Tag Archives: rural america

Enjoying Early Morning Light in Siouxland, rural Nebraska, Winnebago, NE

17 Dec
A song sparrow sits in a bush eyeing a visitor to a meadow on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Deep shadows are formed as the sun streaks across a yet to be harvested field on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So I will wait another year here in Siouxland before enjoying the early morning jaunts looking for light traipsing through the rural landscape in and around Siouxland. Yes, there will be early morning light this winter, but it will be colder, and maybe less inviting without the warm fall colors adding to the scene. White is just that, white. Although there entails a challenge of maybe using trees and other object as a graphic element to create an image.

Sunlight lights up drying meadow grass on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wood ducks sit on a log in a pond on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sunlight lights up a yet to be harvested field and grain bins on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With early light this time of year most critters don’t seem to rouse to forage until the light is up along with warming up the temperature. I don’t blame them. Personally, staying under the covers in bed is a preferred winter’s morning destination for me, but that doesn’t actually accomplish the objective of photographing nature. Such a conundrum. But I will be patient and see what opportunities await this winter and see how much walking through the “tundra” I will do depending on that day’s temperature and the wind. Maybe I just need to bring a thermos of coffee along for those mornings out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Bison graze in a field on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Deep shadows are formed in yet to be harvested fields on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Wayne, NE

1 Dec
While known for the Wayne Chicken Show, this sculpted art piece is not connected to that venture, seen downtown in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when it’s doable, I just like to get in my vehicle and drive about Siouxland. Earlier this year I made a short day trip into Nebraska and stopped at a few small towns along the way. One of these places was Wayne, NE. It has a population a little over 5,500 via some 2019 online information.

Downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Agriculture still plays an important part in small communities like Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many times when I come upon a place it is without research as I am mostly looking for photographic opportunities plus just seeing what is in the Siouxland region. And many times I find that I will venture back in the future to explore something specific about a particular community just as a historical museum or former residence and maybe even utilize a trip to it for a class I teach through a local community college. And it’s just fun to see what is there, knowing well in advance that my day trip will probably not coincide with any festival or event that might take place in a community as I arrive mid-week, an unlikely time period for places to host community celebrations of any kind.

Buildings dating to another century in downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Art decorating a building and the downtown sidewalk in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is though a particular summer time event I have never attended in Wayne and want to at some point which is the Chicken Show. It began in the early 1980’s as part of a push by the local arts community to draw attention to itself and the community as a whole. Online information says chickens as a theme was utilized for the possible endless kinds of humor that might evolve, the rural location of Wayne, and the fact that there might also be endless art opportunities involving the chicken.

And from what I hear the show continues today in as strong a fashion as ever to delight of those residents of that community.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former railroad depot now a pizza joint in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Main street in downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Uehling, NE

25 Nov
Crossroads in downtown Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This past spring and summer I took some time to visit a few small communities in Siouxland that I had not stopped in before to just check them out and see what was there. My trips generally take place during the week and never seem to coincide with any events, which generally happen on weekends or evenings. Uehling, NE was one of the places I came across on a day trip. Like so many others its population is a little over 200 people but has some nice buildings maintained with a few flourishes about town for its appearance.

A wall mount dedicated to the anniversary of the community’s founding on a downtown store in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mural heading into empty space seen in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Founded in the early 1900’s it was also a short-lived railroad destination as train tracks headed west expanding the reach of a young nation. And like so many of those smaller communities it seemed to prosper early on then settled in as the train route continued west and larger communities were founded in other places that also because seats of local county and state government.

But even in passing it’s fun to see a small community still holding its own over 100 years later. A place people call home and visitors can only wonder about its part in creating history as they pass through.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A visitor might assume the community was named after Theodore Uehling seen in in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A country road heads off into the distance leaving Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Flying Escort in Siouxland, rural Thurston County, Nebraska

19 Nov
Two Canada geese get an escort from a bevy of Red Wing blackbirds as they fly along the Missouri River on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the last year I have spent more time visiting nature places in Siouxland with a concerted effort to hopefully photograph birds and other animals than in previous years. Shooting wildlife is not as easy as it seems. The critters are quite fast, but because of the pandemic I spent a good portion of my time traipsing through various nature preserves in the area, near and far. And enjoyed it. Shutting out so much “white noise” that has occurred because of people’s views on staying healthy, or not.

