Tag Archives: omaha nebraska

Enjoying History near Siouxland, a Union Railway Station, Omaha, NE

8 Dec

The Durham Museum was formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are so many facets of history that sometimes its easy to overlook particular pieces of it, even when it’s not so easy to overlook once you are aware. On a recent outing to Omaha, NE with some friends, we visited the Durham Museum which used to be a Union Railway Station.

The entry hall or main waiting area of the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station, dwarfs visitors now as then, seen in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

To say the least, the place is magnificent and utterly gorgeous. We traveled to the Museum to see a current showing of a wildlife photographer’s work which was very impressive. But once one walked into the station it was hard to keep moving toward the exhibit housed there. A brochure says for a station to be a union station it required a train depot to serve more than one railroad line. And evidently during its heyday this station served the Union Pacific, Chicago & Northwestern, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Illinois Central System, the Missouri Pacific and the Wabash Railway. And small scenes of recreated history as well as plaques informing a visitor abounded about the place.

A few replica scenarios show what the Union Station’s original purpose are on display at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A few replica scenarios show what the Union Station’s original purpose are on display at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Displays tell the history of the former Union Pacific Railroad station, a hub of action during the Second World War, and now the Durham Museum, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I find it hard to imagine the hustle and bustle that must have been happening in this station. I have not been to New York’s Grand Central Station or other still functioning railway stations so I have no sense of the enormity of the number of people gathered in one place just passing through.

Displays tell the history of the former Union Pacific Railroad station, now Durham Museum, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Displays tell the history of the former Union Pacific Railroad station, now Durham Museum, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The bronze scenes help give a sense of what might have occurred at the time and is a pleasant little scene for families to take photographs around while visiting. I would think it would in the day have been easy to have gotten lost or separated from companions. But not so much today. It’s a grand place to reflect on changing demographics and transportation modes but truly filled with history that anyone can appreciate.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A few replica scenarios show what the Union Station’s original purpose are on display at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Displays tell the history of the former Union Pacific Railroad station, now Durham Museum, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Light Play in Siouxland, Omaha, NE

26 Nov

Visiting the city of Omaha, NE, just south of Siouxland one can enjoy the urban environment without some of the hassle of much larger metropolis. And the light interacts differently with buildings there than it does in other cities I visit in and around the Siouxland area.

An architectural detail on a building near Old Market in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Soft light and a bit harsher light, although fall produces less of the latter with the sun occupying a different sector of the sky. I just enjoy the light play and how it interacts with these manmade structures and makes me ponder if the original architect really knew what would happen in such a scene as he/she were planning the design for this particular building, or if it was merely commerce and a commission to get something up that would become a warehouse, office building, or later formerly used buildings converted into loft apartments.

Afternoon light highlights one building and shades another near Old Market in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Neighborhood residents enjoy the sunshine near Old Market in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The architecture harkens an earlier era and gives a nice feel to this part of Omaha. And personally try to enjoy these simple pleasures, the interplay of light and shade, sometimes in snippets and fragments as I explore surrounding Siouxland areas.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Railing shadow and wall design near Old Market in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summertime and finding fun in and around Siouxland, Omaha, NE

29 Jun

On an earlier outing this summer south of Siouxland traveling down to Omaha, NE I came across a street fair that has been a recurring event there, Summerfest. Sioux City where I live also has an arts festival, generally occurring in early September. As I walked about it also happened to be an extremely hot day, but that didn’t seem to deter people from checking out what was there.

Artists stalls line a street at the Summer Fest arts festival in downtown Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A family poses for a street artist during the Summer Fest arts festival in downtown Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I found myself more interested in the canal flowing into the downtown area, maybe because it was shaded and I had already spent a good part of the day visiting the Lauritzen Gardens.

The Summer Fest arts festival borders a canal located near downtown Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A duck quietly sits in a canal that parallels Summer Fest arts festival in downtown Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

However it didn’t escape my notice that a couple of guys demonstrating black smith technique were taking a break working in the heat and putting their portable furnace to a different use, getting in a bit of lunch.

 

Workers demonstrating black smith techniques take a break during the Summer Fest arts festival to grill some lunch in downtown Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

That is the nice thing about traveling, even just down the road, one can always find something new, to oneself, and enjoy the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Garden Surprise near Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE

27 Jun

On a recent trip with a south of Siouxland I visited the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, Nebraska. Although it was a very hot day, the gardens visit was truly wonderful. A few different gardens, some formal and others not, with a variety of plants. But what truly caught my eye was a model train setup in the gardens with tracks and wooden trestles made from twigs and branches with plants growing around and within the train tracks.

People watch a model train cross a trestle bridge overhead at the model train exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

There are a number of trestle bridge configurations for the several running trains at the model train exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The train master Bill Willis explained that the setup was commissioned and built by Paul Busse, a model railroad enthusiast, who has built other such models in other cities. Willis maintains and sees that repairs as needed are done as well as checking tracks for overgrown plants.

