Tag Archives: iowa

Exploring Small Towns in Siouxland, Ashton

13 Aug

Downtown on a main street running through Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like nothing better than exploring the small towns that dot the landscape in Siouxland, a topic I have touched on many times. Some of these are still thriving while others not so much. The glory days behind them as they shift into another embrace of themselves as time passes.

The small community of Ashton recently had its summer fair which I will follow up with a post about that. Another community whose downtown is anchored by a grain elevator, once of the dominant businesses seen as you drive into the downtown area. And the agricultural touch is seen with a wagon parked off the street downtown as well.

A grain wagon parked just off a downtown street in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting into the place a little early, people were already selecting their spots along a parade route to watch friends and family participant and to enjoy a nice summer’s day celebrating the community.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Chairs mark a family’s spot prior to a parade for the community’s Town and Country fair in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Some hidden treasures await a lucky person who visits Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Tulips and Ancestry in Siouxland, Orange City’s Tulip Festival

1 Jun

I always my visits to the Tulip Festival in Siouxland located in Orange City each year. It’s a nice family event that also has families involved from the community as they work together to welcome visitors and share their love of their Dutch ancestry.

Participants wear a wide variety of costuming representing different areas and cultures of the Netherlands during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Cellphones are out recording their favorite dancers during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Before the street cleaning which takes place and a parade of regional dress specific to the Netherlands, a group of singers, The Fiesten Zangers or bicycle singers ride up and down the main downtown street stopping to share a few songs in Dutch and welcoming those attending the festival.

Some of the Fietsen Zangers, or bicycle singers, “rides” are deocrated as they perform a capella for visitors during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Fietsen Zangers, or bicycle singers, wait to perform a capella for visitors during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s a nice way to spend the day, especially if the weather is nice enjoying a community celebration and food and the spirit of a small town.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Young boys “empty” their buckets during the Street Scrubbing at the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Parade participants stroll the streets in costume until the start of the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors recrod and photograph the Fietsen Zangers, or bicycle singers, who perform a capella for visitors during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Fietsen Zangers, or bicycle singers, ride down the street to perform a capella during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge

17 Jan

Last fall while heading to southern Siouxland I stopped in at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge which actually straddles two states, Iowa and Nebraska, and did a short hike in nice weather, but limited area because of the migratory waterfowl movement in preparation for winter. It’s a nice place to spend a day, or even half a day. it also houses historical information about river movement during the early territorial times when people and goods moved upriver to the outer reaches of the early westward expansion of the U.S.

A raptor keeping watch for lunch along an inlet from the Missouri River at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A trail map of the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

There are a few exhibits within the learning or welcome center with staff there to assist one. And local area schools visit to learn more about their area and local history and the early pioneers.

A local school group visits the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge and play games that relate to animals found near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Exhibits abound at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge welcome center near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

But the attraction really is watching migratory birds that pass through, resting on their yearly trips and exploring the area through various trails that are easily accessible.

A walking trail makes its way through the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Trails traverse wooded areas at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A view out of a window at the welcome center at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge show resting geese near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

It’s a good place to get away from the stresses of the world, commune with nature as it were and just enjoy some peace and quiet.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sharing History in Siouxland, Council Bluffs

3 Jan

Council Bluffs probably sits on the southern border of Siouxland and it’s a place I have only recently begun to explore while visiting there. I find it fun to see how different communities explore their own history and share that history with visitors.

Historical tile work in the sidewalk at street corners in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Historical tile work in the sidewalk at street corners in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems to be a pretty city with fairly clean streets and welcoming to those walking about. Brick pavements in part and maintained older buildings seem to populate part of the downtown area.

Downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Tile in the intersections of some streets in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoyed walking through one of its parks and along a thoroughfare downtown were planted green spaces. It’s place I want to return to and walk around some more, although that probably won’t happen until spring, maybe summer. Winters in Siouxland can sometimes change quickly and if I don’t have to get out into the cold, I don’t. Plus I find it is nice to being to stroll and enjoy surroundings without looking for a place to duck into to warm up. And maybe even enjoy a park I came across.

