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Chipping in, in Siouxland, Fall Festival Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

18 Oct
A family poses with cow chips at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In recent weeks the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in Siouxland celebrated its 24th anniversary as a state preserve. And the park, as it does every year, hosted a fall festival. One of the activities that always draws a crowd is the cow pie chip throwing contest. Having grown up on a farm and done my fair share of “tossing” cow chips with a shovel while cleaning out a barn I am always amazed at folk wanting to participate.

One participant tries her luck at the cow ship throwing contest at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People line up to participate and watch the cow chip throwing contest at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Not to be outdone by the Olympics, volunteers with the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve measure the distance cow chips were thrown at the fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A cow chip “lady” retrieves previously thrown chips so more folk can participate during the cow chip throwing contest at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I noticed throughout the contest that there was no personal hand sanitizer available for participants and those volunteers who were retrieving the chips for other throwers. The nice thing about chips though is that the odor normally associated with cow pies was not noticeable. Small blessings.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Giving it a fling, brings smiles to some folk watching the cow chip throwing contest at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hometown Journalism in Siouxland, The Storm Lake Times, Sioux City

14 Oct
Storm Lake Times Editor Art Cullen speaks to the audience, attending the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues, prior to the introduction of a few Democratic candidates campaigning in Iowa for the office of President, at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently attending the Sioux City International Film Festival in Siouxland where a variety of short films: animation, documentary, comedy, etc., are shown, the feature film was a documentary about small town journalism, and the place it occupies in a community and the real threat of what is loss when that voice disappears.

The Cullen family, Delores, left, Tom, center and Art, right, share a laugh while answering questions from the audience at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Art Cullen answering questions from the audience along with his wife, Delores and son Tom, not seen, at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having worked for a number of small daily newspapers over the last couple of decades it was a story I am all too familiar with, and saddened, that these kinds of newspapers are struggling to just stay in existence, as are many of the locally owned “mom and pop” stores that support them. Some might say at times a love/hate kind of relationship, but something all mutually benefit from.

The “star” of the film is the writer/editor Art Cullen, who won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing that takes on the “more powerful, well heeled and moneyed folk than the common Joe.

A screen grab at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Storm Lake Times is a family produced publication where most all report, write and produce the twice weekly paper. All play a role, large and small, because for small town publications it truly takes a village to survive and no job is too small that needs to be done. And the large ones are there for tackling and making a difference.

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ones hopes that this paper survives and the few remaining ones throughout the country, much like mom and pop stores, they serve a needed value to the local community. And in many cases today as yesterday, connecting neighbors and telling local stories that local folk are interested in that concerns their neighbors and other residents in surrounding communities. During the last “caucus season” when so many Democrats were running a number of them made it to the Heartland Forum in Storm Lake where they got to meet to Cullen and answer questions about rural life and agriculture, no small issues for many in Iowa. And maybe hoping rubbing elbows with a known local would help them down the road.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen listens as Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) ) speaks during the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Democratic candidate Sen. AMY KLOBUCHAR (MN) speaks to Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen during the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen listens to Democratic candidate and former secretary of HUD JULIAN CASTRO speaks during the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen, on the right of the grouping, talks with audience members before a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Cullen family, Delores, left, Tom, center and Art, right, answering questions from the audience at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing History Re-enacted in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

8 Oct
A volunteer tosses oats into a conveyor during a threshing demonstration at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall is arriving in Siouxland as it is in other places. The leaves on trees are beginning to change, slowly, although it is still unseasonably hot making one think that maybe the leaves will not be so colorful this year due to a drought, lack of rain, and changing temperature scheme that is needed to make the change.

But unlike the unpredictable weather, there are certain perennial activities that take place, like the Fall Festival at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve. One of the annual offerings is a look at how harvesting was done a couple centuries ago. Although not using horses for the demonstration, the use of an older threshing machine and seeing how it functions gives people an idea that technology has indeed advanced much further beyond this equipment.

A volunteer prepares for a threshing demonstration during the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making them shine before a threshing demonstration during the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A grandfather and grandson watch a threshing demonstration during the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Today large combines run through fields comprised of hundreds if not thousands of acres of planted crops. There is still manual labor involved but not as much as was needed in an earlier century. When farming operations consisted of maybe 200-300 acres along with some cows, pigs and chickens and horses that were used for earlier farming later replaced by tractors.

Science and technology has made farming easier and more precise, but like in a lot of things, it’s always good to know where one came from to understand how one got to the current place today and what might be expected in the future. Farming still depends on hard work and luck though, as weather conditions play an important part whether crops can be planted and then harvested without any devastating storms or conditions that can cost a small farmer a fortune because of no return on the investment for planting and harvesting, and who has little cushion unlike large conglomerate farming operations.

