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The Day the Music Went Quiet in Siouxland, National Music Museum, Vermillion, SD

10 Oct

I found out recently that the National Music Museum located on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD will be closing for two years for an expansion project of the museum that will add 16,000 square feet of additional space, which includes two floors and an underground level.

The National Music Museum ot the campus of the University of South Dakota, will be closing for a couple of years for expansion and renovation, seen at Vermillion, SD Tuesday, Oct. 2 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

From reading a press release and a current newsletter I found out that the 1910 former Carnegie Library expansion will include extra display area and a new performing space. The museum currently houses 15,000 instruments plus other material associated with them. It will be expanding its restoration area and be adding a dedicated research area.

I have visited the museum a few times taking advantage of free lunch time concerts that are presented there. A real treat to hear accomplished musicians perform their stuff. I especially like the Christmas concerts which gets a person into the mood for the season.

 

 

I will be sad not to hear a Christmas concert this year or next in the museum’s current performance space. It is small and intimate like a group of friends arriving at someone’s parlor to hear a performance. Performances will continue though at other venues on campus with a scheduled Christmas performance on the books. The expansion will benefit the museum though, and its continued service to the world of music and make a living art a little easier to ensure its future and enjoyment of music lovers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visiting History south of Siouxland, Union Pacific Railroad Museum, Council Bluffs

28 Sep

A history of the Union Pacific railroad and railroad history can be found in the Union Pacific Museum in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Various displays explain the evolution and progression of railroad history at the Union Pacific Museum in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s nice to find gems of history in your backyard, or a neighbor’s backyard that you can visit and learn more about the region and history itself. The Union Pacific Railroad Museum is full of memorabilia and information about the the railroad coming of age and during its “golden” years before flying and airplanes displaced rail travel. It’s amazing the luxury such travel afforded if one could afford it.

Various displays show the romantic version of traveling by rail at the Union Pacific Museum in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There was a lot of support staff involved in giving passengers a good safe ride on passenger trains. And I have read along the way that during those early days, when segregation was in full bloom that African Americans working for the railroad received a salary that allowed them a good living for their families. I have not researched to see if the pay was on par with others within the industry, but one would hope the railroad industry valued those employees also.

A display photograph showing the support staff used for passenger trains at the Union Pacific Museum in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum has some fun exhibits, like the one where the “station master” talks to the customer, a very life-like animated projection of a person and the various watches, since the railroad ran on a time schedule as well as a myriad of watch lanterns used by conductors and other rail workers.

An almost real life looking ticket teller projection gives some history about the railroad while trying to sell you a ticket for the next train out at the Union Pacific Museum in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of lanterns used by conductors and other railroad crew members seen at the Union Pacific Museum in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A railroad runs on schedule and a bevy of conductor watches are on display at the Union Pacific Museum in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum is a nice way to spend a couple of hours soaking in history and learning through exhibits. Sitting in downtown Council Bluffs, and only a few blocks from restaurants that dot the downtown area.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An almost realistic looking line of track at the Union Pacific Museum in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A gallery of photographs showing famous people who traveled by rail at the Union Pacific Museum in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding a Trail out of Siouxland, Western Historic Trails Center, Council Bluffs

20 Sep

Iowa and the Siouxland area was a jumping off point at one time for people two centuries ago traveling west.  A hidden little gem in Council Bluffs, the Western Historic Trails Center covers a variety of the trails moving out of the Siouxland area for people looking for a fresh start.

The Western Historic Trails Center tells the story about various trails leading west as America was settled and is located in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The center is situated in the southern portion of the city and is connected to other parks and places by paved trails, good both for walking and bike riding.

A sign delineates the distance for destinations along the trail that runs through and along the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Trails lead away from and to the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa seen Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. One particular 3-mile trail leads to the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge that crosses the Missouri River and takes the walker or biker into Omaha, NE, along the community’s waterfront. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One trail even connects to the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge that crosses the Missouri River and drops you into Omaha, NE along the river front. But inside the trails center is the story of people moving west. Small individual metal dioramas tell the story, as does early American postcards along a back wall depicting scenes from the possibly 19th and 20 centuries.

