Tag Archives: rural iowa

Looking for Good Neighbors in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

5 Jul

Driving around Siouxland I am always looking for examples of photography to share with people who take my Lifelong Learning photography classes at Western Iowa Tech. I like to update what I share instead of living on “past glories”, plus in teaching I think I should continue practicing what I talk about. And what a better way to spend a day. Driving about Monona County a old saying struck me while I was looking at various “leading lines”. “Fences make for good neighbors.”

And I assume the neighbors in this area of the Loess Hills were fairly happy with one another. And so was I as I stopped to photograph another leading line.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A road grader smooths out a dirt road after a harsh winter and spring rains in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A fence line in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A fence line in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Remnants of History in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

25 Jun

While traversing some of the backroads in Siouxland I am sometimes struck with the thought of what life must have been in an earlier century, or two. Coming across an abandoned house, barn and small shed near a forested area in rural Monona County, the nostalgia part of me thinks life was probably simpler. Raising some stock and crops, maybe hunting in the woods for some food and no worry about the hustle and bustle of the modern world as we now know it.

An unoccupied farmhouse in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But then a more rational part of the brain kicks in with thoughts about living near a hospital in case of a serious emergency. Or hot, muggy nights near a forest without a breeze and surrounded by gnats and mosquitoes. Somehow the thought of need and want became intertwined along the way and people these days, myself included, could live without a number of items I have acquired over the years. The need of food, lodging and other basics are the more important aspects of life.

Unused barns from a former homestead in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The advent of marketing, which began centuries ago (think prostitutes and other necessary evils), helps feed the need of want. And maybe that is why life then may have seemed simpler, being away from the bombardment of all the glorious contraptions of man one never bothered to worry or think about those things, but just what was around you. The peace, solitude and loved ones living life a day at a time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing History in Siouxland, Preparation Cemetery in the Loess Hills

21 Jun

While driving about in the Loess Hills region of Siouxland recently I came upon a cemetery I was not aware of.

Preparation Cemetery sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Preparation Cemetery sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is populated by people who settled in the area in the 1850’s. Part of a movement of Mormon settlers heading west and looking for their promised land. I thought I had driven most of the back roads in this area but apparently not. The cemetery sits on a quiet hill and is a nice resting place to those who were looking for a better life in an earlier century.

The Perrin family added land to the Preparation Cemetery which sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Preparation Cemetery sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Again, it’s hard to imagine walking some of the same ground that actual pioneering families traversed looking for a new opportunity and the months of travel it took to reach a destination seems daunting. But those eager souls were more willing to take a chance and trust in their faith for a better life and seek out a new place to start life again with all the inherent difficulties presented at that time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Preparation Cemetery sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting Siouxland’s “gated” communities, rural Monona County

9 Jun

During a drive in the southern portion of Siouxland recently I was enjoying the greening of the countryside, both the grazing pastures as well as the newly planted agricultural fields. With a long cold wet spring, it looked like area farmers finally are seeing results of getting crops into their fields.

A newly planted field begins to grow in the Loess Hills region of rural Monona County in northwest Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I was looking at some grazing pastures it dawned on me about city gated communities and rural ones. I have done some reportage on such communities when I lived in the southern California area for a newspaper there. The places were generally always exclusive wanting to keep nefarious types out of the area. But normally in the rural areas, the gates are meant to keep livestock in as well as keeping nefarious types out too. Maybe the two are not so far apart at that.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A gated field in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A windy day in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 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©)

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