While walking a trail near the Missouri River not far from Winnebago, NE I saw some geese fly overhead with apparently an escort by some a flock of red-wing blackbirds. It made me think of those WWII war movies where B-51 bombers flew to Europe escorted by fighter plans to run interference during their mission. While I don’t believe the smaller birds were escorting the larger birds, it did give me pause, and a chance to marvel at nature and possible quirks I never noticed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Passing Through Siouxland, Emerson, NE

26 Oct
Main street exits into the countryside from downtown Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many of the small town communities throughout Siouxland have an extensive history, many tied to the beginning of the railroad as it began crossing the vast regions of the country expanding west. That is true of the small Nebraska community of Emerson. It began as a railroad town in 1881, a “junction on the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway. It was first known as “Kenesaw Junction.” But there was another town in Nebraska by that name, a new one, “Emerson,” for the author Ralph Waldo Emerson, was chosen. Emerson incorporated in 1888 when the population was between 200 and 300. By 1893 the village had grown to 600 residents.”

A mural depicts a former depot seen in Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A commemorative bench honoring loved ones in Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not quite 1,000 residents live in Emerson which sits on a crossroads to other points within the state and region. Everyone calls home someplace. People are born there, move with family or work work reasons. And in various places put down roots and stay. Small communities have disadvantages compared to their bigger siblings in some respects, but offer advantages that larger communities sometimes can’t. And problems and joys are found in both. The song said “Wherever I lay my hat, is my home”. For good or not, everyone comes from somewhere.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An overcast day and sunlight peeking through creates a dramatic look in Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Main street enters from the countryside to downtown Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A commemorative bench honoring loved ones in Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An area downtown honoring those from the area who served in the Armed Forces seen in Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall Coming to Siouxland, rural Northwest Iowa and Elsewhere

10 Oct
The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like many others, here in Siouxland and elsewhere, fall is a favorite time of year for me. The cooler temps, the colors, the expectation of not having to get up really early or stay up really late to shoot sunrises and sunsets. On a cool crisp morning, coffee even seems to taste better.

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Sept. 28, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A train passes through the area near the Missouri Valley Welcome Center outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like driving about the Loess Hills in Siouxland, western Iowa, and seeing the colors cascade over the hillsides and the turning of the corn crop to a golden brown. The light quality for photographs seems sharper with the sun’s light streaming across the landscape at a different angle than summer’s light. The shooting period seems shorter but the results richer. And it’s just nice to be out enjoying this season.

Checking out a trail at Preparation Canyon State Park north of Pisgah, Iowa Nov. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Leaves begin changing during a Photo Safari class outing in Ida Grove, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And as many people lament the fact that winter follows, I try not to dwell on that aspect of the changing seasons, preferring to just wait for it to happen and instead revel in the fall’s colors, hoping they last without a wind or rain storm, allowing one to traverse new places and those previously visited, always looking for on more photograph to capture a season and what it entails before its end.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

As the sun begins to set Canada geese blend into a recently harvested corn field looking for food Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County at Badger Lake near Whiting, Iowa as they begin their yearly migration south. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the sun begins to set Canada geese blend into a recently harvested corn field looking for food Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County at Badger Lake near Whiting, Iowa as they begin their yearly migration south. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Changing colors in the small community of Calumet, Iowa Tuesday, September 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall colors in and around Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Uehling, NE

22 Sep
Crossroads in downtown Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy driving around Siouxland, not always knowing what I might find. And like many other states, there are numerous small towns one might run across that somewhat appear out of nowhere, but have been in existence for decades if not a century for some of them.

A country road heads off into the distance leaving Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mount dedicated to the anniversary of the community’s founding on a downtown store in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some communities are a mere crossroad for the surrounding area. In former glory days these small communities sprung up as railroad tracks and lines were laid through the area. In earlier centuries the small town was necessary because of the distance to travel and time spent by early modes of transportation, which now with automobiles is not the issue it might have once been with horses and buggies and wagons.

