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Enjoying History in Siouxland, Without Knowing it, rural South Dakota, Beresford

20 May

Older barns in disrepair seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I traverse various parts of Siouxland while driving about I find that I see fewer and fewer older wooden barn. The rustic look, even in disrepair, hail to an era that has for the most part passed. Farmers or those farming ( industrial operations) no longer erect the wooden structures that at one time housed animals, harvested crops and machinery. As the bigger is better mantra continues to envelope America and it’s ideal of business the small farmer also has disappeared and the structures now that house equipment is metal or fiberglass. More cost effective, less maintenance and all of those things that attribute to the bottom line.

But I miss seeing the structures. And most times I happen upon them at the wrong time of day while out driving around. Maybe seeing them in passing. Sometimes stopping, sometimes not, depending on if I am time constrained to arrive someplace.

Two older barns seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The rustic nature appeals to my visual sense, but the use and disuse and decay speaks to another passing of an era where form and factor are no longer valued. That thought could be addressed to a lot of areas and state of affairs these days. When at a small time museum a few years ago a docent was showing school children and older wall phone which had the spin knob to wind it up and get a connection along with the ear piece held to one’s head and the extended speaker you had to lean into to speak with the operator, as well as the desk top model with the rotary dial.

The children had no idea what the two items were, and were quite astonished when they learned that what they carried in their pockets and took for granted was large, non moveable and didn’t have a screen. Advances in technology is marvelous with many wonderful inventions, but sometimes I wonder at what loss does this occur without the accompanying history that brought the state of humanity to this next level of achievement and the effort to get there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An older barn in disrepair seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Art is in the Eye of the Beholder in Siouxland, Making Decision on Representation, Little Sioux Park, Correctionville

16 May

A slow shutter speed exposure of water running in the Little Sioux City River at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Deciding how best sometimes to represent a scene found in Siouxland, or anywhere is dependent upon the person. And sometimes the representation doesn’t quite fulfill the artist’s or photographer’s intent.

Photographing moving water with a slow shutter speed, during daylight without a neutral density filter doesn’t quite capture the scene as well as very early morning or early evening when using a slow shutter speed would be more beneficial. But it doesn’t hurt to try, and practicing seeing and the skills and mechanics one has at hand is always a good thing I believe. Practice makes one better at achieving results and seeing in the first place. Of course, being prepared is helpful. But I don’t pack the suitcase when I go out photographing and walking. A couple lenses and a camera body and I utilize what I have at hand. Grateful when something works out, aw shucks when it doesn’t.

Of course, there is always tomorrow and another walk. I might not encounter the same scene with the same elements and lighting, but that’s the beauty of taking walks and exploring.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A correct exposure of water flowing in the Little Sioux River at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A View from the Top in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

2 May
A pair of Canadian geese are seen sitting in a former eagle’s nest, possibly enjoying a view from a natural Air BnB nature’s penthouse loft in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Tuesday April 26, 2022.

Sometimes when out wandering backroads in Siouxland I am pleasantly surprised by findings I come across. While out looking for various waterfowl and spring planting attempts by local farmers, I happened to talk with a rural Monona County resident who told me some geese had taken up residence in a former eagle’s nest. It was a interesting sight to see these two heads sitting on top of such a large nest. And they must feel pretty blesses to move in and the former occupants. Although the local resident said it was witnessed that an eagle was back, maybe checking on its sublet occupant.

I did find though that this one nest was not the only one occupied by a new resident. And now I wonder how many times I have driven by various areas in the country that have these hidden gems I am not aware of and have missed. Hoping for more revealing secrets as spring unfolds into summer. One can only hope.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A pair of Canadian geese can be seen sitting in an eagle’s nest possibly enjoying a view from an Air BnB nature’s penthouse loft in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Tuesday April 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Canadian goose can be seen sitting in an eagle’s nest possibly enjoying a view from an Air BnB nature’s penthouse loft in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Tuesday April 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing a Historical Landmark in Siouxland, Garfield Township Hall, Beresford, SD

28 Apr
The former Garfield Township Hall seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 the hall was built sometime around 1908. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bits and pieces of history are scattered throughout Siouxland, probably like many other places, and little recognized by most people, even those living in the area. Passed by and seen as some old building, maybe past its prime. The Garfield Township Hall is a historic place that served its purpose earlier in another century.

According to a Wikipedia account the township of Garfield was established in 1880. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. And currently it appears that someone or group is trying to give it a little TLC.

