of Arnolds Park Amusement Park and various aspects of it sound intriguing. From music venues to eateries, former sailing vessels and quaint cabins. A place built to delight locals and other visitors as well.

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum is a not a large place and as I have revisited it more and varied items keep appearing. I can well imagine many families have history and memories of their visits, the changes and joys and delights of vacations spent at the lakes.

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The items on display may seem quaint or a little kitchy but in context relate the history the small museum tries to share. Then one’s imagination takes over and a former visitor can relive memories and a new visitor can only imagine ones.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at a museum with history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rock and Roll in Siouxland, Rock and Roll Museum, Arnolds Park

12 Aug

The museum is a tribute to artists who played at the Roof Garden and other venues around the Arnolds Park Amusement Park area located in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In Siouxland it’s possible to find a wide variety of museums and places that showcase historical significance, if just to the locals. The Rock and Roll Museum in Arnolds Park is one of those places. Many artists up and coming have passed through the area playing a local venue, the Roof Top Garden to the delight of fans over the years.

The Roof Garden, recently renovated for an updated look, played host to a number of famous musicians and bands who played in the area over the years and located in the Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of musicians passed through playing at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reading over a list of who’s who and seeing various guitars collected and signed would make many a would-be musician and fan aficionado stop in their tracks and spend time looking and reading

the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Signed guitars by artists hang in a small theatre room with a video about the local music scene over the years seen in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a summer’s day when one wants to get away from the heat and humidity, and a poor excuse it may be, stepping inside and spending some time allows one a snapshot into many a famed artist who actually visited this part of Iowa in Siouxland, rather than “flying over” on the way to a larger venue.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A number of famous musicians and artists passed through the lakes area and are memorialized at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Deep Purple’s Tommy Bolin’s custom stage suit circa 1975 seen at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Bolin, a Sioux City native, also played in the bands Zephyr and James Gang. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Restoring History in Siouxland, Sanborn

10 Aug

A convertible Landau Phaeton car on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it amazing when I come across a museum in Siouxland that is quite unexpected. A local camera club friend had one time mentioned an automotive museum he had visited. I personally am not a car guy, and so looking at muscle guys or rebuilt cars does not pique my interest. But another friend and I stopped by the Yesterday Memories museum on our return trip from visiting the Iowa lakes region recently. And it was surprising to say the least finding hundreds of combustible vehicles and possibly hundreds more of other items celebrating history and all collected by a local couple who wanted to share this with the public.

Various neon signs calling attention to products as well as other advertisements on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1925 12-passenger tourist bus used in Yellowstone National Park on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Different variety and vintage trucks sit inside a display building at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Once inside it seemed the endless rows of vehicles continued on forever, each restored with some informational pieces about them. The Vander Haag family began collecting these items 80 some years ago according to their website, and the elder Vander Haag started business which was formerly known as a junk yard (salvage yard) that eventually morphed into a automotive and trucks part store that ended solely as a truck automotive parts business. The museum also shows a glimpse of life from the ’40’s and ’50’s and another room has cases of items from toys to house hold appliances invented and used over the ensuing years. One could easily spend three hours alone looking at the cases.

A display depicting a family’s kitchen era 1920’s through the 1940’s seen at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display depicting a former barbershop seen at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A fire engine red “Chief’s” car on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the true gem of the museum is the collection of trucks and early automobiles. Including an opera car to travel to performances in style.

A 1922 Ford Model T opera wagon on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1922 Ford Model T opera wagon on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1922 Ford Model T opera wagon on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

My friend and I barely scratched the surface exploring this space which remains on a have to return list for a day out in Siouxland. So much to explore, so little time it sometimes seems.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A display depicting a former maltshop seen at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of “antique” trucks from wreck touring to grain hauling and other uses on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1914 Reo Model J chain drive vehicle with gas lights on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1912 Ford Model T truck with an auto crane in the backend on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A Small Town and its Swedish History in Siouxland, Oakland, NE

4 Aug

It’s fun when circumstances and happenstance combine and allows one to take a peek behind the curtain. In Siouxland I am always amazed but yet shouldn’t be surprised while finding little historical gems. Maybe not grand in the scheme of things, but this country contains many more small towns and communities than large ones, and history doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

The Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE was built in the latter part of the 1800’s and was the First Covenant Church serving this community as a focal point for many. It closed as a place of worship in 1985, eventually becoming the center with its focus on the Swedish history of the community.

The Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look into downtown and the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The center or museum’s director is Tom Watterstedt who was born and raised in the community and returned in later years and has worked to take an occasional in the community’s history and become a repository of most things Swedish. His ancestors and other local residents ancestors have items on display with some coming from immigrants who made that journey to America to begin a new life.

Museum curator Tom Watterstedt talks about the Swedish Heritage Center and his own family history associated with it seen in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Gowns which belonged to Tom Watterstedt’s ancestors on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Memorabilia fills the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A coat made from a former residents best horse on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watterstedt talked about receiving so many literature items from local residents which belonged to ancestors that he said the center was running out of storage room but was loathe to chuck them in the recycle bin. So he used he training as a florist to create artful flowers for sale to help fundraise for the center.