History can be a good teacher and give some insights into the past if one only takes the time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Possibly reliving thoughts of his own youth and participating in threshing bees that occurred during another century among farmers in the Midwest while watching a threshing demonstration during the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A volunteer monitors the tractor and the speed of the threshing machine during a demonstration at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Chaff exits a threshing machine separating the oats from the stems during a threshing demonstration during the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning History in Siouxland, Kirchner Home at the Peterson Heritage Park, Peterson

14 Sep
The home of J.A. Kirchner, an early settler in the Peterson, Iowa area see at the now Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy learning a bit more history about the Siouxland area. Most of the region was first explored and somewhat settled in the early 1800’s with more folk following during midcentury and the latter portion beginning in the 1850’s. Peterson, Iowa was first settled around 1856 with a small fort being build in 1862 because of the Dakota Indian War. One of the first people to build a frame house was J.A. Kirchner who settled in the area was a farmer. Local historian and farmer Michael Hyde gives tours of the home and history about Kirchner and other early settlers who called Clay County home. The home had many of the “modern day” conveniences for its time period and more luxurious than living in a lean-to or sod house.

Local historian Michael Hyde talks about the J.A. Kirchner home that is now a museum and its owner who was an early settler in the area. The home is in what is now the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Local historian Michael Hyde talks about the J.A. Kirchner home that is now a museum and its owner who was an early settler in the area. The home is in what is now the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it fascinating and interesting to see what modern appliances and other items were available in another century. People living in comfort that today some folk might shake their heads at and not understand. But life is what you make of it and some people fare better than others which is sad. But one can learn to appreciate what is available now as compared to 100 years or more ago and what seems like hardship now may not have been then.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A comfortable bed at the time seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rope was used in place of bed springs two centerues ago for early settlers seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bedroom and its furnishings seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The dining room of the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A kitchen with modern appliances for the time seen at the J.A. Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Churning creme to make butter while seated at a kitchen windown seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Entertainment of an earlier century found at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children of early settlers seen in the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early settlers in Peterson, Iowa seen at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Small Town’s Fame in Siouxland, Sac City

6 Sep
A visitor checks out the world’s largest popcorn ball in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While driving about Siouxland I always enjoy learning more about the bits and pieces of history in the many small towns in the region. The fame of the world’s largest popcorn ball is something I had been aware of but have never investigated until recently. And it was fun to see this “marvel” before going on to experience a firework fail while learning something new about my camera.

A pictorially recorded history of the making of the world’s largest popcorn ball at the site of the ball in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The world’s largest popcorn ball created in 2016 and on display in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are probably some who will challenge this small town’s claim to fame but that is the thing about claims and records. Someone is always will to challenge the and outperform those who previously completed that challenge. Which is all good, because it gives folk a reason to explore an area and see what bits and pieces of history are tucked away, forgotten maybe, except for those who remember or live nearby. And such visits make nice memories for family outings and road trips and the change to tell others that “I was there”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The world’s largest popcorn ball created in 2016 and on display in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Art in Siouxland, of Any Kind, Joslyn Museum, Omaha, NE

15 Aug
One of several vintage vehicles on display by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy viewing art in Siouxland, any kind of art. I might not always agree with what I see or “truly appreciate” it, but not everyone sees the same way, nor should they. The Joslyn Museum in Omaha recently hosted a Model A Frod car club celebrating its exhibit of an art deco show inside. Making a trip with some friends who might be car aficionados or otherwise “car nuts”, I didn’t get to see the inside exhibit, but did enjoy the car show and the beauty of these early American classics.

A man photographs his wife inside one of the vehicles on display by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
People look over some vintage cars on display by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Family photos at a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And the current owners care of these vehicles represent a certain aspect of America’s past both in form and function. Listening to an owner talk about the narrow tire the earlier model vehicles had was because they were driven down the same “paths” that wagon trains and other early modes of transportation used and the tires would fit in those wagon path. Later, as roads were constructed to accommodate motorized wheeled transportation the paths or roadways became wider and the tire width for the next generation of vehicles also became wider.

A woman tries to get her son interested in a selfie at a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
People attend a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A vintage vehicle on display by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Joslyn Museum hosted a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club in honor of an Art Deco exhibit now on display in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the temperature rising once again and the humidity levels with it, maybe this next trip should be an indoor discovery of art deco and how that architectural art form was prevalent through out the American landscape.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People attend a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Joslyn Museum hosted a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club in honor of an Art Deco exhibit now on display in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Grand Architecture in Siouxland, Louis E May Museum, Fremont, NE

26 Jul
A grand estate, the Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I continue driving about Siouxland I surprise myself at finding unexpected pleasures like the Louis E. May Historical Museum in Fremont, NE.

Sadly, the museum is currently closed because of the pandemic, but am hoping it might be reopening this coming fall for a chance to see the interior of the former home.

The Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was difficult to find much information about the history of the museum and former home online. With just a brief mention about it on two official sites:

The home was built in the Italianate Revival style by Fremont’s first mayor, Theron Nye, in 1874. Nye’s son inherited the home in 1900 and remodeled the home from 1901 through 1912. The current style of the home is Georgian or Classical Revival and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is art of the Dodge County’s Historical Society. The home’s grounds are a Nebraska Arboretum Site, a grassroots membership-based nonprofit that believes environments matter and provide a better sense of place and social interactions as well as improving one’s health.

