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Celebrating Fall Harvest in Siouxland at the Heritage Village, Sioux Center

7 Oct

An annual event in Sioux Center is the Heritage Village Harvest Festival that celebrates early pioneer life in Siouxland. The Friday of that particular weekend local schools generally bring some of their school children to visit to see what life was like one or even two centuries ago without the modern convenience of grocery stores or indoor plumbing.

School children try their hand at pumping water during the Heritage Village Harvest Festival in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday Sept. 15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Heritage Village volunteer Dave Schelhaas gets a young volunteer to help dig potatoes in the garden during Harvest Festival in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday Sept. 15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Volunteers dress up in period outfits and help to explain to the children and visitors alike the types of life and “appliances” previously used by settlers who first arrived in the immediate area in which the children live and the kind of life they encountered.

Visitors wait their turn to look inside a small sod house which was a normal dwelling during early pioneer days during the Heritage Village Harvest Festival in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday Sept. 15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Heritage Village volunteer Gloria Hoekstra shows young students from a local school how butter is made during Harvest Festival in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday Sept. 15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children are rightfully amazed at how people lived decades ago and how much progress has been made. So many, even living within an agricultural area such as Iowa, have never been to a farm and their parents probably don’t have a garden. So a little dose of history and the understanding of so many things we take for granted today is beneficial to them and other visitors too. When I hear of people talking about “simpler” times I must consciously keep from rolling my eyes and asking which times? Before air conditioning or after it. And for whom. Not all people enjoyed the benefits of progress as they were first introduced and so I wonder how much simpler times were then.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Community of History in Siouxland, Granite

27 Sep

While visiting the Gitchie Manitou State Preserve earlier this summer I also stopped in the community of Granite.

A sign pokes a little at itself as a community that has more residents previously in Granite, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s remaining residents have a sense of humor and have created a small town square to remember its local history, a community created with the coming of the railroad. And it seems the community is best known for its annual threshing bee held in July.

A sign outside of town advertises the THreshing Bee that takes place every summer in July at Granite, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I brieftly talked with one resident, inquiring about his metal roof since I was looking at having my house’s roof replaced. He gave me a little overview of the community and its history.

Resident and contractor Gregg Beldin, left, speaks to another resident about a project she needs done in Granite, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. Traffic congestion is not a problem and neither is standing in the roadway talking. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The pace is slow but the residents seem to enjoy that and the space they have surrounding them in this northernly portion of Iowa. The community erected a plaque detailing the history of community, its prominence during the early boom railroad days, which have tapered off like a lot of smaller communities that thrived when the railroads touched more rural lives.

A plaque which sits on a town square detail the history of Granite, Iowa, Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A plaque which sits on a town square detail the history of Granite, Iowa, Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It will be fun to revisit the small community during its two-day festival and see how difficult it will be to find parking and to see the place bustle with activity like it did in its early days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating History in Siouxland, Yankton, SD

17 Sep

As I mentioned previously a number of communities have community celebrations toward the end of summer which then leads them into the fall season. Yankton, SD recently celebrated its Riverboat Days with a parade and art fair.

Color guard at the Riverboat Days parade in Yankton, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like most parades everything was patriotic. Flags were flying everywhere and for this particular parade I focused my photography on that aspect of it.

Antique cars drive through the Riverboat Days parade in Yankton, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is nothing wrong in showing one’s allegiance through flying your country’s flag. I found it interesting how some parade participants accomplished that. It challenges one to carry a theme through a shoot sometimes, although I may have broken that theme by including a band’s cheer squad’s flags, but sometimes a little contrast is needed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying a Day in Siouxland, Dunlap

28 Aug

The more I travel about Siouxland the more I keep encountering small communities such as Dunlap. With a population slightly under 1,000 residents and sitting on the edge of the Loess Hills in southern part of Siouxland it is a community looking to revitalize itself and make it an enjoyable place to live and raise a family.

