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Seeing History in Ruins in Siouxland, Tekamah, NE

3 Dec
An old railroad passenger car far beyond beyond its expiration date is seen in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I travel about Siouxland my imagination sometimes wanders and I wonder what life was life before my time in the area. On an outing with another photographer we happened upon an old passenger train rail car in Tekamah, NE. The rail car has seen better days and I wonder what rail line it covered and when and where did it transport people in an earlier era. Speculation as to its current location made us think that maybe someone had found the rail car, moved it to this location for possible later use say for a museum or some such thing. But time has taken its toll and now only the rail car knows what its former glory days were like and who traveled the rails in it possibly searching for a new beginning or visiting a past one. All I can speculate is that its history is now firmly in the past.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An old railroad passenger car far beyond beyond its expiration date is seen in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s All in the Technique in Siouxland, rural Thurston County, Winnebago, NE

27 Nov

A Great Blue Heron takes off from a pond in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out driving around in Siouxland I will at times come across wildlife and then feel fortunate that I could take some photos of them “au natural”. Just watching them and seeing how they behave and go about their daily lives always leaves me feeling amazed. Most of the birds I have photographed show such amazing grace, although it may not be true, it appears that way. Personally I am not “fleet of foot” or graceful, and so it’s a joy to watch and wonder and be amazed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Great Blue Heron lands on a partially submerged tree branch in a pond in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Great Blue Heron perches on a tree branch in a pond near Winnebago, NE Monday, August 29, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a “Rust”ic adventure in Siouxland, Tekamah, NE

17 Nov

Rusted roofs of sheds near a grain elevator in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes simple is best. During a recent outing in Siouxland and driving a backroad on a return trip from Omaha, NE, I came across some buildings that had seen better days while on a photo safari with a fellow photographer. Sometimes when I see something, one aspect of a possible image just “speaks to me” and I then must work hard to slow down and photograph other possibilities. The other photographer had spotted a grain elevator off the beaten path as we drove through Tekamah and so ventured up toward that area. I was fascinated by another building at first and made number of images of it and some other objects but then drifted back to a couple of sheds. In humans, the “stains” and aged marks would give a person a worn, weathered look, maybe good or bad, depending on one’s point of view. But the buildings made me thing of similar places I had seen as a child growing up on a farm in a smaller community. Maybe not having that distinguished look of a stone structure in a big city of a courthouse or library, but the two sheds were humble in their appearance and the work they seen taken place under their eaves.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A detail image of a grain elevator in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Red in Siouxland, Tekamah, NE

28 Oct

A doorway with red markings on a an older brick building fallen into disrepair in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are some days while driving about Siouxland that something catches one’s eye. Traveling with a friend recently we passed through the small town Tekamah, NE and an old grain elevator caught his eye. And while walking about I saw an old brick building, and a doorway, or what was left of each. What the red markings might mean to someone is anybody’s guess. Maybe even the one who made them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Pockets of Color in Siouxland, Rural Thurston County, Winnebago, NE

16 Oct

Some plants haver begun their fall ritual of changing color seen in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some local areas in Siouxland have begun exhibiting a change of season as fall slowly makes its way into the area. Recently temperatures have been in the 60’s with forecasts of temps hitting the 80’s for a couple of days. And then with low overnight lows the leave change will accelerate ushering that fall look.

Leaves begin to slowly change in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Yellow leaves on a dirt in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I immensely enjoy the fall season as many folk do. And will do my best in getting out photographing scenes in rural Siouxland much to the chagrin of many friends and probably readers of this blog. But, therein lies the joy of not having an editor look over one’s shoulder.

Many backroads, many early mornings to catch those rays of sun diagonally lighting up the landscape. And maybe some daytime runs with full sun lighting treetops from above. On a beautiful fall day, with a little jazz playing and some coffee on tap, what a better way to spend it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Trees barely begin changing in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A corn field ready for harvest in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sumac leaves change colors in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Morning’s Drive in Siouxland, rural Thurston County, Nebraska

16 Sep

Two bison soak in some morning sun near Winnebago, NE Monday, August 29, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some mornings when I wake up early, which seems to be most days, I feel I need to get out and do a little exploring or at least driving around the Siouxland area. Because the vast majority of the region is rural and farmland or open acreage, there are choices available to explore, which makes it all the better and the opportunity to actually get lucky and find some wildlife.

A deer peers out from tall grass near Winnebago, NE Monday, August 29, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A doe and its young eat grass in a yard at a home in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The light that time of day is also much nicer, a little more direct and slanting and will become more so as the season gets into fall. It also means not having to get up as early to beat the sunrise in getting out as the days start a little later.