The former Garfield Township Hall seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 the hall was built sometime around 1908. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Township halls in earlier days was a place for pioneers and locals to conduct business in the area. At the time the region of Dakota Territory was being settled and developing from early trading posts and forts along the Missouri River. It is reported the hall was constructed sometime in 1908. It served as a polling place, a theater, a local government office, and a public meeting space. The Wiki report states that in 1936, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) added a basement and renovated the building’s facade to its present appearance. The Garfield Township Hall is one of the few remaining buildings of historic note that is still standing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The former Garfield Township Hall seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 the hall was built sometime around 1908. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seasons in Siouxland, Bigelow Park and Brown’s Lake, Salix

22 Apr
A number of Canada and greater white-fronted geese take off from Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Monday, March 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The “spring season” in Siouxland as elsewhere seems out of whack with weather bouncing back and forth between seasonal and a bit warmer, to still cold with biting wind gusts that reminds one Mother Nature is not quite done with sharing winter yet. A couple of different days checking out Bigelow Park and Brown’s Lake yielded different results. Wind gusts making temperatures feel like the teens and only allowing one to stay outside of a warm vehicle for maybe 10-15 minutes tops.

Sandhill cranes make a flyover at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some common mergansers look like low flying missiles over Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Monday, March 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A common merganser flies low over some Canada geese and other waterfowl at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the wind and temperature didn’t seem to affect or bother the waterfowl present at the lake. Flying in and flying out, taking wing on whatever pretext, although some did react to low flying raptors looking for a meal and watching perched in nearby trees.

A juvenile bald eagle surveys Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An adult bald eagle looks over at a juvenile bald eagle in tree tops at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Monday, March 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But as much as I like watching the birds fly about and test my skills trying to photograph them, the windchill and cold temps made the prospect of having breakfast and a pot of coffee a strong influence in seeking a warmer climate than my vehicle. And nothing like having another opportunity to try again to capture these creatures in nature.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A common merganser flies low to land at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese lift off at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese do a fly over before landing at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking Through History, Oto Cemetery, Oto

11 Mar
An older grave marker at the Oto Cemetery in rural Woodbury County Tuesday , January 18, 2022 near Oto, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have walked about a number of rural cemeteries I have come across in Siouxland. Reminders of those early settlers and pioneers who came to Iowa couple centuries ago looking for a better life than the one left behind. Walking through the various cemeteries one can never really know why folk left and traveled to an unknown area, then, far away and probably weeks or months in the making of the journey, considering it was done by wagon train.

Oto Cemetery overlooks the small community in rural Woodbury County Tuesday , January 18, 2022 near Oto, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Older grave markers have dates around the mid 1850’s at the Oto Cemetery in rural Woodbury County Tuesday , January 18, 2022 near Oto, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the folk were remembered, and most are laid to rest on a hillside, overlooking an area they settled to begin a new life. In a place still cared for, and with the occasional new occupant that comes to join those before them, laid to rest, for an eternal slumber, until the final calling they all most certainly believed in.

A peaceful resting place to await their next journey.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Older graves markers sit atop a hill at the Oto Cemetery in rural Woodbury County Tuesday , January 18, 2022 near Oto, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A detail image of an older grave marker at the Oto Cemetery in rural Woodbury County Tuesday , January 18, 2022 near Oto, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Thinking of Spring in Siouxland, Dakota Farm Show, Vermillion, SD

3 Feb
DAVID BERNDT, of White, South Dakota, looks over at another vendor’s booth during the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. Berndt said he “borrowed” his granddaughter’s carriage while she was eating lunch to carry items he picked up at the show. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Each year in January a regional farm show is held in Siouxland at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD. Various businesses and others associated with agriculture provide a look at new methods or tools that area farmers can check out and see if it’s a fit for their current method of farming or business.

Attendees at the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The floor was filled with vendors for the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A year ago when the cover virus was raging through regions of the U.S. and prior to vaccines being available, an attendee to this year’s event told me both vendors and attendees were scarce. And for good reason. At this event, I can only recall seeing a handful of people on the first day wearing a mask. But it’s South Dakota, open for business according to its governor who is very mindful of optics as she plots a course for higher visibility within particular groups of people.

Like in other parts of the U.S. COVID cases have recently spiked in South Dakota, bew people wore masks at the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A salesperson answers questions for attendees about DeWalt equipment at the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But important on most people’s mind this day was the coming spring and planting season and whether any new gizmos might be appropriate to purchase, and the at least check out. Because of supply chain issues and the ills that are affecting other businesses, the ag world in not immune. Used farm equipment is hitting all time highs and farmers, already under financial pressure because of tariff problems created by a former administration and loss of markets in which to sell corn and soybeans are understandably being tight-fisted.

Parts of Iowa last year were in a severe drought region and so far little snow this winter has helped alleviate what could be an ongoing issue. Last year a winter season that extended into spring and early summer pushed planting late and then the dry growing season caused more headaches. Timely rains helped out most farmers with a bountiful harvest, the threat is still there. It’s never too early to plan or worry about what’s coming.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

TYLER KOELE, left, and daughter SKYLAR, look at a new Ford pickup truck during the first day of the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One vendor flies an American Flag from the handle of a mop at the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History on Hallowed Ground in Siouxland, Fairview Cemetery, Albaton

28 Jan
Resting sites of early residents who may have settled the area seen at the Fairview Cemetery near the early settlement of Albaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So many small communities in Iowa, present and past, maintain cemeteries that collectively hold a lot of history of Iowa in Siouxland and elsewhere. But many times those histories of former residents or pioneers are not accessible to more than the few remaining residents or folk who live in the immediate area.

