Tag Archives: rural america

Exploring a Siouxland Community, Hartington, NE

26 May

Driving about in Siouxland one comes across many small communities. If time permits and sometimes I schedule my day in a way to spend a little time exploring a place like Hartington, NE. The small community is the country seat of Cedar County and a courthouse plaque gives some background and history.

A plaque commemorating the history of Cedar County, NE on display in front of the Cedar County Courthouse in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Cedar County Courthouse in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was fun to see some still Christmas decorations on one of the courthouse trees. Either a reminder or a promise of what is to come again.

Christmas decorations still hang in a tree in front of the Cedar County Courthouse in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A well kept small town, there was some renovation as a former hotel that appears to be once again reinventing itself as a destination to stay during a visit.

Restoration of a former hotel is underway in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Restoration of a former hotel is underway in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

All smaller communities in America share that quiet place except for special events which makes visiting them a chance to slow down, take a casual stroll about and enjoy a less hectic or frenzied moment while still enjoying the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Restoration of a former hotel is underway in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The main street in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The local countryside is seen from the top of a street in downtown Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Restored downtown buildings, including a former department store owned by the Globe family in Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a Peek in Siouxland, Coleridge, NE

8 May

A few weeks ago while driving in the Nebraska area of Siouxland, I stopped into the small Coleridge, NE to have a look. Many times while traveling to another location for work or pleasure I will make a mental note to revisit and area to check a place out a bit more. A community of not quite 500 people, it is reminiscent of many small farming communities. The downtown area was lively the morning I stopped by and found an interesting “farm store” downtown with some fare to sell. And a grain elevator anchors the downtown area as in most small, rural communities.  Summer is near and the possibility for more exploration in this land called “Siouxland”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Residents visit downtown in Coleridge, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A downtown farm store has some equipment and spare parts waiting in an alley next door to the store in Coleridge, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A store window of what may have been a former antique shop in Coleridge, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A grain truck heads out of the downtown area of Coleridge, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Seeing the Unique in Siouxland, Hartington, NE

28 Apr

Each community has its own uniqueness, some which loom larger than others simply because of the size of the community. And it may not be a good or bad thing, or unique to all people. It’s just what catches my eye and which makes me smile.

An off the beaten patch home decor store, Reinvented Mercantile, in Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I saw this mercantile store, maybe a second hand store, which I couldn’t determine if it was open or not. But the color caught my eye as did some of the wares on display outside the store, which was not open at the time. A small mystery that will not send any ripples through the universe. But which I still found intriguing.

Some interesting items for sale at an off the beaten path home decor store in Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

China,some of which was made in Germany, on display in front of a mercantile store in Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And this building facade, while not part of the mercantile store was delightful in its own way, drawing attention to itself and possibly encourage patrons and visitors alike to stop by and explore. Such a large universe and so little time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shapes and patterns on a downtown building in Hartington, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

Finding Passion in Siouxland, Ashton

22 Apr

A couple of years ago or so  I ran across a gentleman in the small Siouxland community of Ashton who was pursuing his love and passion of collecting and restoring older farm tractors. Maybe passion is a strong word to use, but Lloyd Baker, who previously worked for a local tractor dealer for a number of years, had a number of tractors sitting around his garage in the small community waiting for some individual attention.

Lloyd Baker laughs a little as he talks about collecting and refurbishing tractors, especially John Deere tractors, almost his entire life, and keeps an ongoing changing collection in Ashton, Iowa, March 29, 2015. (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Lloyd Baker currently has a collection of 52 tractors he is planning on refurburshing sitting around his workplace in Ashton, Iowa, March 29, 2015. He works on different tractor models of different brands, but especially likes John Deere tractors. (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

He said he enjoys getting the older agricultural workhorses running again and doesn’t discriminate against make or model. I saw him recently participating in a tractor pull at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta. Pulling the sled with ease with his John Deere Tractor.

Lloyd Baker of Ashton, Iowa participates in a tractor pull for “antique” tractors at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always nice to meet people who enjoy a hobby and doesn’t mind spending time trying to get things right. Restoring older tractors can be a challenge to either find existing parts or making them yourself to get the machinery functioning again.

