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Seeing Patterns in Siouxland, City and Country

16 Apr

While out shooting I always try to see “new” things or at least revisit something I may not have paid attention too previously while driving about Siouxland. It was only recently that the idea of manmade patterns kind of jumped out at me. Not in a “lightbulb” moment, but a quite, Ahhhhhhhh, kind of realization while looking at some images I was thinking about using for this blog. It’s been kind of fashionable in smaller rural communities both in the town, but more likely in the country at farms to put up a “farm quilt” pattern on the side of a barn. A kind of fashionable trend that I noticed in the Siouxland area maybe around 2006 or so. And now one sees them more often. But in a way, those patterns have always been there, maybe in a slightly different form but still created by farmers, most often in their fields. To mention such an idea to my Dad when he was living would probably have provoked a raised eyebrow and a quick hand to my forehead to see if I was feeling ill. And then maybe a smile, knowing that I look for visuals where others may not.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A local grain elevator building with a patch quilt attached and a wind or storm induced quilt of its own with missing siding in Coleridge, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Clouds pass through rural Woodbury County, Iowa Thursday July 27, 2017, creating a patter in the sky that works along with the pattern on the ground after a farmer finished readying his alfalfa field for baling. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sunshine in Siouxland, Bow Valley, NE

12 Apr

Like many parts of the country, Siouxland is experiencing an extended winter season with only a spritz of sunshine appearing now and again. It will be nice to see on a regular basis again along with warmer temps, but until then one can only be patient and have another cup of coffee.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shapes and angles created by sun and shade in Bow Valley, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding History in Siouxland, Laurel, NE

10 Apr

While driving about in western Siouxland recently I passed through the small community of Laurel, NE. According to some online sites roughly 940 to 1,000 people reside there, depending on which site one reads.

Downtown main street in Laurel, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The community’s site states that recent investment is helping the place to grow and thrive in the most recent century. I enjoyed a couple murals in town that alluded to the community’s and region’s past, notably the railroad, which passed through  so many early communities and allowed them to grow and thrive with the expansion west, and the Pony Express of which I couldn’t find any information whether it passed through the immediate area or not. Most references for the Pony Express stated the route through Nebraska generally followed the Platte River which is more south of Laurel.

Wall murals remind residents of past history in Laurel, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A tribute to the history of the Pony Express is painted on the side of a downtown building in Laurel, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

References did state that the community was named for a daughter of one of the founding citizens and founded in the late 1800’s. Some information noted that actor James Coburn was born in Laurel.

It was interesting that there were some still original streets  reflecting the use of brick so many communities used for years.

Some streets retain their surface in Laurel, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

To me there is no end to the fascination of small town America, and sometimes I feel I am barely scratching the surface as I tool about looking for places to visit or that I happen upon. And like many small communities, Laurel also had a grain elevator near its downtown that services the surrounding agricultural community.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Some “old fashioned” wall advertising is painted on a brick wall next to a pub in Laurel, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A small grain elevator operates in Laurel, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Stopping by the Siouxland’s Adams Museum, Ponca, NE

31 Mar

As I plan future classes for some of the photography courses I teach through a Lifelong Learning program at a local community college, I like to visit places in Siouxland where I will take people prior to actually scheduling an outing. Sometimes places I have previously visited have changed and I try to know about surprises in advance. Recently I stopped by the Adams Museum in Ponca, NE while taking a drive out that way. The museum was closed when I stopped by but still afforded me an opportunity to shoot photo that I was happy with in a couple of respects. I love light and shadow and the interplay of the two working together, and I also was happy to see the sunshine again. With winter storms still passing through Siouxland and bringing still a little more snow and hopefully more rain, the sunshine was a nice guest appearance until Ol’ Man Winter moves on.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A shadow of the entrance gate to the Adams House Museum in Ponca, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Declaring Fame in Siouxland, Maskell, NE

29 Mar

Fame always seems to be a fleeting characteristic. Notoriety whether good or bad is a way of attracting attention. It had been a while since I had driven into western Siouxland, Nebraska, that is and taken what is known as the Outlaw Trail, in today’s terms, Hwy. 12. It is a stretch of road and history where outlaws famous and not so much travelled as they looked for cover.

Along that route is the small community of Maskell. When I stopped by there in 2013 it had a population of 67, which has now grown to 73, at least by information currently available.

A roadside informational sign for Maskell, Nebraska, a small rural community with a population of 67 which promotes itself as having the smallest City Hall in the United States, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It sits among rolling hills in eastern Nebraska and claims that it has the smallest city hall in the United States.

The claim for the smallest city hall in the United States supposedly resides in Maskel, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Possibly an art deco way of spelling out City Hall on the same building in Maskell, Nebraska, a small rural community with a population of 67 which promotes itself as having the smallest City Hall in the United States, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it is tiny. I had visited the community in the early 2000’s when I was working for a newspaper and remembered arranging to photograph a council meeting and needing to borrow a fisheye lens to accomplish that fact. A quiet community that posts results of its meetings on the only window in the building.

Minutes of a meeting that took place August 7, 2013, are taped to the window of Maskell, Nebraska’s, City Hall building, a small rural community with a population of 67 which promotes itself as having the smallest City Hall in the United States, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The building and area didn’t look much different than when I last passed through it, the entrance off of Hwy. 12. And a person needs to make the effort to drive through and take a look, and surely will not be disappointed with what they see.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The street leading up to what is claimed to be the smallest city hall in the United States in Maskel, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Maskell, Nebraska, a small rural community with a population of 67 promotes itself as having the smallest City Hall in the United States, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013.

 

Maskell, Nebraska, a small rural community with a population of 67 promotes itself as having the smallest City Hall in the United States, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013.

 

 

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge

17 Jan

Last fall while heading to southern Siouxland I stopped in at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge which actually straddles two states, Iowa and Nebraska, and did a short hike in nice weather, but limited area because of the migratory waterfowl movement in preparation for winter. It’s a nice place to spend a day, or even half a day. it also houses historical information about river movement during the early territorial times when people and goods moved upriver to the outer reaches of the early westward expansion of the U.S.

A raptor keeping watch for lunch along an inlet from the Missouri River at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A trail map of the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

There are a few exhibits within the learning or welcome center with staff there to assist one. And local area schools visit to learn more about their area and local history and the early pioneers.

A local school group visits the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge and play games that relate to animals found near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Exhibits abound at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge welcome center near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

But the attraction really is watching migratory birds that pass through, resting on their yearly trips and exploring the area through various trails that are easily accessible.

A walking trail makes its way through the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Trails traverse wooded areas at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A view out of a window at the welcome center at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge show resting geese near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

It’s a good place to get away from the stresses of the world, commune with nature as it were and just enjoy some peace and quiet.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring Small Towns in Siouxland, Blair, NE

9 Jan

On one of my visits in southern Siouxland I stopped by to visit the nearby community of Blair, NE. A small community with a pretty downtown. It’s just down the road from the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge and is maybe 10-12 miles from Missouri Valley.

Downtown’s main street remains busy in Blair, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The Washington County seat is located in Blair and it has a rather impressive courthouse just off of the downtown area. It has a population just under 10,000 and seems to be a fairly thriving community with a lot of harvest trucks passing through the downtown area as farmers finished their fall harvests of corn and soybeans.

Washington County Courthouse in Blair, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A statue of a Union Soldier on a monument to those who served during the Civil War stands in front of the Washington County Courthouse in Blair, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I kind of figure with prediction of snow coming and colder temps my forays out may slow a bit, but I am still hopeful to do more exploration around Siouxland during the winter months. I may just not be walking as much  when I am out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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