Quite an expansive area is set up to help explain the movement west by settlers as America expanded its boundaries at the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Various metal dioramas tell the story of the settlers’ movement west at the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The center has nice grounds where people can picnic or take a rest if using the trails, as well as a sculpted piece telling the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition. And it’s these stories in places like the Trails Center about the history of people striving for a better life that helps paint the picture of America and its becoming a nation. A melting pot of diversity and cultures blending together to live a better life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A sculpted piece by artist Nan Wilson showing the Lewis and Clark trip up along the Missouri River during their exploration for President Thomas Jefferson seen at the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A nicely shaded picnic area graces the grounds of the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Various metal dioramas tell the story of the settlers’ movement west at the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Revisiting the General Dodge House near Siouxland, Council Bluffs

12 Sep

I have been visiting Council Bluffs which is south of Siouxland a few times in the last couple of years. Recently I spent some time showing a fellow photo enthusiast a few spots in the area and one I like to visit is the Dodge House, former residence of one General Grenville Mellen Dodge who made his fortune by the age of 40, resided in Council Bluffs after serving the North during the Civil War, helped build and push the expansion of the railroad system west, served in Congress representing western Iowa, became a banker and a financier.

General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A portrait of General Grenville Mellen Dodge as an older man hangs in the museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A portrait of General Grenville Mellen Dodge sits on a mantel in museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dodge was an engineer by trade and had gone west, to Illinois, to pursue his craft and at the time worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. Dodge scouted and surveyed land for a possible rail route from Illinois to western Iowa, at the edge of what is now Council Bluffs. The home he built for himself and his family after serving during the war and as he entered political life and then worked again on behalf of the railroad was grandiose for its time.

A formal dining room where General Grenville Mellen Dodge and his wife, Annie, entertained guests, now a museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A sitting room/parlour in the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Vivistors are given a tour by docents with plenty of information at their fingertips to help put into perspective the life this man led and the accomplishments he achieved.

Visitors stop to take a photograph before entering the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors get an introduction in the hall entryway to the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Next door to the Dodge House Museum is the Beresheim residence, which was owned by a partner in the bank of which dodge was affiliated. A docent remarked that one of the owners did not like having to back his car out of his garage so he simply installed a round table, much like a record turntable, and would pull in, then step out and give it a twirl to turn the car and point it towards the door.

A peek inside a garage with a vehicle turntable near the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A docent, right, explains the use of a vehicle turntable to visitors in a garage located near General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The home and its furnishings which are period and not necessarily any of the family’s items is located in a historic district of town which still retains it brick streets and only 2-3 blocks from the downtown area, an easy jaunt for Dodge to attend to his businesses downtown. It’s also a nice way to spend part of a day, revisiting history and retracing steps that people of another century have walked and participated in life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Located in a historic neighborhood with brick streets, the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum is located in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An original piece to the home of General Grenville Mellen Dodge, the clock was purchased from a well known maker in the East, Simon Willard, and now is on display in the museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A work study used by General Grenville Mellen Dodge when he lived in his home, now a museum, in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning History in Siouxland, Sheldon

4 Sep

A number of communities in Siouxland have a museum. Sheldon‘s Prairie Museum is located in a former Carnegie Library building which is as beautiful today as it was when originally built.

The Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Sheldon Prairie Museum was a former Carnegie Library in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most of the museums I visit contain local history, photos of past residents and early pioneers as well as yearbooks of now closed schools if they are small communities who have seen their school districts consolidate with other nearby communities as small towns have gotten smaller.

I found the Prairie Museum unusual in the sense that it showcased some hard, not very nice history as well as the usual past. One display case talks about Mrs. Burnice Geiger, a daughter of a bank president of the Sheldon National Bank which residents learned in the late 1950’s and early ’60’s that Mrs. Geiger had been embezzling funds for many, many years, totaling a little over $2 million.

