Tag Archives: missouri valley 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

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

Harrison County History in Siouxland, Missouri Valley

4 Jul

I have visited a few museums over the years as have many people. One gets a pretty good sense of an area and the facility by what is displayed and information given by docents present. A recent trip to southern Harrison County led me to the Iowa Welcome Center on Highway 30 just outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa and to the Harrison County Historical Museum. It was a nice trip. I found so much information packed into this facility that I will probably revisit it a few times over the next few weeks and show different aspects.

The museum itself is situated on land previously owned by one Preston Niles who moved to the area in the 1930’s. The docents said he had started an orchard and grew different fruit trees and sold the products to locals. But evidently after the “transcontinental” Highway 3o or the Lincoln Highway was built, Niles built a small stand and sold his produce and other products like cherry juice to travelers.

Preston Niles is the former owner and founder of the museum for the Welcome Center and Harrison County Historical Museum near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Niles sounded like quite the entrepreneur. He then conceived the idea to create a museum through which he showed various artifacts he collected along with paintings he did of the surrounding area. The museum began in a log cabin built in the late 1853 near Ames, Iowa, and later that land was purchased by Niles’ father. This cabin was disassembled, numbered, moved and reassembled at its current location.

The early log cabin that Preston Niles, former owner of the site had moved to Harrison County and now park of the museum complex at the Welcome Center and Harrison County Historical Museum near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Over the years Niles prospered, recorded the local history as he collected items and displayed them for people to see. At some point the Harrison County supervisors purchased the land and the museum from Niles and continued the display of early Iowa in this part of Siouxland. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours looking at all the artifacts and then take a walk on a short nature trail overlooking the the surrounding area.

It’s nice to see history preserved for future generations to learn about their local history.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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