Each place has a story to tell, although sometimes finding that story can be challenging. These days there is a plethora of content online, though it may not be the content one is searching for to find answers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A visitor might assume the community was named after Theodore Uehling see in in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mural heading into empty space seen in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Slow Recovery in Siouxland, Rosalie, NE

27 Aug
A welcome sign greets visitors as they enter the small community of Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While driving about visiting small communities in Siouxland, taking a look and realizing that some have changed in the last few years due to extensive damage caused by weather. Rosalie, NE was one of the communities affected by a storm in 2019 where a large amount of rain fell in a very short period of time causing flooding that might not otherwise have occurred. The community came into existence in the late 1800’s and was plotted in the early 1900’s, named for the daughter of a couple living among the Omaha Tribe in the area. The town began like a lot of Siouxland communities, because the railroad was building a rail line through the area.

One of the neighborhoods off of the downtown area in Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rosalie, NE, seen Saturday, May 22, 2021, was named for a daughter of an early settler in the the community in the late 1800’s. The town’s namesake, Rosalie, taught at a mission school located in town. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The town’s namesake taught at a mission school in the area along with her husband in the late 1800’s. “Rosalie married Edward Farley in 1880. They both taught at the mission school. In 1884 the Farleys were granted a lease on 18,000 acres of unallotted lands which became known as “Farley Pastures.” Upon the death of her father in 1888, Rosalie took over the tribal business affairs. Although she suffered greatly from inflammatory arthritis, she raised ten children and worked to improve education for all who lived in the area. She died at age 39, in 1900. Because of her great devotion to her people, it was decided to name the town in her memory.”

A main street in Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Currently over 180 people live in Rosalie, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. The community is located within the Omaha Indian Reservation and was platted in 1906 after the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad were building a line through the county the community is located within. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Small communities go through growing pains over the decades. Many of them suffered once the railroad pulled out having decided on a different hub or home base in another locale to work from which then necessitated the closure of a depot and any ancillary associated jobs. Some remodeling, minor and extensive occurs as buildings constructed one to two centuries ago need some work to keep them sound.

A former bank building in the downtown area of Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A nice entrance passed its prime on a downtown building in Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And as the economy shifted from small communities to larger metropolitan areas, taking with it residents and talent, these places suffer while trying to maintain the atmosphere all enjoyed and the needs of the remaining residents. And with the dwindling number of small communities and its residents the history of the place and its significance in the continuum of time is also lost. Many claim to like history, but none of us ever seem to really take the time to immerse ourselves in it to learn and maybe help gain a perspective that never crossed our mind.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bank building in the downtown area of Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A renovation project underway in Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downtown building is under going a renovation in Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Shapes and Angles in Siouxland, Winslow, NE

5 Aug
A building displays shapes and angles in Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When exploring parts of Siouxland I enjoy seeing various types of architecture, current and older. Some buildings are in better shape than others, but all display an architect’s original thoughts in the design. Whether more functional than beauty intended, each building has some design element for a viewer to enjoy. If only through a fleeting moment as one passes by, and if one takes the time to notice.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A building displays shapes and angles in Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A building displays shapes and angles in Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring Siouxland, Lyons, NE

30 Jul
Signage informs a visitor they are in Lyons, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021, which was founded in 1880 by one Waldo Lyons. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about Siouxland gives one a sense of history as many of the smaller communities were founded in the latter part of the 1800’s driven by expansion west from families seeking a new life and the advent of the railroad crossing the country. Lyons, NE was founded in 1880 by one Waldo Lyons according to one online site. Another site those has the beginnings of Lyon starting much earlier by two brothers from Wisconsin who served in the Union army and relocated to Nebraska after the civil war. The website gives a brief history of Lyons from its inception until 1929.

A “towncrier billboard” is set in the middle of a 4-way intersection in Lyons, NE with notices posted for residents and visitors seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A modest city hall seen in Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Trying to fight out information about smaller communities throughout Siouxland is not always easy. Documentation is not always readily available and sometimes just a few are informed only because it’s of personal interest, possibly family history intertwined with the place they are seeking information about. The population of the community today, or from the latest census data is about 800 people.

Downtown Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Brick streets are still found in the downtown area of Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Artifacts in a window in downtown Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many times when I am passing through or stopping in a community may not be ideal in finding local residents to chat with, or even those that might know the history of where they are living. The past is not always present on our minds during the day to day hustle and bustle we all find ourselves involved in.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Burlington Park is located near the main street running through Lyons, NE and pays homage to the history the railroad played in the community’s past, seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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