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Celebrating History in Siouxland, Old County Courthouse, Sioux Falls, SD

19 Apr
Background history of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

No matter where I might travel in Siouxland, history is always a draw for me, and learning a little bit more about a place or the people. Such was the case again in Sioux Falls at the Old County Courthouse Museum where a display of the history of the municipal band was on display.

A photograph of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
“Uniforms” of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I admit I have never heard this particular band play, even in its current iteration. Many times over the years various “organizations” and groups change. It’s only natural. But I can imagine hearing them play during a summer evening, music wafting out from a bandstand and people relaxed and enjoying a musical treat. It happens every summer in Sioux City when a local group performs 8 Sundays over the summer in a local park.

It is a very nice way to spend an evening, somewhat harkening back to remembrances of a certain era that evokes the play “Our Town“by Thorton Wilder about an imaginary place of innocence during an early Americana period.

Historical displays like this remind people of a snapshot in time about a place and the people. In this case hopefully happy memories to those familiar with the municipal band and a time when their only concern was hearing the music.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A photograph of concert, possibly summer, of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A portrait of an earlier Sioux Falls Municipal Band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Some instruments used for the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning History in Siouxland, Queen Bee Mill, Sioux Falls, SD

20 Mar
The history of the Queen Bee Mill, located in Falls Park, is on display in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a visit to the Old County Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD there was a small exhibit telling about early Sioux Falls history involving various businesses. One of those businesses involved a flour mill at a small waterfall area now known as Falls Park. The mill provided jobs and a necessary industry for food processing which everyone needed as grocery stores or general stores didn’t always stock such “packaged” items. The Queen Bee Mill stood alongside the falls, construction began in 1879 and was completed in 1881.

A flour mill used to stand where the ruins are seen in the background at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The former turbine house for the Queen Bee Flour Mill at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A plaque commemorating the Queen Bee Flour Mill on its former site, now the Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The mill operated until 1883 when owners found the water power wasn’t sufficient enough to power the mill and enable it to reach capacity. Its operation began again in 1911 and ran intermittently until 1929. From that time it served as a warehouse until a fire in 1956 destroyed most of the mill and surrounding structures.

The history of the Queen Bee Mill, located in Falls Park, is on display in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The history of the Queen Bee Mill, located in Falls Park, is on display in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The area is now popular as a park which people visit it and see the falls of the Big Sioux River throughout various seasons, often a destination for people shooting portraits.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Big Sioux River runs fast over the rocks at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A 21st century “Ansel Adams” creates images at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Day in Siouxland, Adams Homestead, North Sioux City, SD

24 Feb
A cross country skier get some exercise on a brisk day at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, February 3, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some winter days in Siouxland people just want to get out, especially on those days when the sun is shining and the temps are above zero. The last few days with temperatures reaching -40 overnight with windchill, the thought of leaving a warm house gives one chills before even feeling that cold gust on the face when the front door opens.

Some local gees wing their way to another destination flying over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, February 3, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even the local animal population wants to get around a bit, maybe finding another feeding spot while trying to survive this particular winter. At Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve the place has nicely groomed trails year round, even in winter that hikers, skiers and snow shoe walkers enjoy. And sometimes just getting out to feel some fresh air without the thought of frostbite setting in within minutes can be motivational itself.

Even the heartiest of creatures learn to conserve their energy during these cold days and extremes in weather, all hoping for spring to arrive, sooner than later.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two bison in a feedlot situated next to the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, February 3, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History of Women’s Suffrage in South Dakota, Old Courthouse Museum, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

22 Feb
A history lesson about prohibition and keeping South Dakota dry in the early 20th century seems a repeat of the now push to keep the use of marijuana in any form including medicinal out of the state, seen in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of historical events are currently on display at the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. One of the displays talks about women’s suffrage and the fight to obtain the vote, something that continues today although it’s just not women that some individuals in power seem bent on restraining others attempt to be involved in the political process.

A history lesson about women’s suffrage and their right to vote seen in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems obvious that the more people involved in a democratic process the better the society. But I guess some folk are fearful of their opinions and beliefs being “watered down” by opinions and beliefs that do not coincide with their own. So in some ways the more folk talk about a sacred process of democracy the less sacred it becomes because of paternalistic factors and beliefs that others are not as well equipped to make informed decisions. Education would seem an obvious answer, but then, who decides what that educational information should include for informing a populace?

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Women’s suffrage seemed to occur along with keeping South Dakota dry in the early 20th century, seen in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking Through History in Siouxland, Old Courthouse Museum, Sioux Falls, SD

8 Feb
A former county courthouse, the Old Courthouse Museum is located in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting and revisiting places of history is always time well spent in my book. Former places that have become museums and other places of historical record are abundant in Siouxland and enjoyable as well as educational.

A witness box in the former courtroom in what is now the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD is one such place. And like most museums the exhibits change over time with various bits of history added to its repertoire for local residents and guests to explore. And it takes a little time to explore and read and absorb the information being shared. And on a cold winter’s day, spending a little time indoors is not a bad thing.

A small courtyard with seating is a pleasant outdoor area during nicer weather seen from inside the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Built in the late 1890’s it was said to be the largest courthouse between Chicago and Denver. Of course architects and builders always want to promote their work. The building seems to have stood time well with many features still found from when footsteps first tread its floors.

