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Finding Spring Colors in Siouxland, Alton

6 Apr
Spring color in downtown Alton, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ah Spring, a slow arrival here in Siouxland. Temperatures overnight still hover in the 30’s. And a brisk prairie wind makes it feel even chillier. So finding spring color in the area while the trees are still bare and the landscape brown, can be challenging.

Spring color in downtown Alton, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring color in downtown Alton, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The small community of Alton though has spruced up some of its buildings, “splashing” color onto walls to brighten the downtown area. It does make it a bit more cheerful on a blustery, albeit, sunny day. Like many others, I look forward to getting out and visiting places and enjoying balmy days in the 40’s and 50’s. Temperature in the 60’s would be nice, but I can be patient. Some color I did find was reminiscent of the passing winter, but sometimes one just move forward, and not dwell.

Maybe May flowers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An orange snow plow adds color to the downtown area of Alton, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring color in downtown Alton, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Story Continues in Siouxland, Heritage Village, Sioux Center

17 Mar
Larry TeGrotenhuis looks over contents of the Roelof’s Store at the new location of the Heritage Village now located at the Tower Fields in Sioux Center, Iowa, seen Friday, February 18, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As time continues to “march forward” changes sometimes take place and people and places adjust to those changes. In Siouxland, the Heritage Village in Sioux Center is undergoing such a change. The history infused village is a special place where people could come to learn about early life during settler days and other times. But expansion at a local university and the need for for an athletic sponsored facility necessitated that the village make way for progress. As has been documented numerous time throughout history, progress moves forward and at times history is just that, history.

Buildings of the Heritage Village are now located at the Tower Fields in Sioux Center, Iowa, seen Friday, February 18, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A spot for a barn of the Heritage Village still to be relocated to the new location of Tower Fields in Sioux Center, Iowa, seen Friday, February 18, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Heritage Village supporters Linda Prins, Erma TeGrotenhuis, Larry TeGrotenhuis and Stan Prins talk about the next steps in preparing the Heritage Village now located at the Tower Fields in Sioux Center, Iowa, seen Friday, February 18, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In early reported discussions available via media in became clear the village garners a lot of support and so a new place was found and costs covered to move the existing history place across town where the new home looks to provide more space and play a continued part in educating youngsters and other interested parties about the history of the prairie and early life there. Every fall a festival takes place where busloads of school children arrive and get some hands on history lessons as well seeing and hearing about life one to two centuries before they were even born. A long, long time ago, although still in this galaxy.

The Heritage Village is now located at the Tower Fields in Sioux Center, Iowa, seen Friday, February 18, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Heritage Village supporters Stand Prins, right, and Larry TeGrotenhuis go into the Roelof’s Store to talk about the next steps in getting work completed in the next few months at new location of the Heritage Village now located at the Tower Fields in Sioux Center, Iowa, seen Friday, February 18, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of trees from the previous location have been moved along with buildings and contents of the Heritage Village now located at the Tower Fields in Sioux Center, Iowa, seen Friday, February 18, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the Heritage Village board state they plan on having a fall festival with plans to move forward with getting the grounds completed and buildings secured on the new site. Not a quick or easy task. But the group is dedicated in seeing that with progress, history is not left behind in a forgotten memory or dusty pages of a book on a shelf.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

With some buildings already removed just remnants of the Heritage Village remain still to be moved at the former site. Heritage Village will be located to Tower Fields in Sioux Center, Iowa, seen Friday, February 18, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The sod pioneer house at the former Heritage Village is one of the few remaining buildings to relocate to Tower Fields in Sioux Center, Iowa, seen Friday, February 18, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With some buildings already removed just remnants of the Heritage Village remain still to be moved at the former site. Heritage Village will be located to Tower Fields in Sioux Center, Iowa, seen Friday, February 18, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The old jail cell awaits a spot at the new location of the Heritage Village now located at the Tower Fields in Sioux Center, Iowa, seen Friday, February 18, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With some buildings already removed just remnants of the Heritage Village remain still to be moved at the former site. Heritage Village will be located to Tower Fields in Sioux Center, Iowa, seen Friday, February 18, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A desolate site with some buildings already removed and just remnants of the Heritage Village remain for moving at the former site. Heritage Village will be located to Tower Fields in Sioux Center, Iowa, seen Friday, February 18, 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©)

Points of Interest in Small Towns around Siouxland, Luverne, MN

3 Mar
The Hinkly House sits on a street just outside of the downtown Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out exploring places in Siouxland and elsewhere sometimes there is not enough hours in the day. Or one visits on the wrong day. During an excursion north of Siouxland in Minnesota a museum and a former Carnegie Library caught my eye. The Hinkly House is a museum of local history, but only open a couple months out of the year and then only on Thursdays according to its website.

I’m always a sucker for history and the chance to learn a little more about a place. However this particular trip I was headed to a state park just outside of the community of Luverne, the Mounds State Park for a bit of a hike and as it turns out some views as some of the park in located on a hill. And with the drive and shorter fall days I didn’t take the time to research the area other than to just enjoy the drive and visit. Planning is always good, but spontaneity is also good at times.

The Hinkly House sits on a street just outside of the downtown Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Hinkly House sits on a street just outside of the downtown Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The former Carnegie Library located in Luverne now houses a music venue where lessons and performances are found, giving local folk a chance to learn and listen at the Luverne Street Music.