Another blogger wrote about the historical house in 2013 after a visit. I look forward to actually touring it when it reopens.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021 was originally built in 1874 by Fremont’s first mayor, Theron Nye. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021, has a perennial Victorian garden and a rose garden on the grounds. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Built in 1874 by Fremont, NE’s first mayor, Theron Nye, the Louis E. May Historical Museum is now listed with the National Register of Historic Places seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Living History in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park, Ft. Calhoun, NE

28 Jun
The canon is fired during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort.(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy the chance to see re-enactments of history, even a scaled down version as the state parks of Nebraska was still being cautious because of the pandemic, even though the state’s governor has pretty much declared the pandemic passed.

Because of ongoing concerns about the coronavirus visitors during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park still have limited interaction with re-enactors seen in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A small company of men perfect their parade ground routine during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently the Nebraska state parks have again providing programs such as the living history day at Ft. Atkinson in Ft. Calhoun, NE. The people portraying folk from the early frontier period before much of the part of the country became a state helps one understand their lives better and gain an appreciation of what these people experienced and endured at was once the farthest western settlements during that time period.

A military officer re-enactor greets visitors and gives them background information about the fort and its role in history during a hot 92 degree living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two young girls try to stay cool during a 92 degree day during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A young re-enactor portraying an early pioneer daughter of the fort’s shop keep exemplifies what many young people of any century might, boredom, during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Talking to the people at the historical park everyone seems to enjoy what is offered and those who take the time to share their love of history with others and spend some time not in the present and thinking about today’s problems, but what came before, the brave men and women who pursued some kind of dream coming west to a new place, making their way however uninhabitable or unfriendly it might have seemed. Pioneers who wrote their own stories, some of which we may never know.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Military re-enactors each lunch at a camp site during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A tin smith re-enactor talks about his trade to visitors during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
1st Lt. Gabriel Field served with the 6th U.S. Infantry at Dt. Atkinson when he died in 1823 and was buried at the post’s cemetery. A headstone of Field’s was first discovered by a farmer in 1954 and later in 1956 began a large excavation of the area of which the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park is based on, seen in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Fort Atkinson State Historical Park is a replica of the actual fort located in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting the Netherworlds in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

20 Jun
A visitor watches film clips of director James Cameron seen in the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though I live in Siouxland, a region that is part of what is affectionately or not affectionately known as flyover country, there are a number of museums, large and small, which one can visit and enjoy traveling exhibits, both visually and educationally stimulating.

Currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE is the exhibit James Cameron — Challenging the Deep. Film director Cameron put together various crews to explore the worlds under the sea including the Titanic and the battleship Bismark allowing Cameron to share his passion and interest with the deep ocean by creating an immersive exhibit using large video screen displays to show visitors what he and others saw beneath the ocean depth, in some place 10,000 meters deep, or almost 10.5 Empire State buildings stacking on top of one another.

A visitor watches a film of deep sea exploration from film director James Cameron at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An informative and elaborate set sets the stage for the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Costumes from the movie “Titanic” seen juxtaposed with film of the actual Titanic that director James Cameron filmed during a deep sea exploration and seen at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is a model of the Titanic as it appears underwater on display that is seen in some of the videos showing the exploration of the ship that Cameron and others recorded. The director’s fascination with the deep ocean evidently started when he was a young child and he nurtured that desire to explore as he followed his career path as a film director. Some of the problem solving in filming movies, such as the Abyss, helped Cameron realize what might be possible as he collaborated with experts in the field of under water exploration.

A mock version of the “Titanic” on display at the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Informational panels explain that director James Cameron held a long fascination since childhood about the sea and is told in the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Items on display used in filming some of the deep sea exploration seen at the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Through the use of underwater recording technology and deep ocean submersible vessels Cameron and others explore the deep, and film themselves exploring the deep which gives the exhibit viewer an idea of how this was all made possible at such incredible depths, with Cameron narrating what is being seen and how it was made possible.

And the exhibit in some ways becomes more interesting by the fact that its entire area is bathed in deep blue light or blackness, resembling what the various individuals must have encountered themselves as they dove deep to explore areas of the ocean not seen by many but now accessible to all through this exhibition.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An informative and elaborate set sets the stage for the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Visitors watch film of deep sea exploration from film director James Cameron at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Revisiting History in Siouxland, Heritage Village, Sioux Center

14 Jun
Earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

From time to time while driving about Siouxland I like to revisit places, even if it’s off-peak for any activity that might be going on. The Heritage Village in Sioux Center is one such place. A small replica village that celebrates the history of the early settlers and the agricultural aspect of the Midwest. The place has a different look during different seasons, even without the activity of its fall festival celebration.

Inside the earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Inside the earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early settlers traveled very light, or as light as they could if going west by wagon and any other means of transportation. Some of the early plains settlers lived in sod houses. The wall thick with cutouts for windows, the small abodes kept folk cool in the heat of summer and warm in winter. But with very little room to move about, it’s safe to assume most activity, weather dependent, took place outdoors. And in those days I am sure there was no lack of work to survive and hopefully to also enjoy themselves in simple pleasures, like a nice day with sunshine, light breeze and a decent temperature.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Inside the earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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