A grand stairwell leads to the second floor where a courtroom awaited interested parties in the former county courthouse, the Old Courthouse Museum is located in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I often wonder about those earlier occupants who lived and worked in an area. What their lives may have been like and what their day to day circumstances included, good and bad. Joys and heartbreak is not a new concept to any particular generation, no matter when they lived.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former courtroom in what is now the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The story of an innocent man convicted and sentenced to death for a crime not committed seen on a plaque outside the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The story of an innocent man convicted and sentenced to death for a crime not committed seen on a plaque outside the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Winter’s Day in Siouxland, Falls Park, Sioux Falls, SD

6 Feb
Ice forms along the falls and the Big Sioux river in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I’ve been to Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD a few times, but never during the winter months. It was interesting seeing parts of the falls frozen and other parts with “running water”. To my limited knowledge, I don’t know of many actual water falls in the Siouxland area, although there could be many that long time residents know about. This one is easily accessible since it’s located in a park and there are viewing areas for people to enjoy the falls during the different seasons.

A couple takes a selfie from a viewing area as the Big Sioux River runs and ice forms along the falls in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An individual takes a selfie with the falls in the background with the falls and the Big Sioux river in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For a chilly, well cold, winter’s day, a number of people were enjoying the park, checking out the ice formations and the water running as well as walking the cleared pathways. It’s a nice park to visit, no matter the time of year. There were even Christmas/holiday lights still up in the park and maybe some year it would be pretty to photograph them. But that would be a long day with a long drive at night, something I get lazier about as I get older.

A person walks a pathway in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
People check out the Big Sioux River and the falls in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Ice forms along the falls and the Big Sioux river in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But even on cold days, made seemingly even colder by seeing the ice forming on a running river, it’s nice to get out and breath some fresh air. This day there were people, but not overly abundant as might be expecting other times of the year, especially in warmer weather. Always a nice destination spot, and a photographic challenge on a rather dull, dreary day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Ice forms along the falls and the Big Sioux river in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Ice forms along the falls and the Big Sioux river in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter’s season in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

4 Feb
A winter’s sunset at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes the winter season in Siouxland can seem to last forever, or just feel that way like a lot of upper midwestern states. Dull, grey skies, chilly or downright cold temperatures just gives one the interminable “stay indoors fever”. But then some days there is a respite and a chance to enjoy a little break.

Winter season at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A little color in the sky, even at sunset, makes one hopeful the next day will be “nicer”, with another 30 plus days to go. It’ still January, February hasn’t even knocked at the door yet and already I am thinking about spring. Patience, the virtue. One can only hope.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Winter season at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Winter season at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Lighting up the Holidays in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

18 Dec
A lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a chilly evening when I would prefer to be at home having coffee in a warm house, the lure and allure of seeing Christmas lights in Siouxland is always a strong pull for me to get outside, bundle up and enjoy.

This year because of the coronavirus pandemic the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve put up Christmas lights on walking paths instead of hosting its annual event where historical buildings on the property are opened up and children can visit Santa in its welcome center. And I always try my hand at capturing the lights. But sometimes it’s also fun to play with the light and just see shapes and designs.

Christmas lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday evening, Dec. 10, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday evening, Dec. 10, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I tried making a couple of exposures, one focused and the other slightly out handholding and guesstimating as best as I could my camera position. Basically making one exposure then racking the focus and making the second exposure. While maybe not totally successful, it was fun to see the results. Which I achieved through post processing by layering the two images and then blending them. Nothing ventured…..

Christmas lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday evening, Dec. 10, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday evening, Dec. 10, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I will be going out again to Adams Homestead to “hang out” with some fellow camera club photographers and will look to see what else I might find to experiment with and what kind of twist I can make on photographing these lights. One constant is that I go out 30-40 minutes earlier than my last trip as the sun keeps setting earlier which in my mind makes it easier to “brave the cold” while still enjoying the Christmas holiday.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday evening, Dec. 10, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Holly, Jolly Christmas in Siouxland, Adams Homestead, North Sioux City, SD

6 Dec
A snowman greets visitors checking out the lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The sun has already set as a lighted Christmas display comes on at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas celebrations in Siouxland as elsewhere takes on a different atmosphere this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Normally the Homestead would open its buildings up and upwards of a few thousand folk would pass through to visit and see Santa in the welcome center.

But Ranger Jody Moats this year decided it might be too risky for some folk and so with the help of volunteers strung a lot lights around the grounds allowing people to visit, outdoors and enjoy a Christmas light show.

Park Ranger Jody Moats poses by an angel as she becomes turning on Christmas light displays at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Well, Ranger Moats and the volunteers put up a lot of lights and it makes for a festive walk through which will change once a little snow settles onto the ground casting back some reflective white surfaces for the lights to shine above. The walk will be a destination for people wanting to enjoy the Christmas spirit and a chance to forget about current affairs as they cautiously enjoy the lighted scenes at Adams Homestead.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


The schoolhouse is lit for a Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display will greet visitors to the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some Holiday Cheer in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

26 Nov
Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As holiday events adjust because of the coronavirus pandemic many local places in Siouxland are working to still give local residents a chance to get out and enjoy some holiday cheer, if it’s just a little different than previous years. The Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve isn’t opening up its buildings this year for people to view history but instead has decorated the homestead area with lights and Christmas decorations to give folk a magical respite and a reason to get outside.

Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Homestead will be lit every weekend in December from 5-9 pm every Thursday-Sunday evenings. The logistics of which appear a bit daunting since the area is more a historical look back at history of the area than a haven for modern tech. But led lights and solar devices make some decorations more possible these days than not when needed power outlets are not always available.

Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So for the month of December area residents will at least have an opportunity to walk beneath the “lighted stars” at the Homestead if not a chance to visit with Santa in the welcome center this year because of crowding and mixing people from various walks in life.

A new reality for the present, but still some Christmas cheer and maybe an opportunity to reflect and remember what Christmas is really about.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas decorations adorn the area inside the welcome center at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas decorations adorn the area inside the welcome center at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas decorations adorn the fireplace inside the welcome center at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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