The Luverne Street Music is located in a former Carnegie library building in Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Beyond what I read on the organization’s website not much other information was found while visiting, but it was nice to see the building continuing service, as so many former Carnegie Library Buildings do in the small communities where they were built. Still serving the public in some form or another and most times through some kind of educational function or manner.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Viewing History in Siouxland from a Hilltop, Council Bluffs

10 Jan
A view of Omaha, NE across the Missouri River from the Lincoln Monument in Council Bluffs, IA Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding bits and pieces of history tucked into corners and hilltops, one never knows where something of note might turn up in Siouxland. During Abraham Lincoln’s early days of politics he visited the Council Bluff’s area. From a view atop a hill he saw the expansion of the westward movement of folk and what would become a “staging ground” for the Union Pacific Railroad. The people of Council Bluffs dedicated this small park not far from the cemetery where General Grenville M. Dodge’s wife is buried. Dodge was a general in Lincoln’s army during the Civil War.

The Lincoln Monument in Council Bluffs, IA commemorates the time Abraham Lincoln visited the area in 1859 when it was more rural to view where the Union Pacific Railroad’s eastern terminal would be located seenThursday, Nov. 4, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Lincoln Monument in Council Bluffs, IA commemorates the time Abraham Lincoln visited the area in 1859 when it was more rural to view where the Union Pacific Railroad’s eastern terminal would be located seenThursday, Nov. 4, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A major street is seen below the Lincoln Monument in Council Bluffs, IA Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Lincoln Monument is from where the later president saw an area chosen as the first eastern terminus for the yet to be built transcontinental railroad system. Doing even a cursory search online doesn’t really turn up more information other than Lincoln “slept here” kind of reference like George Washington. But it is an easily accessible area and a great place to take in views of the surrounding landscape and in the distance Omaha, NE, across the Missouri River.

Morning might be a better time with better weather and less haze that seems to settle in once the afternoon arrives. A small snippet of history, tucked away but with a nice view.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Turning leaves on trees seen below the Lincoln Monument in Council Bluffs, IA Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A view from the hilltop wherefrom where Abraham Lincoln surveyed the surrounding area in 1859, seen Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting Blue Mounds State Park outside of Siouxland, Luverne, MN

13 Dec
Taking a stroll on one of the trails at Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like taking road trips to places I have not yet visited, even when the destination lands me outside of the Siouxland region. There is so much to see, and photograph, no matter where one travels.

Earlier this year I made a trip to the Blue Mounds State Park in southern Minnesota. Not a long drive and a very pleasant place to visit with enough trails and interesting rock formations because of the granite found within the park. I didn’t ask but assumed the granite was quarried in earlier centuries to use in construction of local buildings, but which is now part of and within the state park.

Granite used to be quarried for surrounding regional buildings in earlier days seen at Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Granite outcroppings are found throughout the Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The park is surrounded primarily by farmland, and is home to remnants of original Minnesota prairie. There is also a heard of bison that live within the park’s boundaries but evidently are shy when it comes to visitors.

Farmland surrounds Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farmland surrounds is seen from a hilltop at the Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bison graze on land of the Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I tried to time my visit for fall colors at the park, but that type of venture anywhere is always hit and miss. There hadn’t really been much of a cold snap even though there had been some brisk, cold nights. But the park has the makings of some nice foliage if it ever cooperates and one gets lucky to visit on such a day. Walking the trails was just a nice way to spend part of a day and when at some of the higher points in the park, nice vistas. There is also a visitor’s center, but it was closed for the season. Another reason to go back sometime between Memorial Day and Labor Day when there might be more park activity. Time will tell.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Signage for hiking trails at the Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Frederick Manfred was an early proponent for the Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visitors center at the Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Groves of trees and prairie grass and granite is seen throughout the Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farmland surrounding the Blue Mounds State Park is seen from atop a hill within the park, situated near Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farmland surrounds is seen from a hilltop at the Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like the Holidays in Siouxland, Sioux City

7 Dec
Two parade attendees show off their “lighted” necklaces at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The “holiday spirit” has begun in the Siouxland region. A number of communities like Sioux City have begun with their lighted parades and other festivities now that Thanksgiving is past and Christmas is only a couple, three weeks away.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A parade princess waves to the crowd at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

At night the Christmas lights and decorations light up neighborhoods, a cheery reminder to people about the approaching Christmas holiday, when hopefully more people take to heart the meaning of Christmas and put aside their vitriolic beliefs and really consider loving their neighbor. But I suppose that is a large Christmas ask as political parties and failed politicians continue to push their agendas.

But the chance for a momentary set aside to again think like a child and enjoy the magic of Christmas might give some folk pause to enjoy the present and wish their fellow citizens a Merry Christmas.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The city Christmas tree and other decorations lit on the grounds of the Sioux City Public Museum during the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A local union participates in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Flag marches with a drum corp at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A drum line keeps the beat during the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children yell for more candy to be tossed during the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 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©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Uehling, NE

25 Nov
Crossroads in downtown Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This past spring and summer I took some time to visit a few small communities in Siouxland that I had not stopped in before to just check them out and see what was there. My trips generally take place during the week and never seem to coincide with any events, which generally happen on weekends or evenings. Uehling, NE was one of the places I came across on a day trip. Like so many others its population is a little over 200 people but has some nice buildings maintained with a few flourishes about town for its appearance.

A wall mount dedicated to the anniversary of the community’s founding on a downtown store in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mural heading into empty space seen in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Founded in the early 1900’s it was also a short-lived railroad destination as train tracks headed west expanding the reach of a young nation. And like so many of those smaller communities it seemed to prosper early on then settled in as the train route continued west and larger communities were founded in other places that also because seats of local county and state government.

But even in passing it’s fun to see a small community still holding its own over 100 years later. A place people call home and visitors can only wonder about its part in creating history as they pass through.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A visitor might assume the community was named after Theodore Uehling seen in in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A country road heads off into the distance leaving Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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