Part of Lloyd Baker’s collection of tractors he plans on refurbishing is an Economy, circa late 1930’s, made by Sears & Roebuck Co. that he acquired. Baker said the tractor was shipped to the buyer and then required assembly, seen at his work place in Ashton, Iowa, March 29, 2015. (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

And then to participate in friendly competitions with other collectors and restorers to see whose tractor performs best is just a throw back to those county fair competitions I remember as a child, hearing the grandstand roar as the favorite does well. With winter seemingly finally coming to an end with a recent late snow storm, I hope to drive some more back roads and find other people pursuing their passion or maybe just enjoying their “retirement” in a way that makes them happy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Stopping by in Siouxland, Modale

20 Apr

Another small community in the southern portion of Siouxland is Modale. With a little over 270 people it is a quiet town. Like so many the main employer seen is apparently a grain elevator.

A grain elevator in Modale, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But like so many other small communities, it seems Modale’s initial promise began in the 1870’s when the railroad passed through it on its journey west and was settled by pioneers emigrating west from the East. It is surrounded by a farming community and has a small downtown area which still thrives.

Downtown Modale, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A local church with a slightly used bell tower in Modale, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The local U.S. Post Office appears to have been connected to another building or business before removal in Modale, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am always happy to see life in smaller communities. As time marches forward the continual shift of young people to larger metropolitan areas is always going to happen.

A former school in Modale, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the place for small communities is just as important. Some people just enjoy the peace and solitude that smaller communities give, and city folk are generally not inclined to enjoy the farming accoutrements that help them thrive.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A semi hauling hay bales through Modale, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Introduction to the Mormon Trail near Siouxland, Council Bluffs

18 Apr

During a visit in southern Siouxland I stopped at the Kanesville Tabernacle in Council Bluffs. Being pressed for time I did not go inside to tour the historical site but learned later that is was where Brigham Young was “sustained” or acknowledged as the second president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Another historical mormon site in located in Omaha, NE which I did visit and gave me insight as what I might find at the tabernacle. I love history, even history I may not totally understand or even agree with.  As a fictional TV character once said, “It’s better to know than not know.”

And I believe that many people are looking for the path to Heaven and redemption through Jesus, it’s just that they are following different footpaths to get there. And whatever one’s proscribed faith, history helps inform us and then leaves us to determine what we should or not believe.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The historical story of the Mormon trek from Nauvoo, IL to Slat Lake City, UT is partially told at the Kanesville Tabernacle located in Council Bluffs, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The historical story of the Mormon trek from Nauvoo, IL to Slat Lake City, UT is partially told at the Kanesville Tabernacle located in Council Bluffs, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The historical story of the Mormon trek from Nauvoo, IL to Slat Lake City, UT is partially told at the Kanesville Tabernacle located in Council Bluffs, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Patterns in Siouxland, City and Country

16 Apr

While out shooting I always try to see “new” things or at least revisit something I may not have paid attention too previously while driving about Siouxland. It was only recently that the idea of manmade patterns kind of jumped out at me. Not in a “lightbulb” moment, but a quite, Ahhhhhhhh, kind of realization while looking at some images I was thinking about using for this blog. It’s been kind of fashionable in smaller rural communities both in the town, but more likely in the country at farms to put up a “farm quilt” pattern on the side of a barn. A kind of fashionable trend that I noticed in the Siouxland area maybe around 2006 or so. And now one sees them more often. But in a way, those patterns have always been there, maybe in a slightly different form but still created by farmers, most often in their fields. To mention such an idea to my Dad when he was living would probably have provoked a raised eyebrow and a quick hand to my forehead to see if I was feeling ill. And then maybe a smile, knowing that I look for visuals where others may not.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A local grain elevator building with a patch quilt attached and a wind or storm induced quilt of its own with missing siding in Coleridge, Nebraska Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Clouds pass through rural Woodbury County, Iowa Thursday July 27, 2017, creating a patter in the sky that works along with the pattern on the ground after a farmer finished readying his alfalfa field for baling. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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