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Enjoying a Literate History in Siouxland, John G Neihardt and Bancroft, NE

18 Oct

People attend the John G Neihardt Day celebration at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Every year citizens and literary fans of John G Neihardt get together to celebrate his life at a small museum dedicated to him and his writings. Scholars attend and extol his virtue and foresightedness plus his friendship with another culture at the time of his life, Native Americans living in the area.

Pathways of understanding and turmoil in a garden site at the John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Pathways of understanding and turmoil in a garden site at the John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The study that Niehardt wrote in is preserved and one can gaze into it and wonder about this person who didn’t dislike his aboriginal neighbors but rather embraced and learned from them. Writing tomes about his friendship and their beliefs. In today’s crazed society to publish every little nuance and inkling at first blush of thought, this man was more introspective and deliberate in putting his thoughts to paper and sharing those insights. Something which seems a little quaint these days.

The John G Neihardt study where he did much of his early writing at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The John G Neihardt study where he did much of his early writing at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I can’t really assume that simple times meant simpler thoughts. It’s just that maybe folk took a little longer to ponder and consider before engaging. Life was hard then as it is now. It may just be hard in a different fashion. But taking time to reflect and think is something that never really goes out of fashion but seems often overlooked in today’s society.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People attend the John G Neihardt Day celebration at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

People attend the John G Neihardt Day celebration at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The John G Neihardt study where he did much of his early writing at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The John G Neihardt study where he did much of his early writing at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History in Siouxland and not on the Prairie, Storm Lake

6 Oct

The Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and originally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and orginally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes dropping into a small community in Siouxland one finds interesting places, but timing prevents further exploration. I have seen this log cabin house and one-room school house numerous times visiting Storm Lake, but have not stopped to explore. This time I did, as much as I could, peeking inside to see what life appeared like that the homesteader who built this house lived in. It’s good I think to ponder life before modern conveniences if only to appreciate more of what is now available. Life today is possibly no harder than settlers on the prairie given the times then, it just depends on one’s situation at the time for each individual. Without technology now I couldn’t share my photographic musings and trips with others who may not have an opportunity to see this area, much like I view other people’s travels, near and far, and enjoy what they share.

A look inside the Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and originally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look inside the Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and originally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look inside the Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and originally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life definitely was much starker then, but for the times modern conveniences provided pot-bellied stoves for cooking and winter warmth and by today’s standards a more humble adobe. But it was no less a home than its owners appreciated and maintained and enjoyed. The same can be said of the one-room school houses dotting the midwest and other outlying areas as the young country expanded west. An opportunity for children to gain at least rudimentary knowledge that had been accumulated and passed on to them, with parents understanding the fundamental necessity of such an education. Small reminders of gained through simple technology. A place to find a blackboard and someone willing to share for a meager salary information acquired from over the generations of those who had come before.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Elk Township County School is similar to many early 19 century schools constructed to provide an education to rural Iowa children now sits in a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting Spirit Mound in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

18 Sep

Spirit Mound is seen in the background behind some sunflowers at the Spirit Mound Historic Prairie near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spirit Mound Historic Prairie is one of the place and stops taken by Lewis and Clark’s Expedition researching the Louisiana Purchase for then President Thomas Jefferson. For Native Americans at the time it represented a place of foreboding, as a website states: “Long before white men came to what is now South Dakota, the little hill known by the Sioux as Paha Wakan was held in awe by tribes for miles around. The Omaha, the Sioux, and the Otoes believe that the mound was occupied by spirits that killed any human who came near.”

The trail head at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A trail marker pinpoints a spot visited by the Lewis and Clark Expedition as it explored the “New West” for then President Thomas Jefferson seen at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The day I visited there were going to people out on the trail helping visitors to learn a little more about the Mound and other aspects of the area. But a morning rain”washed away” the volunteers as the event was postponed to the following day. But I don’t always let a little water dampen my enthusiasm or gear. And I missed the rain, and the informational pieces as I didn’t attend the following day, but enjoyed the short walk and look at Spirit Mound again as I had visited previously.

Rain puddles fill a walking trail at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Rain drops cling to a sign at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But there are now informational plagues erected along the trail to give a visitor some background and information one would have to research later, which still wouldn’t be a bad idea to understand more about Lewis and Clark’s expedition and the Native Americans who lived in the area centuries before. History can be fascinating and sometimes it seems surreal to walk in an area visited a century or two or more by explorers and others who lived in an entirely different world.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An informational plague talks about the history of Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Storm clouds appear on the horizon nearSpirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning History Outside of Siouxland, the Waterman Area Heritage Society, Waterman, IL

16 Sep

Travel can always be an educational experience. If one decides to do that. I came upon a small town museum that packed a lot of local history within its walls and two women who were happy to share it. The Waterman, IL, Area Heritage Society had only a few large displays but tons of stuff to peruse.

A local barbershop is created in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While taking a few photographs and browsing artifacts, the two volunteers began telling me about the area and sharing stories of their growing up. The museum had quite a collection of “antique” phones, mostly rotary dial but also some push button ones, which they remarked that school children can not imagine using. Let along hearing stories about country “party lines” where maybe 10 families used the same line to talk with another and others and at times had to be vigilant about that one busy body who liked to listen in on other’s conversations.

Volunteers share a funny story about local history in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I was lucky as well in that I happened upon the small museum with 10 minutes left before it closed. So I didn’t spend a lot of time perusing items on display but did learn about an area family that built a scale replica of a ship that was placed over a vehicle and the family traveled the United States participating in various parades.