A plaque at the explains how the train exhibit originated at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Bill Willis oversees the model train exhibit set up at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Bill Wilis, trainmaster and dispatcher clears a track area of debris at the model train exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardensin Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Such a setup was thing I never really imagined finding in a garden setting. But it is so beautifully entrenched and appears almost out of nowhere until you walk right up on it. It was just a delight.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visitors wait for one of several running model trains in an exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardensin Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

There are various trestle bridge configurations set up for the model train exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One of several running model trains crosses a trestle bridge at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

There are numerous trestle bridge configurations at the model train exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Besides the wooden branch and twig train track configurations, there are also a number of buildings representing different aspects of the city of Omaha built of wood at the model train exhibit display at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visiting a Big Boy near Siouxland, Omaha NE

19 Jun

As I continue exploring areas in and around Siouxland I always feel blessed that I keep finding interesting places to explore. Some I spend a little more time at than others, but it’s enjoyable to learn more history about an area that I know others have already had the opportunity to enjoy. So it was in visiting a piece of Omaha’s history, a Big Boy engine that sits above a freeway and is connected to the Lauritzen Gardens.

The Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy Engine in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A history of the Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy Engine on a plaque at the display in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular engine is one of twenty five that were built to help with the U.S> government’s WWII war effort. It looms large when driving up the freeway and even larger when encountering it in person. It was also fun to find a couple from California who have traveled the U.S. visiting each of these powerhouses.

Dwarfed in size while standing in front of this Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy Engine on display in Omaha, NE where it was built in 1944 is a couple who is traveling the United States and visiting each and everyone of these behemoths, seen Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The rail service stills hauls a great deal of freight overland and many communities I have lived in and visited and crisscrossed with railroad tracks. When in a city, it seems forever for a train to pass by, but that’s to be expected when they are traveling slowly through crossings. But seeing them in the country slicing through the landscape it’s almost hard to imagine now the manpower and blood, sweat and tears expended to lay the track that helped propel this country into a business opportunity for some from coast to coast.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The walkway leading to the area for the Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy Engine is decorated with Midwest iconography seen in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

This Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy Engine is on display in Omaha, NE where it was built in 1944 as one of 25 of the fastest locomotives in its time seen Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

This Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy Engine is on display in Omaha, NE where it was built in 1944 as one of 25 of the fastest locomotives in its time seen Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Walking Among History near Siouxland, Mormon Pioneer Cemetery in Omaha, NE

30 May

One day while driving south of the Siouxland area I headed to Omaha, NE and visited the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters.

The Morman Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters tells the story of the Mormon people after they left Nauvoo, IL and headed west eventually reaching Utah and the gives an accounting of the people and the journey to their selected sacred site, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There was a lot of history packed into this facility, not only about the Mormon people and their journey west, but about history in general and what was going on during this time period.

Across the street is a pioneer cemetery for Mormons who ventured West, at that time Iowa and Nebraska was part of the western territory and frontier. The cemetery today a temple as well and is dedicated to those hearty souls who could not complete the physical journey to their home west in Utah. But ended their journey earlier and returned home to their heavenly Father.

A plaque commemorating the Pioneer Mormon Cemetery for those who died as they attempted to read a new promise land, and which now sits across from the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A couple visit a memorial site in the Pioneer Mormon Cemetery and which sits across from the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It sometimes gives me chills to think of others who have walked an area before from another century and the journey they were making in a land that now does not resemble that pioneer period at all.

An entrance into the Pioneer Mormon Cemetery which sits across from the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A grave marker at the Pioneer Mormon Cemetery which sits across from the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A remaining remaining grave markers in the Pioneer Mormon Cemetery for pioneering Mormons on their trek to a new promised land in Utah and which sits behind a Mormon temple and across from the Morman Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters which tells the story of the long journey west, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People of all faiths have at some point in history made a journey to a promised land looking forward to a better life. And some people do not reach their intended destination but are called home to their Lord to begin another journey, one of peace and joy and unfettered by any earthly concerns.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Westward Ho, Siouxland, Mormon Trail Center Historic Winter Quarters, Omaha, NE

12 May

The Morman Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters tells the story of the Mormon people after they left Nauvoo, IL and headed west eventually reaching Utah and the gives an accounting of the people and the journey to their selected sacred site, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent visit to Omaha, NE I came across the Mormon Trail Center, Historic Winter Quarters museum that tells the tale of the Mormons westward travels from Nauvoo, IL when residents there forced them to leave and look elsewhere to settle. I am always amazed at the pockets of history around and near Siouxland, although I shouldn’t be. At one time Iowa and the region was just a prairie and part of that westward expansion. Mormon missionaries guide you through the museum and exhibits helping you to understand their tale of reaching Utah and Salt Lake City which would become their mecca and a place of religious tolerance.

Sister Millet, 2nd from the right and Sister Price, right, are part of a group of Mormon missionaries doing their service by giving tours to those visiting the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bust of Joseph Smith on display at the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. The photograph in the background shows the Mormon temple built at Nauvoo, IL because the Mormons were forced to leave. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A painting depicting the Mormon journey west hanging in the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like any settlers heading west the Mormon people encountered obstacles in reaching their destination. The Winter Quarters museum explains how the majority of people stayed put two to three years while Brigham Young and other leaders continued west looking for the place to settle that Young had seen in a vision. The missionaries put into context the travels along with what else was happening in the U.S. during that time period. The Kanesville settlement in what is now Council Bluffs, Iowa became a early provisions emporium which also helped outfit other settlers heading west, including a number of “49’ers” headed to California to find their reward in gold, as opposed to the Mormon’s spiritual reward.

Traveling from Nauvoo, IL and heading west, a brief description of the Mormon trek heading west and through Iowa seen at the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A map showing the location of each of the camps of the Morman Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display showing the settlement around Council Bluffs and Omaha during the Mormon trek to Utah on display at the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History to me is always fascinating. People’s spiritual beliefs are more in common than not, it’s just that sometimes in getting to the same spiritual heaven, we find ourselves on different footpaths getting there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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