A display in the Sheldon Prairie Museum tells the story of a woman who embezzled money from a local bank in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And in the mid 1920’s another not so savory piece of history involved a Klan Konklave which is some still prevalent in parts of the United States. But since Iowa fought on the side of the Union during the Civil War locals were astonished that such an event could happen in their midst.

A display in the Sheldon Prairie Museum tells the dark history of a Ku Lux Klan enclave that occurred in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The story of a Ku Klux Klan Konclave appears in an exhibit in the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum has happier pieces of history and volunteers that help inform a visitor about various exhibits. One small room in the museum is pretty much the same as when a family occupied their home, the furniture still intact and original except for some reupholstering. Giving viewers a look backward into time at actual local residents.

Volunteer JoAnn DenBeste gives some background on exhibits at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The photo represents the look inside a Sheldon home in 1937, and the furniture in the photo is now at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The furniture in the exhibit remained the same as it was in a home in 1937 and except for some upholstery work and repairs is now an exhibit in the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Museums such as Prairie Museum help a visitor understand a community and give a better insight of history, good or bad, that residents encountered. Making a visit more meaningful and receiving a better understanding of times past.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A variety of exhibits can be found in the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Earlier residents of Sheldon, Iowa, now on display at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A photograph of early Sheldon residents, and survivors of the American Civil War, now on display at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History on Display in Siouxland, DeBoer Grocery Museum, Ashton

25 Aug

A little museum in Siouxland, the DeBoer Grocery Museum in Ashland, has been a place I have wanted to visit for some time, but never caught it open. But recently attending a Town and Country celebration I got my chance.

A local museum situated downtown in Ashton, Iowa Saturday Nov. 5, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The De Boer Grocery Museum was an actual grocery store in Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The store was a working grocery until the 1960’s or ’70’s I believe. That was one question I did not get answered while I was there. But the place is full of historical items with more behind it and a small house next door where the owners lived.

in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A baptismal font from the former St. Mary’s Church in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018, which was used for all baptisms from 1900 until 1972 when a newer church was built seen in the De Boer Grocery Museum. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photos of men from the Ashton, Iowa area that served in previous world wars, seen in the De Boer Grocery Museum Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An attached building has many farming items used pre, and probably post 19th century until Deere made available bigger pieces of equipment. I find that one can never encounter too much history, to learn about residents in an area and what life was like for them, even if at times it is presented in a more positive light than it probably was.

And even though technology has made life somewhat easier, at times it is no less hard as those who lived, died and celebrated life, good or ill, in the previous centuries. It’s what people do. And I am glad that it is remembered, even if in a small museum that is only open every now and again. The information is there, it’s up to the individual to seek it out and learn from it, or at least imbibe it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A prairie sod breaking plow circa 1918 used before a “regular” plow could be employed to begin farming on prairie land seen at the De Boer Grocery Museum in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A replica steam engine 1/4 the size of an original that would have been used for threshing grain early 1900’s seen at the De Boer Grocery Museum in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Early farming implements and tools see at the De Boer Grocery Museum annex in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An early agricultural photo seen at the De Boer Grocery Museum in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A Van Brunt grain seeder circa 1890’s seen at the De Boer Grocery Museum in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying What’s there in Siouxland, Dakota Territorial Museum, Yankton

23 Aug

Some days when one is out Murphy takes you for a spin. I was in Yankton, SD checking out an annual community celebration and decided to swing past the Dakota Territorial Museum. And it was closed. Ahhhhhhh. I was disappointed, since the hand written make-shift sign on the door seemed a little hurried, I guess something had happened. Some other people seemed disappointed along with me as they came back from the museum as well. I walked around the grounds and decided maybe it was okay this time to just look and make a couple photographs and be happy with that. And I did. Different time of year, different sunlight, or lack there of and a different look at what I was seeing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A luggage wagon that is part of a railroad depot display at the Dakota Territorial Museum in Yankton, SD Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of a railroad depot display at the Dakota Territorial Museum in Yankton, SD Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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