Tag Archives: loess hills

Light Play in Siouxland and the Loess Hills, Monona County

23 Sep

I like driving around the backroads or county gravel roads in Siouxland. Better when it has not recently rained. Nothing like getting stuck to make one appreciate cement roadways. But it’s the backroads where one can find some nice images as you meander around.

Fast moving clouds play and hide and seek with the sun and ground below them in the Loess Hills in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday August 29, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the Loess Hills in Monona County I keep switch back driving these roads and find myself driving through natural or agricultural settings. It’s especially fun after a recent storm or change in weather when the clouds fill the sky. As they move about they create a lot of light play on the ground and finding oneself in the right place at the right time can create nice images. But, one also has to be patient and wait for the clouds to pass below the sun. And at times it feels like forever.

But it really is worth it and then comes trying to decide which images best describe the scene one photographs. And how the light plays on the ground and what visually is appealing to you. That can be tough, but well worth the time spent enjoying the day, nature and seeing what scenes God displays for you.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland History in Harrison County, Welcome Center Missouri Valley

12 Aug

A few weeks back as I was getting out exploring some new areas to me in Siouxland, I finally visited the Harrison County Welcome Center outside of Missouri Valley. The Welcome Center and its museum originally started as a personal project of a Preston Niles who moved there and started an orchard and then a store and finally a small museum as it was situated on the Lincoln Highway, Route 30, that travelled across the country from east to west. The Welcome Center and its small village and museum has so many items and pieces of history that it’s easy to spend a couple of hours reading about all the items.

The Welcome Center and Harrison County Historical Museum near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Situated outside is a long wooden culvert that was used during the WWII era when metal was in short supply for drainage for communities. Talking with a docent she informed me that when more recent work began around the museum area, the culvert was discovered. And rather than throwing it into the landfill, added it to the other historical items, such as a Bible from the Civil War era, that is from the local area surrounding Missouri Valley.

A Bible from the Civil War era on display at the Welcome Center and Harrison County Historical Museum near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Docents at the Welcome Center and Harrison County Historical Museum explained that during WWII with a short supply of metal because of the war, wooden culverts were used for drainage in the area near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During a massive flood of the Missouri River during 2011 the docent told me some structures were lost and items from those individual displays were put together in a newer building that is more flood resistant than the former wooden structures, although not as historic in nature. And on a hot day, as this particular day, visitors can also try out some cider that is made there. Evidently part of the original owner Niles had an orchard and beside selling its fruit, also made non-alcoholic beverages from the fruit.

The Welcome Center and museum area is certainly a nice place to spend half a day acquainting oneself with local history and understanding some more of Iowa’s development in Siouxland.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Living History, or seeing it, in Siouxland, Wisecup Farm Museum

6 Aug

While visiting southern Siouxland this summer, I came upon another little slice of historical memorabilia. I find it surprising but also wonderful that there are so many museum’s of all stripes in western Iowa. Some in cities and small towns, but others created by people trying to preserve the past and help people understand what pioneers and early settlers lives were like prior to this 21st century. The Wisecup Farm Museum outside of Missouri Valley has a number of restored pieces of farming equipment as well as a one-room school house, a small chapel and homestead. A lot of stuff “stuffed” within the confines of a small space.

A variety of “antique” or former period farm machinery is found at the Wisecup Farm Museum in Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Antique Minneapolis Moline tractors form a line at the Wisecup Farm Museum in Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I appreciate the aged and no longer viable farm equipment I encounter because it was in use and the tech of the day while I was growing up on a farm. Farming today is as high tech as a number of other industries with satellite guided tractors and sensors to help farmers get the best yield from their tillable fields.

But it’s nice to know the what and how farmers got to this point. But it’s also nice that individuals find it important to share the past and help educate those of today. It’s been written that people are condemned to the past if they don’t know it. But that is another discussion for a better philosopher than myself.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Nothing Exotic in Siouxland, Persia

30 Jul

It’s always fun coming across communities with names that is associated with a different visual landscape. I visited Vail, Iowa a year or so ago, and as expected it didn’t look anything like its more famous Coloradan counterpart.

Recently I came upon the town of Persia, Iowa and seeing its name was curious if there were any similarities to 1001 Nights fairytale.

An early Iowa settlement is Persia, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The community has about 300 residents and like most Iowan communities was founded in the the 1880’s when railroads were making a push through the area headed west. Some online searching didn’t help me find the reason for the community’s name, although I stumbled upon another gentleman’s query into the small community sometime in the late 1990’s. He was from Iran and driving cross country and stopped in to ask about the community’s name and its beginning.

A small compact place, I found a few people out and about while in the downtown area before I left and continued my sojourn to Highway 30 and another community I wanted to visit before heading home. So many places and so much history, but sometimes finding it is not always easy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


Exploring southern Siouxland, Missouri Valley

26 Jul

I like driving about in Siouxland as I look for places to visit that I have not been to before, and the southern part of the area is a place I need to explore some more. Recently I stopped into Missouri Valley and walked about. It is nestled next to the Loess Hills region of Siouxland which draws a number of visitors throughout the year as it is only one two places on the entire planet, the other being in China, that has these particular earth formations called loess soil.

It was an extremely hot day that I picked to visit but sometimes one just has to make the best of it. The downtown area and main drag is actually the Lincoln Highway or Rte. 30 that passes through. The area retains some of its earlier historical feel with covered walks and brick sidewalks. Part of the community sits on a hill and looks out over the Loess Hills area and gives a bit more dramatic presentation. Sunset would be a perfect time to take in those views and maybe fall a better season to explore the area on foot a bit more.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring Siouxland, Woodbine

20 Jul

Earlier this summer I drive to a small community in southern Siouxland called Woodbine. A quaint little town with a very vibrant looking downtown. A resident told me the town was part of Main Street America program which helps downtown areas in smaller communities regain their vibrancy and utilize their past historical essence and spur economic growth.

The buildings downtown sparkled with fresh paint and sidewalk art.

Downtown Woodbine, Iowa with restored buildings Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sculpted pieces dot the “landscape” downtown in Woodbine, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The community also sits on the historic Lincoln Hwy. or Route 30 that crossed the nation and was traveled by thousands before the advent of the interstate highway system. It is a nice community to stop and check out and enjoy the ambience of small town America. Seeing so many of Iowa’s smaller communities looking a bit sadder in parts of Iowa it was pleasant to find a community with support within to build a comeback and make their presence know.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Prairie Chapel in Siouxland, Harris Grove Memorial Chapel, Harrison County

18 Jul

Driving around southern Siouxland I came upon a small memorial chapel in Harrison County. Sitting on a hill top overlooking its parishioners possibly, the chapel surveys the surrounding countryside. Unlike the Danish Ingemann Lutheran Church near Soldier that has suffered vandalism in recent years and is now fenced off, the Harris Grove Memorial Chapel has flourished and is open to visitors.

The Harris Grove Memorial Chapel in rural Harrison County, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

According to local media the church was first built in 1890, as a Methodist Church. It closed as a church in the 1930’s and a group of community residents purchased it from the Methodist Conference and restored it. Another media outlet reported that in 2015 the chapel was undergoing repair to its clock tower for preparation for a 125th anniversary in 2015.

The Harris Grove Chapel and others like it are a nice place for a visitor to see local history and find a place quiet and away from the daily outside noise to just sit quietly and contemplate the good fortunes in one’s life and to ask for help in overcoming those misfortunes that appear as well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


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