Archive | museum RSS feed for this section

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

Living History, or seeing it, in Siouxland, Wisecup Farm Museum

6 Aug

While visiting southern Siouxland this summer, I came upon another little slice of historical memorabilia. I find it surprising but also wonderful that there are so many museum’s of all stripes in western Iowa. Some in cities and small towns, but others created by people trying to preserve the past and help people understand what pioneers and early settlers lives were like prior to this 21st century. The Wisecup Farm Museum outside of Missouri Valley has a number of restored pieces of farming equipment as well as a one-room school house, a small chapel and homestead. A lot of stuff “stuffed” within the confines of a small space.

A variety of “antique” or former period farm machinery is found at the Wisecup Farm Museum in Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Antique Minneapolis Moline tractors form a line at the Wisecup Farm Museum in Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I appreciate the aged and no longer viable farm equipment I encounter because it was in use and the tech of the day while I was growing up on a farm. Farming today is as high tech as a number of other industries with satellite guided tractors and sensors to help farmers get the best yield from their tillable fields.

But it’s nice to know the what and how farmers got to this point. But it’s also nice that individuals find it important to share the past and help educate those of today. It’s been written that people are condemned to the past if they don’t know it. But that is another discussion for a better philosopher than myself.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Finding more History in Siouxland, Algona

28 Jul

On a trip to eastern Siouxland I stopped in the community of Algona. It was surprising to find so much history in a small area and I didn’t have the time to do it all justice and will need to return. I came upon a small museum concerning WWII concentration camps in Iowa that I previously wrote about. The community also has a county historical museum that has many, many items detailing its past.

The Historical Museum Kossuth County in Algona, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The couple there the day I stopped by were helpful and insightful about the community’s past pointing out a variety of items all of which I wish I had more time the day I visited. But that just gives a person the impetus to visit again and spend the time learning about an area near where they live.

As the saying goes, “It’s always good to know where you have been so one knows where you are going.”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Harrison County History in Siouxland, Missouri Valley

4 Jul

I have visited a few museums over the years as have many people. One gets a pretty good sense of an area and the facility by what is displayed and information given by docents present. A recent trip to southern Harrison County led me to the Iowa Welcome Center on Highway 30 just outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa and to the Harrison County Historical Museum. It was a nice trip. I found so much information packed into this facility that I will probably revisit it a few times over the next few weeks and show different aspects.

The museum itself is situated on land previously owned by one Preston Niles who moved to the area in the 1930’s. The docents said he had started an orchard and grew different fruit trees and sold the products to locals. But evidently after the “transcontinental” Highway 3o or the Lincoln Highway was built, Niles built a small stand and sold his produce and other products like cherry juice to travelers.

Preston Niles is the former owner and founder of the museum for the Welcome Center and Harrison County Historical Museum near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Niles sounded like quite the entrepreneur. He then conceived the idea to create a museum through which he showed various artifacts he collected along with paintings he did of the surrounding area. The museum began in a log cabin built in the late 1853 near Ames, Iowa, and later that land was purchased by Niles’ father. This cabin was disassembled, numbered, moved and reassembled at its current location.

The early log cabin that Preston Niles, former owner of the site had moved to Harrison County and now park of the museum complex at the Welcome Center and Harrison County Historical Museum near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Over the years Niles prospered, recorded the local history as he collected items and displayed them for people to see. At some point the Harrison County supervisors purchased the land and the museum from Niles and continued the display of early Iowa in this part of Siouxland. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours looking at all the artifacts and then take a walk on a short nature trail overlooking the the surrounding area.

It’s nice to see history preserved for future generations to learn about their local history.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

History in Siouxland, Algona

2 Jul

Exploring some of the outer reaches of Siouxland I ventured into Algona, Iowa. A small community bustling with activity. I have been told about it and stopped in enroute to another destination so I didn’t spend a lot of time. But I did stop by the POW Camp Museum located in the community’s downtown area. During WWII a number of German and Italian prisoners of war were shipped back to the U.S. via the ships taking supplies to the troops overseas. The U.S. camp administration in Algona oversaw a number of of prisoners (10,000 from April of 1944 to February of 1946 according to its website) along with other camps in the region.

Intern Allie Baker gives a history of the POW Museum and its significance during WWII that is located in Algona, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum details this information and puts faces to a number of POW’s who were hired out as laborers during their incarceration.

Photos of prisoners of war at work in the POW Museum in Algona, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So many decades ago but the museum puts into perspective the fact that the POW’s were not so dissimilar to those who homesteaded Iowa and became citizens during the late 1800’s. It was well worth the stop and definitely worth another visit the next time I visit the area.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland Historical Places, Grand Meadow Heritage Center

25 May

Wow scouting out some potential places in Siouxland to which I could take photo students I once again came across the Grand Meadow Heritage Center. I have visited it a couple of times previously. The site of a former school which houses a great deal of historical artifacts from the surrounding area. Three floors of the former school plus outlying buildings as well. Once a year generally in early autumn the center hosts an event. There is food, music, people portraying early settlers and a chance to go through the former school and see its contents. It really is worthwhile to get a sense of the area in another era and century.

But this day I was looking at what students in my class could see without getting inside any of the buildings. So it’s a challenge to visually see what might appeal and how they can put newly acquired skills to the test in capturing an image.

Shooting with a neutral density filter and slow shutter the windmill cranks it up at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center near Washta, Iowa Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When in school I always enjoyed history, but it is different outside of the academic setting and one is standing in a place the ages ago is so very different than what is see today in this 21st century. The old saying of knowing where you have been so you know where you are going is an apt saying, it just depends on whether anyone is listening at the moment. Places like Grand Meadow is a reminder. Harder times for certain, but in some ways, simpler, less chaotic and more centered.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

History in Siouxland, the Pettigrew House and Museum, Sioux Falls, SD

19 Apr

On a trip in Siouxland to Sioux Falls, SD, I stopped by a historical house and museum of one R.F. Pettigrew. This gentleman was the first sitting U.S. Senator from the state of South Dakota. He also sounded like a bit of a rough and tumble character, actually involved in a brawl with another politician, beating someone with his cane. Evidently gentleman were not synonymous with genteel. Pettigrew however did much for the city of Sioux Falls in its early days and was also a world traveler. There is a small collection of items in the museum from Egypt and the Orient from his travels.

It’s fun to learn about local history, even if it is next door and to find out how places were shaped through the actions of its citizens.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

%d bloggers like this: