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Exploring the Past in Siouxland, Mead Cultural Education Center, Yankton, SD

21 May

The Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring history in Siouxland can be a fun exercise and the chance to learn about the region and see something I have not encountered previously. Recently I visited the Mead Cultural Education Center with some photography students from a Lifelong Learning class. It’s a grand old building and previously as an asylum for women who were considered insane and whose families did not want them living at home.

A grand marble staircase greets visitors as they enter the Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, which now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Mead Cultural Education Center was a former women’s mental institution and will now house the Dakota Territorial Museum and other historical artifacts after a renovation under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Yankton County Historical Society is housed in the facility and plans over a period of time will include a number of historical exhibits about the area including the Dakota Territorial Museum that was located in another area of Yankton.

Currently an exhibit of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is up and running with a fairly extensive look at that group’s trip through the local area.

The Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, showcases the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, showcases the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in a unique way and also houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Some displays with area history is set up on the ground floor of he Mead Cultural Education Center, a former women’s mental institution and will house the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Some displays with area history is set up on the ground floor of he Mead Cultural Education Center, a former women’s mental institution and will house the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But while the class was there the group got a look in yet unfinished areas where future exhibits will be showcased and other offices housing various local organizations will be located as well as seeing some stored historical items waiting for space to be displayed.

Camille Swift, office manager for the Mead Cultural Education Center, gets animated as she gives some background during a short tour. The center also now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Camille Swift, office manager for the Mead Cultural Education Center, standing in background, gives a historical account and describes the restoration of the building during a short tour. The center also houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Camille Swift, office manager for the Mead Cultural Education Center, not seen, gives background context and describes the current restoration project underway during a short tour. The center also houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Records and other historical artifacts are stored in rooms as the Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women undergoes a restoration under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Once completed the Education Center will give a nice look into the history of the area and Yankton’s role in the history of the Dakota Territories. Yankton was the first territorial government seat when the Territories were settled but then later lost out to Pierre. It will be easy to spend a few hours learning about the past and in a space that has found new purpose for the future.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

 

History in Siouxland not Always Evident, Yankton, SD

15 May

A former dairy barn near the Mead Cultural Education Center that will house the Dakota Territorial Museum and other historical artifacts of the area under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early psychiatric institutions in many states operated farms and dairy operations to feed its “patients” and to generate money to cover the cost of running a facility for those who needed help or were beyond the ability of families to cope. The Yankton (SD) State Hospital in Siouxland began operating in 1880. Although I couldn’t find any online information there is what appears to be a dairy or livestock barn on the grounds that is no longer in use. I learned from other places I have lived that it was common practice for these farms to operate with help from the patients. This barn looks to be relatively in good condition and I wonder what stories could be learned of its past.

an inside look of a former dairy barn near the Mead Cultural Education Center that will house the Dakota Territorial Museum and other historical artifacts of the area under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In today’s society these kinds of operations are no longer needed, although it gave those patients who worked a sort of pride in helping be productive for the “community” in which they lived. Somewhere though I have read where other businesses found these institutions to be unfair competitors impinging on their own market share and were not really concerned that work was beneficial for patients confined there. So much history and sometimes so little information.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A self-portrait at a former dairy barn near the Mead Cultural Education Center that will house the Dakota Territorial Museum and other historical artifacts of the area under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Winter and Spring Effects in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

13 May

The Vermillion River seen along the bike path near Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Vermillion River near Cotton park flooded earlier this spring as seen from debris left in trees along the bank. This river and other waterways flooded when a still frozen snow-covered ground couldn’t absorb rain that fell in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On an outing in Vermillion, SD with a Lifelong Learning class in photography that I teach we ventured along the Vermillion River that runs below Vermillion, SD. It’s like a lot of other rivers and normally provides a nice walk on a bike path near a park in the community. I have visited this walking a path a few times and I was struck by some fundamental changes, like sand being scooped off the walkways so people could pass through. This I guess occurred when the river ran high with rains and the ground still frozen from winter last spring. In only a couple of days or more sand was swept from the riverbed and deposited outside of the banks. But it will take more time to return the sand that accumulated.

Photo Safari students from Western Iowa Tech walk along the bike path near Cotton Park that was cleared of sand from a flooding Vermillion River seen in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Erosion of the bank of the Vermillion River along the bike path near Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One can also see new erosion from the rushing river water and how eventually it will affect paths that run alongside it and provide enjoyment and a respite for locals. Nature can be beautifully destructive at times. I was also amazed at how high some river detritus I saw along the path as the water spread out of its banks and ran high.