Artificial flowers made from Swedish books of early immigrants donated to the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Formerly a First Covenant Church, the Swedish Heritage Center is now a museum of local Swedish history of the immigrants that made the journey to America, in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Local historical items on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As with most places during the coronavirus pandemic, the center has been closed. But with a phone call and advance notice, Watterstedt and other community members are more than willing to share their town’s history and about a small community of immigrants that helped created this country many of us call home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Confirmation graduates of the First Convenant Church now the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historical photographs of Oakland, NE seen at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Big Wheels in Siouxland, Union Pacific Train Engines, Omaha, NE

20 Jul

A display of the Union Pacific Big Boy 4023 and Engine 6900 on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Old trains are fascinating. The size alone bears some respect and the amount of steel in them seems somewhat unreal. South of Siouxland is a two-train exhibit near the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE. The display is dedicated to a couple of Union Pacific engines, one a Big Boy and the other a workhorse of a locomotive designed to pull tonnage across the country. When driving on I-80 through Omaha one only has to look up to see them looking down.

The Union Pacific plays a large part of the history of Omaha and a display of the Big Boy 4023 and Engine 6900 sits on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The display of the Union Pacific Big Boy 4023 and Engine 6900 on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center overlooks I-80 freeway in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Union Pacific has history in Omaha as well as in Council Bluffs. I would imagine thousands of rail cars pass through this area weekly. There is no telling yearly. And these two engines sit proudly on a hill top looking down as passing motorists look up, admiring their size and what stories each might tell during their years of service.

The history of Engine 6900 which sits in a display on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The history of the Union Pacific Big Boy 4023 situated on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display of the Union Pacific Big Boy 4023 and Engine 6900 on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A recurrent theme for railroad buffs must be that the trains never stop moving. Neither should the folk admiring them, although these days some added precautions are probably a good thing. And this exhibit is free and a chance to get up close and personal with history.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A display of the Union Pacific Big Boy 4023 and Engine 6900 on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Remembering History in Siouxland, South Bottoms, Sioux City

18 Jul

A memorial that commemorates a former area of Sioux City, Iowa known as the South Bottoms is situated along the Missouri River seen Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In Siouxland like elsewhere there was a portion of the community that settled when first arriving in the early years of the town, this was South Bottoms. People lived in this area from the latter 1800’s through the 1950’s, and were at that time living on the “other side of the tracks” or “wrong side of the tracks” as it was referred to for poorer or immigrant families. Although none of that was necessarily true. Because the Floyd River ran through the area there were some years when horrific flooding was an issue. And later, when a north-south interstate came through the area an enormous part of that community was affected.

A memorial that commemorates a former area of Sioux City, Iowa known as the South Bottoms is situated along the Missouri River seen Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was in recent years that the city of Sioux City has made note of the former “residential” area by erecting a memorial marker with some information about the place, although there isn’t a lot of information available at the site itself, or a reference where information can be found. People living here now and those who will call Sioux City home in the future should know a little about its past. Times change, as do the places where events take place and as people come and go.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A memorial plaque shows the boundaries which commemorates a former area of Sioux City, Iowa known as the South Bottoms is situated along the Missouri River seen Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A memorial that commemorates a former area of Sioux City, Iowa known as the South Bottoms is situated along the Missouri River seen Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Remembering Those Serving from Siouxland, Wakefield, NE

16 Jul

A war memorial park sits just off of the downtown area in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most small communities in the Siouxland region have a small veterans memorial park dedicated to those who served in the U.S. military during one of the many conflicts that the United States has been involved in. That is true of Wakefield, NE, where a small memorial is set up just off of the downtown area.

A War Memorial Park with names on bricks of service members and when they served in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dedicated bricks to service men and women with their names donated by families for remembrance and also in support of the park. A sign post at one end notes the various places that U.S. personnel have served.

A sign post representing many theatres of war of local residents who served at the War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Names on bricks of service members and when they served at a War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ideally many believe the world to be a better place if there were no wars or conflicts and if people worked more in getting along. But history reminds us that many individuals don’t share that sentiment. Those persons for whatever reason relish in conflict, or the need of power and dominion over others. And no matter the psychological implications or pathologies ascribed to these people, their intentions and actions still get people killed. Those who serve to protect their country from foreign folk intent on harm, a remembrance is a small, small thank you for serving.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Vietnam-era attack helicopter on display in a War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History and Religion in Siouxland, German City Church, Holly Springs

12 Jul

Locals have long worshipped at the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While not an ardent student of history, I do enjoy it and learning about places nearby where I live regionally in Siouxland. Iowa like many other midwestern states was settled by pioneers beginning in the 1800’s. Some folk settled as early as the 1830’s while others came in the 1850’s and later. The German City Church near a now small community of Holly Springs has been in service since the 1880’s. I have never attended a service or been around the church when it was open. But it is nicely maintained and cared for by its parishioners and is situated on a hilltop with a view of the surrounding valley around it.

A gravel road leads into the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the summer months the trees give the church solitude and allows one silence but for the birds to ponder those who settled the area a century or more ago and wonder about their life and the changes that have taken place since it was first built.

The historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding history and then spending the time to learn about it is important. All too often it seems the human race keeps repeating the same sins over and over, never learning from those who came before or teaching those who will follow that by the grace of God and a little bit of love and understanding, can go a long way in making the world a better place.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A scenic day with clouds at the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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