Morning light in a pond in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Steam rises off a pond in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it’s always pleasant to drive about country roads with the windows down in the cool morning air knowing the heat of the day won’t be scorching and force one to run the AC the entire time. Of course, if there is other traffic on the road one needs to be conscious of the ensuing dust storm as some like to fly down those gravel roads. But that’s another story.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer on a hill top watches a visitor on a country road in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bison graze in a field near Winnebago, NE Monday, August 29, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

“Winter Dressing” in SIouxland and Rural Nebraska, Winnebago, NE

12 Apr
Hoarfrost decorates a small wooded area in the countryside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mother Nature decorated Siouxland and rural Nebraska recently with remnants of this year’s winter’s season, as some low lying fog areas created that winter wonderland look with hoarfrost decorating the surrounding countryside. This kind of frost never seems to last long. That short shelf life between freezing and sunshine allows the ethereal effect to disappear quickly. Letting one wonder if it was a dream or actually real. Something William Shakespeare make have written about in one of his plays that also took place in the countryside.

Hoarfrost decorates a hillside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese take off from a pond surrounded by hoarfrost decorating the countryside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hoarfrost decorates a grass stem seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it challenging in photographing in this type of environment. One needs enough contrast to bring out the delicate details of the frost, especially if one is attempting macro photography. Blue skies are ideal because of the contrast, but that means the frost will be disappearing soon as the temperatures begin to rise and the sunshine helps the frost “disappear”.

Hoarfrost decorates a roadside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hoarfrost decorates a fence line in the countryside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I drove to this area to look about I that particular day I drove through some dense fog. But the temperature there was not cool enough to create the frost I found in rural Nebraska. And just miles apart. Sometimes one gets lucky and gets to witness Mother Nature in action. The hoarfrost being a kind of benign action as opposed to seeing storms and the destruction sometimes wrought after those have ended. This day though, I just wished I had brought a thermos of coffee with me as the sun rose higher in the sky and the landscape changed before the viewer’s eyes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Hoarfrost decorates a field seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A frosty sight along Omaha Creek outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Early Morning Light in Siouxland, rural Nebraska, Winnebago, NE

17 Dec
A song sparrow sits in a bush eyeing a visitor to a meadow on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Deep shadows are formed as the sun streaks across a yet to be harvested field on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So I will wait another year here in Siouxland before enjoying the early morning jaunts looking for light traipsing through the rural landscape in and around Siouxland. Yes, there will be early morning light this winter, but it will be colder, and maybe less inviting without the warm fall colors adding to the scene. White is just that, white. Although there entails a challenge of maybe using trees and other object as a graphic element to create an image.

Sunlight lights up drying meadow grass on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wood ducks sit on a log in a pond on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sunlight lights up a yet to be harvested field and grain bins on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With early light this time of year most critters don’t seem to rouse to forage until the light is up along with warming up the temperature. I don’t blame them. Personally, staying under the covers in bed is a preferred winter’s morning destination for me, but that doesn’t actually accomplish the objective of photographing nature. Such a conundrum. But I will be patient and see what opportunities await this winter and see how much walking through the “tundra” I will do depending on that day’s temperature and the wind. Maybe I just need to bring a thermos of coffee along for those mornings out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Bison graze in a field on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Deep shadows are formed in yet to be harvested fields on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 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©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Wayne, NE

1 Dec
While known for the Wayne Chicken Show, this sculpted art piece is not connected to that venture, seen downtown in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when it’s doable, I just like to get in my vehicle and drive about Siouxland. Earlier this year I made a short day trip into Nebraska and stopped at a few small towns along the way. One of these places was Wayne, NE. It has a population a little over 5,500 via some 2019 online information.

Downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Agriculture still plays an important part in small communities like Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many times when I come upon a place it is without research as I am mostly looking for photographic opportunities plus just seeing what is in the Siouxland region. And many times I find that I will venture back in the future to explore something specific about a particular community just as a historical museum or former residence and maybe even utilize a trip to it for a class I teach through a local community college. And it’s just fun to see what is there, knowing well in advance that my day trip will probably not coincide with any festival or event that might take place in a community as I arrive mid-week, an unlikely time period for places to host community celebrations of any kind.

Buildings dating to another century in downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Art decorating a building and the downtown sidewalk in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is though a particular summer time event I have never attended in Wayne and want to at some point which is the Chicken Show. It began in the early 1980’s as part of a push by the local arts community to draw attention to itself and the community as a whole. Online information says chickens as a theme was utilized for the possible endless kinds of humor that might evolve, the rural location of Wayne, and the fact that there might also be endless art opportunities involving the chicken.

And from what I hear the show continues today in as strong a fashion as ever to delight of those residents of that community.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former railroad depot now a pizza joint in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Main street in downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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