 

A wooden bridge gives a good vantage point at Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And that’s what I like about visiting and revisiting local areas because they change. Sometimes changes that we as people don’t find beneficial but for me it’s the exploring and looking and just being outside finally with warmer temperatures even though nature sometimes reminds us that we are just along for the ride.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying the Light in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

9 May

This particular spring seems to just be an extension of winter in Siouxland. Grey skies, blustery, rain, which is better than snow and easier to scoop. Only intermittently does it seem that the suns peeks through the clouds, and some days I just want to photograph in sunshine.

Light and shadow on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It makes it much easier to record light and shade moments and to see more definition. Sunshine also helps make photos seem punchier, although for some subjects, cloudy skies are much better to photograph under because soft light renders those subjects in a more appealing manner. I just have to remind myself when summer is in full swing that I enjoy photographing light and shade and not wistfully wish for a cloudy, overcast day for photographing some subjects.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Cloud cover on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Sunshine hitting the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Subjects in Siouxland, Beresford, SD

29 Apr

Shapes and color during an outing of the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

When teaching the Lifelong Learning photography classes I have at a local community college in Siouxland I encourage those attending to look and see and photograph what captures their interest and imagination. Everyone sees differently and that is a good thing. But I also encourage people to look at and photograph objects or places and scenes that may not always appeal to them, simply because they may surprise themselves.

During a recent class outing visiting Beresford, SD, the class and I walked about the small community’s downtown area. It had its classic early 19th century buildings and other interesting architecture. But after circling the area a couple of times and having previously visited it last fall, I came upon a wall this time that struck me because of the color involved and its relative starkness. On my first visit it was just an alley. But after the winter and before spring has begun in earnest its renewal, the starkness and color along with the benches created a scene I don’t remember seeing. Many times one just needs patience and a willingness to look at scenes a second time. And it could be a pleasant surprise.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seasonal Changes in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve

14 Dec

Wishing patrons of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve a pleasant holiday season in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seasonal changes in Siouxland always brings the expectations of coming holidays and a change in weather. The last waning days of fall like weather makes me a bit wistful of the impending cold that is sure to envelope the area. But along with that comes holiday lights, Christmas music and tons and tons of holiday confection. But I think I will most miss the fall light.

The waning days of fall at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The last vestiges of fall laying on the ground at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not so direct with a clear quality to it that can make subjects pop and imbue them with a special quality. Early morning and late afternoon in the fall are not so early or so late. A plus in my book when out photographing places. With the cold setting in I have to push myself to set my bare feet onto a wood floor in the morning before finding socks to help them a little warmer. And then to get dressed and go and out photograph when the temps can hover in the teens or single digits make me make a little bigger pot of coffee before venturing out.

The last of the leaves clinging to their branches at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The last remaining leaves at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Now I will find bare trees and the leaf covered forest floors are snow covered, with can be fun, especially when critter tracks are seen. But it won’t be until sometime in late March when I am hopeful temperatures return to a more modest clime and give me a better impetus to stick my nose out the door and once again explore Siouxland and see what new wonders I might find.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The last remaining days of fall at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring History in Siouxland, Old Courthouse Museum, Sioux Falls

20 Nov

The Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD Monday, Oct. 22 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Old Courthouse Museum with clock tower in Sioux Falls, SD Monday, Oct. 22 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is an old saying that one never truly knows where he/she is going if you don’t know where you’ve been. Or something to that effect. Which is why for me when traveling about Siouxland and areas nearby I enjoy finding museums and other places that contain nuggets of history about the region. One such place is the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls. It contains a surprisingly large number of exhibits and gives a bit of history as its function as a former courthouse.

Historical displays are set up throughout the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD Monday, Oct. 22 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historical displays are set up throughout the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD Monday, Oct. 22 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A movie projector from the early days is set up on display in the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD Monday, Oct. 22 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Current displays contain information about the first World War that recently was celebrated in France, commemorating the 100th year of Armistice Day when a peace treaty was signed, and people had hoped it was the war to end all wars. But that didn’t exactly go as planned. Human nature being a funny sort of barometer in gauging how people will behave.

A current display shows the bunker set ups used during WWI in the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD Monday, Oct. 22 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum though is a fine example of architecture and gives a visitor a nice sense of its place in the history of the territory doing the westward expansion of the country and before the Dakota Territory became two separate states. I enjoy spending the time to learn a bit more about the region and its place in history and look forward to finding other gems to explore down the road.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Informational displays help a visitor understand the function of the building in its former life as an acting courthouse at the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD Monday, Oct. 22 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historical displays are found throughout the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD Monday, Oct. 22 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A buffalo is ensconced near a scenic painting near the entrance of the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD Monday, Oct. 22 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Now an open space, this was a former courtroom seen in the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD Monday, Oct. 22 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A mural on a wall leading to a former balcony seating area for a court room in the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD Monday, Oct. 22 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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