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Exploring a Siouxland Community, Hartington, NE

26 May

Driving about in Siouxland one comes across many small communities. If time permits and sometimes I schedule my day in a way to spend a little time exploring a place like Hartington, NE. The small community is the country seat of Cedar County and a courthouse plaque gives some background and history.

A plaque commemorating the history of Cedar County, NE on display in front of the Cedar County Courthouse in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Cedar County Courthouse in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was fun to see some still Christmas decorations on one of the courthouse trees. Either a reminder or a promise of what is to come again.

Christmas decorations still hang in a tree in front of the Cedar County Courthouse in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A well kept small town, there was some renovation as a former hotel that appears to be once again reinventing itself as a destination to stay during a visit.

Restoration of a former hotel is underway in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Restoration of a former hotel is underway in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

All smaller communities in America share that quiet place except for special events which makes visiting them a chance to slow down, take a casual stroll about and enjoy a less hectic or frenzied moment while still enjoying the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Restoration of a former hotel is underway in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The main street in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The local countryside is seen from the top of a street in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Restored downtown buildings, including a former department store owned by the Globe family in Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Supporting Agriculture in Siouxland, Dordt College in Sioux Center

20 May

Every spring Dordt College in Sioux Center hosts an Ag Day, which coincides with part of its educational mission in helping sustain agriculture in Siouxland and in general. There are at times a variety of equipment parked on campus, new stuff and old stuff.

Some older tractors were on display during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A large 24 row planter pulled by an equally large tractor which contrasts with older equipment also on display during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

What caught my eye walking about this particular day was remnants of a recent spring snow and the ever remaining low temperatures that made winter reluctant to cede to the coming spring.

A pile of snow from a late snow storm is still melting during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular day I arrived early in the day as I had an appointment elsewhere and saw a large number of elementary students roaming campus, looking at a variety of exhibits, maybe sparking an interest in some form of agriculture or related field as they grow and sharing a love of a land that encompasses Siouxland.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Children check out goats during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A young boy shows off a pet goat during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Chiuldren “play” on older farm equipment on display during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Westward Ho, Siouxland, Mormon Trail Center Historic Winter Quarters, Omaha, NE

12 May

The Morman Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters tells the story of the Mormon people after they left Nauvoo, IL and headed west eventually reaching Utah and the gives an accounting of the people and the journey to their selected sacred site, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent visit to Omaha, NE I came across the Mormon Trail Center, Historic Winter Quarters museum that tells the tale of the Mormons westward travels from Nauvoo, IL when residents there forced them to leave and look elsewhere to settle. I am always amazed at the pockets of history around and near Siouxland, although I shouldn’t be. At one time Iowa and the region was just a prairie and part of that westward expansion. Mormon missionaries guide you through the museum and exhibits helping you to understand their tale of reaching Utah and Salt Lake City which would become their mecca and a place of religious tolerance.

Sister Millet, 2nd from the right and Sister Price, right, are part of a group of Mormon missionaries doing their service by giving tours to those visiting the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bust of Joseph Smith on display at the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. The photograph in the background shows the Mormon temple built at Nauvoo, IL because the Mormons were forced to leave. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A painting depicting the Mormon journey west hanging in the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like any settlers heading west the Mormon people encountered obstacles in reaching their destination. The Winter Quarters museum explains how the majority of people stayed put two to three years while Brigham Young and other leaders continued west looking for the place to settle that Young had seen in a vision. The missionaries put into context the travels along with what else was happening in the U.S. during that time period. The Kanesville settlement in what is now Council Bluffs, Iowa became a early provisions emporium which also helped outfit other settlers heading west, including a number of “49’ers” headed to California to find their reward in gold, as opposed to the Mormon’s spiritual reward.

Traveling from Nauvoo, IL and heading west, a brief description of the Mormon trek heading west and through Iowa seen at the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A map showing the location of each of the camps of the Morman Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display showing the settlement around Council Bluffs and Omaha during the Mormon trek to Utah on display at the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History to me is always fascinating. People’s spiritual beliefs are more in common than not, it’s just that sometimes in getting to the same spiritual heaven, we find ourselves on different footpaths getting there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Taking a Peek in Siouxland, Coleridge, NE

8 May

A few weeks ago while driving in the Nebraska area of Siouxland, I stopped into the small Coleridge, NE to have a look. Many times while traveling to another location for work or pleasure I will make a mental note to revisit and area to check a place out a bit more. A community of not quite 500 people, it is reminiscent of many small farming communities. The downtown area was lively the morning I stopped by and found an interesting “farm store” downtown with some fare to sell. And a grain elevator anchors the downtown area as in most small, rural communities.  Summer is near and the possibility for more exploration in this land called “Siouxland”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Residents visit downtown in Coleridge, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A downtown farm store has some equipment and spare parts waiting in an alley next door to the store in Coleridge, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A store window of what may have been a former antique shop in Coleridge, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A grain truck heads out of the downtown area of Coleridge, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Siouxland’s History Tucked Away, Grand Meadow Heritage Center

2 May

When going to various Siouxland festivals and community celebrations, no matter how tenuous the term community might be, sometimes there is just too much to take in and share at one time. Part of the reason I like revisiting places I have been to previously. The Grand Meadow Heritage Center is one such place. Its old school is now a museum of sorts with a lot of material relating to previous centuries. Being located in the country, a lot of that history centers around agriculture.