The surrounding countryside can be seen from downtown Dunlap, Iowa Sunday, June 25, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like so many small Siouxland communities it is sustained by an agricultural economy but seems to be breathing new life into itself with a downtown that is small but “smartly dressed” and welcoming to visitors. On days like the one I visited Dunlap there may not be a lot of activity to do other than to walk around and wonder about its residents who created the town in 1871. The prairie land then and naturally a railroad played a part in its creation. And it’s nice to see community still thriving. So many small towns never reach a potential original founders might have dreamed about, and many succumb to loss of inhabitants and continue a long, slow decay of decline, while others come together and thrive and enjoy the benefits of what they have and continue to create.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Learning about Siouxland History, Sioux City

24 Aug

Recently I went on a walking tour in Sioux City sponsored by the local public museum and hosted by Tom Munson, an archivist and historian with the Sioux City Public Museum. After a walk through the Peirce Mansion, a historic home in Sioux City, Munson talked about John Peirce and other early settlers and “movers and shakers” of Sioux City history. Siouxland is replete with history throughout its region having been settled in the mid-1800’s by those looking west from the East Coast for another start in life. John Peirce was one those early settlers and land speculator in the early days of Sioux City.

A portrait of John Peirce hangs in a formal sitting room as visitors explore the Peirce Mansion and talk with volunteers about restorations and the history of it in Sioux City, Iowa, Thursday July 13, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Munson took his group of about 150-200 people through a walking tour of Peirce’s built home in which he never actually lived throughout the neighborhood and talks about the interconnecting lives of those early financiers who helped build Sioux City. The 2-3 block walk showed off changing styles of architecture as well as come colorful history of the city’s founder’s and those who helped propel it to success in it’s early days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Venturing over Siouxland’s Border, Steen, MN

22 Aug

I spent part of a recent day visiting an Iowa State Preserve in Siouxland near the South Dakota border which is also not far from the Minnesota border. While heading  home I saw a sign that said, Steen, MN, six miles. I made a detour. After living in Iowa for a number of years I have not ventured into Minnesota. No particular reason, I just never got there. When I hit the outskirts of the small community I had not even realized I had crossed a state border.

A sign at a park welcomes visitors to Steen, Minnesota Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Steen is a tidy little community. Originally settled by one Ole P. Steen who fought for the North during the Civil War as a calvaryman. Like many of Iowa’s early communities, Steen was created, 1888, because the Illinois Central Railroad needed a railroad station. Today it’s population is a little over 170 people according to the 2014 census. Many communities that start as a railway hub eventually hit a peek as that hub moves to another community. After having spent a bit photographing various aspects of the community, a pick-up stopped next to me and a man popped out introducing himself as mayor. He was quick, and handed me a little booklet about the community’s centennial which occurred in 1988. A man proud of his hometown and a place he calls home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland History in Harrison County, Welcome Center Missouri Valley

12 Aug

A few weeks back as I was getting out exploring some new areas to me in Siouxland, I finally visited the Harrison County Welcome Center outside of Missouri Valley. The Welcome Center and its museum originally started as a personal project of a Preston Niles who moved there and started an orchard and then a store and finally a small museum as it was situated on the Lincoln Highway, Route 30, that travelled across the country from east to west. The Welcome Center and its small village and museum has so many items and pieces of history that it’s easy to spend a couple of hours reading about all the items.

The Welcome Center and Harrison County Historical Museum near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Situated outside is a long wooden culvert that was used during the WWII era when metal was in short supply for drainage for communities. Talking with a docent she informed me that when more recent work began around the museum area, the culvert was discovered. And rather than throwing it into the landfill, added it to the other historical items, such as a Bible from the Civil War era, that is from the local area surrounding Missouri Valley.

A Bible from the Civil War era on display at the Welcome Center and Harrison County Historical Museum near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Docents at the Welcome Center and Harrison County Historical Museum explained that during WWII with a short supply of metal because of the war, wooden culverts were used for drainage in the area near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During a massive flood of the Missouri River during 2011 the docent told me some structures were lost and items from those individual displays were put together in a newer building that is more flood resistant than the former wooden structures, although not as historic in nature. And on a hot day, as this particular day, visitors can also try out some cider that is made there. Evidently part of the original owner Niles had an orchard and beside selling its fruit, also made non-alcoholic beverages from the fruit.

The Welcome Center and museum area is certainly a nice place to spend half a day acquainting oneself with local history and understanding some more of Iowa’s development in Siouxland.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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