The site of the former Albaton Wesleyan Church, 1886-2005 at the Fairview Cemetery, near the early settlement of Abaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Fairview Cemetery is the final resting place of many early residents who may have settled the area two centuries previous near the early settlement of Albaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Resting sites of early residents who may have settled the area seen at the Fairview Cemetery near the early settlement of Albaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

At most sometimes one can find a listing of those buried within these various resting places like Fairview Cemetery in Albaton, but beyond that or knowing descendants or local residents, not much else can be discerned about the history of the place or its former residents.

Judging by the dates some of these folk buried here as elsewhere were pioneers to the area. Traveling by wagon train or walking to find a new life west of the Mississippi at the time. A reference to the former community I found online also showed photographs but nothing definitive about the place itself.

So a cursory understanding who settled into the area, and if they prospered will never be known outside of descendants if any exist. History is a continuum of life, but sometimes that life and history can be very fleeting on that long road.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Resting sites of early residents who may have settled the area seen at the Fairview Cemetery near the early settlement of Albaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Resting sites of early residents who may have settled the area seen at the Fairview Cemetery near the early settlement of Albaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The site of the former Albaton Wesleyan Church, 1886-2005 at the Fairview Cemetery, near the early settlement of Abaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cruising Altitude in Siouxland, Browns Lake, rural Woodbury County

8 Jan
A juvenile bald eagle cruises just above Browns Lake in rural Woodbury County Thursday, December 16, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like unexpected surprises when out looking for critters in Siouxland. Finding them in places I haven’t encountered them before is such a delight. While out checking one location recently and not finding any birds I had hoped would be there, I stopped by another, Browns Lake. With the recent drought conditions in western Iowa the water level is very low and so I didn’t expect to find anything there except a frozen pond. Maybe some geese, which weren’t there either.

Walking about a bit I did spot a large object moving along a tree line and headed toward the lake. Never a Boy Scout, I guess I wasn’t prepared as I had a long telephoto lens instead of a shorter zoom and so found myself trying to adjust and my framing as a juvenile bald eagle kept flying closer, and closer, and closer still.

Just cruising. Taking in the sights below and probably looking for a noon time meal or snack. I hope it had better luck than I.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A juvenile bald eagle cruises just above Browns Lake in rural Woodbury County Thursday, December 16, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A juvenile bald eagle cruises just above Browns Lake in rural Woodbury County Thursday, December 16, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A juvenile bald eagle cruises just above Browns Lake in rural Woodbury County Thursday, December 16, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting History in Siouxland, Adams House Museum, Ponca, NE

5 Dec
A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Through one of the photography classes I teach at a local community college I look for destinations for the class to visit near and far within Siouxland. Besides possibly introducing the students to places locally they might not have visited before, it also puts their photographic skills to test from composition to using ISO and white balance settings to possibly trying slow shutter speeds or dragging the shutter. My reasoning is that if they are on vacation someplace, they shouldn’t be afraid of pulling out the camera and using it to document their trip or to make awe inspiring imagery to share later with family and friends.

Volunteer Ken Johnson talks about the history of the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Adams House Museum is a brick home built in the early 1880’s by a local druggist named E.D. Ayers according to a printed handout presented by the museum. Volunteer Ken Johnson gave the class a quick history lesson about the house and some of the furnishings, not all of which are original but mostly period pieces to the early family that lived there.

In the early 1900’s a local farmer and his wife, Sam and Della Adams, purchased the home, and it was noted in the information handed out that only wealthier folk in those days could afford to build or purchase a brick home.

A stairwell leads to the upstairs while a doorway at left goes into a sitting parlor at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look at an earlier century of a formal sitting parlor at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Remnants of history on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always interesting to walk through a home museum. To see what appliances and other types of utensils were used during a particular time period one to two centuries ago. Various photographs about the museum showed snippets of history about the area and what it looked like before really being settled. Photographs showing the early days of a community are so totally different than what one sees today. Which is only natural, considering there are so many more folk living these days, and living longer.

A number of items within the museum were donated by area families, passed down through the generations are now on display for others to consider its place in history and a bit of reminder that actual people inhabited this house and others in the area helping create what it has become.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A small hallway seen at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photo of the Ponca Chiefs delegation on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A historical document signed in 1896 on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A historical document signed in 1896 on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Adams House Museum, a historical place documenting life in an earlier century seen in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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