Unique farming equipment can be seen in the basement of the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921 during the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A visitor walks through the basement of the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921that contains an assortment of historical farming equipment collected over the years seen at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But there is information about people who previously lived in the area and attended the school that still stands.

Visitors to the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival look through old newspaper clippings and school yearbooks in the former elementary and high school building that was built in 192, located near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A collection of historical farming photographs on display in the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921 at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As an older school building that probably housed grade school and the high school, it also contained a gymnasium and stage. Lots of space to store and display items that relate to what occurred in the past and a source of information for those of us today looking to understand a bit more about how people lived, worked and survived in an era that didn’t have many of the new technological advances that today’s world seems to offer. Well, maybe not technologically advanced to the modern way of thinking. But then it was probably ground breaking.

A rug loom possibly from the 19th century in the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921 seen at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of a rail road track and other historical items on display in the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921 at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People just lived a simpler life and made do with less stuff. And the few things they had were taken care of and passed on to the next generation. Until that tradition stopped.

A cradle, circa 1875, on display with other period items in the former elementary and high school building at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And early settlers would marvel at our need today to live in houses that are huge in comparison, when in most cases, a large room functioned in many ways.

Visitors look over a replica period log cabin and contents at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A room in the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921 is set up like a General Store that existed in many small communities in Iowa is see at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Heritage Center is a look into the area’s past, some displays set up for viewing what life was like then, and is educational a nice reminder, if we actually remember to take the time to look, listen and explore.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

From the former elementary and high school building built in 1921 and which houses lots of memorabilia, one can look out over the school grounds during the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Passion in Siouxland, Ashton

22 Apr

A couple of years ago or so  I ran across a gentleman in the small Siouxland community of Ashton who was pursuing his love and passion of collecting and restoring older farm tractors. Maybe passion is a strong word to use, but Lloyd Baker, who previously worked for a local tractor dealer for a number of years, had a number of tractors sitting around his garage in the small community waiting for some individual attention.

Lloyd Baker laughs a little as he talks about collecting and refurbishing tractors, especially John Deere tractors, almost his entire life, and keeps an ongoing changing collection in Ashton, Iowa, March 29, 2015. (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Lloyd Baker currently has a collection of 52 tractors he is planning on refurburshing sitting around his workplace in Ashton, Iowa, March 29, 2015. He works on different tractor models of different brands, but especially likes John Deere tractors. (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

He said he enjoys getting the older agricultural workhorses running again and doesn’t discriminate against make or model. I saw him recently participating in a tractor pull at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta. Pulling the sled with ease with his John Deere Tractor.

Lloyd Baker of Ashton, Iowa participates in a tractor pull for “antique” tractors at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always nice to meet people who enjoy a hobby and doesn’t mind spending time trying to get things right. Restoring older tractors can be a challenge to either find existing parts or making them yourself to get the machinery functioning again.

Part of Lloyd Baker’s collection of tractors he plans on refurbishing is an Economy, circa late 1930’s, made by Sears & Roebuck Co. that he acquired. Baker said the tractor was shipped to the buyer and then required assembly, seen at his work place in Ashton, Iowa, March 29, 2015. (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

And then to participate in friendly competitions with other collectors and restorers to see whose tractor performs best is just a throw back to those county fair competitions I remember as a child, hearing the grandstand roar as the favorite does well. With winter seemingly finally coming to an end with a recent late snow storm, I hope to drive some more back roads and find other people pursuing their passion or maybe just enjoying their “retirement” in a way that makes them happy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Stopping by in Siouxland, Modale

20 Apr

Another small community in the southern portion of Siouxland is Modale. With a little over 270 people it is a quiet town. Like so many the main employer seen is apparently a grain elevator.

A grain elevator in Modale, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But like so many other small communities, it seems Modale’s initial promise began in the 1870’s when the railroad passed through it on its journey west and was settled by pioneers emigrating west from the East. It is surrounded by a farming community and has a small downtown area which still thrives.

Downtown Modale, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A local church with a slightly used bell tower in Modale, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The local U.S. Post Office appears to have been connected to another building or business before removal in Modale, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am always happy to see life in smaller communities. As time marches forward the continual shift of young people to larger metropolitan areas is always going to happen.

A former school in Modale, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the place for small communities is just as important. Some people just enjoy the peace and solitude that smaller communities give, and city folk are generally not inclined to enjoy the farming accoutrements that help them thrive.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A semi hauling hay bales through Modale, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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