A downtown park with water fountains give a fresh feeling in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Just outside this downtown area are some historic homes also with brick streets that lend to the historical nature and feel for this community that at one time was the “edge” of civilization as America was expanding west with hope and promise to people who were born here and to immigrants looking for an opportunity to better themselves in a welcoming new country.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Learning History around Siouxland, the Dodge House, Council Bluffs

10 Dec

On a recent outing I traveled south to the city of Council Bluffs which is probably outside the Siouxland perimeter but still is situated within the Loess Hills defined area. I wanted to visit a historic house, the Dodge House, a residence of the youngest Civil War general, Grenville M. Dodge and later a builder of the railroad network that traversed early America. Like all well maintained historical residences the home contains the essence of the era plus artifacts of the man’s life.

The Dodge House was the residence of one Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, a Civil War Veteran and railroad builder who settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A portrait of Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, a Civil War Veteran and railroad builder who settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The General lived quite an eventful life and at the time settled in Council Bluffs on what then was a frontier of America. On the Council Bluff’s website this bit of history of General Dodge is recorded: “In 1853, Grenville M. Dodge took charge of a crew surveying central Iowa to find a terminus for the Rock Island Railroad on the Missouri River.  Dodge chose Council Bluffs, and later he settled his growing young family there in 1855. Dodge and his brother created a banking house which merged into the Pacific National Bank and ultimately became the longest continuously chartered bank in Iowa’s history.  In 1858 Dodge made the acquaintance of an Illinois railroad lawyer named Abraham Lincoln, who had been hired by railroad financier Thomas Durant to do work in Iowa where Dodge was engaged in surveying.”

The General and his family lived in style as he pursued his military and later engineering career.

Docent Connie Spencer, right, leads a tour through the Dodge House in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A study for Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, a Civil War Veteran and railroad builder who settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bedroom in the Dodge House in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking down the stairwell from the top floor of the Dodge House in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy learning a little more history about places I live in and near. For some it might be useless information but knowing how life was previously lived is never a bad thing. Some just lived life a little better than others.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying the Lake in Siouxland, Arnolds Park

12 Jul

Recently I took a drive up to West Lake Okoboji at Arnolds Park and spent the day walking about enjoying a cooler day. Temps were in the 60’s with a pretty good gusts coming off the lake.

Choppy waters in West Lake Okoboji at Arnolds Park, Iowa Friday, June 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy cooler days than hotter ones personally, although some younger people bemoaned the fact they couldn’t soak up any sun, of which there was little that day. The water on the lake was also pretty choppy which figured into my plans for taking a tour on the Queen II, an excursion boat that spends about 1.5 hours on the lake giving the riders a bit of history. And the Queen in one of its iterations has been providing this service for decades.

The Queen II dock side in Arnolds Park, Iowa Friday, June 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I stopped by the office to buy a ticket and heard a couple employees talking about the choppy water and the possibility the ship may not go out. I took that as more probability than not, so found myself a coffee shop for a cup and a snack. And while enjoying myself with a book I had brought along, The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux, I heard the Queen’s whistle blow and knew I had miscalculated. But, with an entertaining read, coffee and a scone I sacrificed. I later found a small art gallery, Summerwind Gallery, and had a nice chat with the proprietor, Roberta, who also paints and explained she is currently working with pastel as her medium of choice.

So I felt my day was still spent well. Not too hot, a bit of a walk, and some really nice artwork to check out. Some days go as planned and some days one makes up as the day progresses. Both types of days are good and I hope to enjoy a few more of them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring Areas in Southern Siouxland, Monona County

12 Jun

Recently as I was headed to an area in southern Siouxland to photograph a building I came upon a couple of barns sitting on the side of the road. As I drove by the little voice in my head said, “You’re here, so stop.” And I did. Sometimes when pressed for time I don’t consciously think I need to stop. I always tell myself you can come back. But the light, the look and whatever it was that caught your attention will never be the same the next time. It could be better, but then again…..

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A barn in a field off of Hwy 141in rural Monona County, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A barn in a field off of Hwy 141 in rural Monona County, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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