A tribute to the Eakle Family that traveled and participated in many municipality parades across the country during the 20th Century seen in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Recorded history via a photograph in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One item of note the volunteers pointed out were broaches that were created in probably the 19th Century. I had seen something similar at another museum I was visited and the broaches were made with human hair collected over a period of time and probably done over the winter months when going outside might not have been an option then as streets snow removal was probably not what it is today.

Fine craftsmanship broach pins done with human hair seen in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So many small museums, so little time, but serendipity can be one’s friend if a person does nothing more than simply look and push open a door to see what lies on the other side.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Items of note on display in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Graduates of a former community school seen in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Walk Outside of Siouxland, Hennepin Canal Parkway, Rock Falls, IL

10 Sep

A walk and bike trail along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent trip I had a little time to stretch my legs after a bit of a drive and decided to check out the Hennepin Canal Parkway near where I was staying. For a later summer’s walk the temperature was not terrible or the humidity. I had checked out the Hennepin Canal Parkway a few years ago when visiting some relatives. The canal travels a bit of a distance, and for bike riders that gives them a good ride on even ground. I saw a couple headed out as I was walking back to my vehicle. And the gravel pathway, more for bicyclists than walkers was nice to get the heart rate up a bit.

The Parkway’s site states:

“Constructed from 1892 to 1907, the Hennepin Canal played an important role in U.S. history and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Hennepin was the first American canal built of concrete without stone cut facings. Although the Hennepin enjoyed limited success as a commercial and industrial waterway, its construction involved a number of engineering innovations, and its waterway, locks, aqueducts and adjoining towpath continue to provide a beautiful recreational resource.

The towpath provides 155 miles of hiking/biking fun from the Illinois River to the Rock River, with the feeder canal path to Rock Falls.  Segments of the trails are open to horseback riding and snowmobiling in season.  Fishing along the Hennepin is outstanding, and the canal is open to boating and canoeing (locks are no longer operational and must be portaged).  Campgrounds and day use areas are located all along the canal.”

I knew I wasn’t going to go any distance and kept stopping every wee bit to photograph, so maybe I didn’t get my heart rate up that much. But I really enjoyed the light play and reflection coming off the water in the canal.

Reflections in the water along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Reflections in the canal seen from a walk/bike trail path along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The part of the canal I walked is surrounded by trees and farm fields. I was lucky to have a nice sunny, blue sky kind of day as well. I am certain had I waited around, I might have gotten some nice sunset light, but water, trees, damp soil and I knew I would be mosquito bait just waiting to happen.

A meadow scene along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The afternoon early evening light though created some nice scenes and allowed me to play with light and shade. Something I can enjoy anywhere, as long as the sun cooperates.

The Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Backlit leaf along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

But as I walked along the canal the water seemed to become more active and I started seeing more light refraction that to me became more intriguing as I walked along. And while my heart rate wasn’t racing from my causal walk, I realized I needed to stop and head back, otherwise I would be in the next county, having taken hundreds of water photos of water reflections. Patience and discernment is sometimes necessary as I walk and shoot photos. On trips one can never go back again, but then again, shooting tons of photos doesn’t help the eye become better at creating a photograph one might consider a keeper, if just for oneself, as well as avoiding a half day spent editing. Being practical is important too.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Reflections in the canal seen from a walk/bike trail path along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Reflections in the canal seen from a walk/bike trail path along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

 

 

Enjoying a Fair History Trip in Siouxland, Plymouth County Fair, Le Mars

6 Sep

The display about the farming milk industry is on display in the Round barn at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One aspect of county fairs I enjoy is a history component that some fairs offer to visitors through exhibits, celebrating Siouxland’s past and what may still be relevant in this day and age. With the Blue Bunny Ice Cream company located in Le Mars it is not a stretch when an exhibit about dairy farming is presented in the historical Round Barn at the fairgrounds. Dairy farming is not for the faint of heart. It’s a become a 24-hour operation with the larger scale “industrial” type of dairy farms. After all, it’s America, and to continue to thrive bigger is always better and these days necessary.

The Round Barn has been a fixture at the Plymouth County Fair grounds for years in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display about the milk industry and farming on display at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Growing up on a dairy farm though I remember my dad milking in the early morning hours and then again early evening. Even with a small herd, it’s a twice-a-day operation 365 days of the year with no days off and seldom any vacations. But farming is that, a calling with a dedication and a willingness to always be on call as needed to get the necessary chores done and enjoy life, while certainly hard at times, had rewards many people seldom experience.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A display about milking and its role in farming is on display at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A small display about barns is seen inside the Round Barn at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Pioneer Village has food booths, a blacksmith shop and other places to browse as well as a small outdoor stage where performances occur at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A popular place in the Historical Village at the Plymouth County Fair is the Bakery Shop in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating an Anniversary in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

4 Sep

Chlldren learn about tin smithing as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

Recently the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in Siouxland celebrated its 22nd anniversary of its inception and growth its achieved as a local state park. It hosted activities and tours through its many buildings that reflect area history of early pioneer days and one family’s legacy which became the park.

A threshing bee demonstration as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Visitors check out various activities like threshing as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Various displays show early 20th century know-how as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

The park is just a nice place to go for a walk either a short one through the historical homestead or a longer one that runs in part along the Missouri River and through a cottonwood forest. The park has made itself a much beloved community member with continuous activities for families and children and hosting events throughout the year. And in three years time the celebration might be a blow out event at 25 years old and still going strong.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Scouts try their hand at baking items inside of cast iron pots as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

A homestead cabin at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve which celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Making memories as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Visitors head out on a hay rack ride as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

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