Tag Archives: rural iowa

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©)

Siouxland History the Corner Hardware store, Correctionville

19 Mar

 

Taking one’s time visiting small towns can sometimes reap small rewards. The rewards depending on one’s point of view. I found quite by accident while visiting Correctionville in December a hardware store that the current owner, Phil Sevening, told me has been in continual operation since its opening since 1872.

The Corner Hardware has been in operation since 1872 in Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Owner Phil Sevening of the Corner Hardware store helps customer Kathy Koskovich. The store has been in operation since 1872 in Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I wished at the time I had asked more questions, but he was busy with customers and I had other plans and haven’t gotten back to him. But like small town stores, it carried a lot of essentials people might need, and then a few other items as well.

The usual kind of tools can be found at the Corner Hardware store in Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

The Corner Hardware store in Correctionville, Iowa, has been in continuous operation since 1872 Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The store also had another room that carried collectibles someone might find they couldn’t live without. Then or now.

Antiques and “collectibles” in an additional room at the Corner Hardware store in Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Antiques and “collectibles” can be found in an additional room at the Corner Hardware store in Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

But the additional charm of the place is that locals who came into the store knew one another and spent a little time catching up and sharing news they thought others would appreciate hearing.

Local residents Marc Groszkrueger, left and Keith Byers, right, chat at the Corner Hardware store, in operation since 1872, in Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

But then again, a sign upon entering also let everyone know they should be a little civil in their discourse.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Owner Phil Sevening of the Corner Hardware store keeps a friendly reminder to customers in view near the front. The store has been in operation since 1872 in Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Fading Communities in Siouxland, Little Sioux

15 Mar

Driving around the Siouxland area I come across a fair number of small communities and at some point, make the effort to stop and visit. I have driven past an exit for Little Sioux many times as I head to the southern end of Siouxland and always remind myself that I need to stop in and check it out. The community dates from 1885 and is situated near the Missouri River where there is a rather large campground filled with Rv’s. And it doesn’t seem like it has grown much over the 100 plus years of its existence. Like all small communities there is the grain elevator sitting on a main county road.

The RiverSioux grain elevator located in Little Sioux, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The community itself though is kind of rough, and that is sad. There were quite a few homes vacate and in disrepair. Along one street only one mail box remained, and I couldn’t tell if it was in use or not.

An abandoned home in Little Sioux, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Only one mailbox sits atop a rail designed for four or more on a street in Little Sioux, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The exit to Little Sioux heading north showed a gas station closed for what appears to be many years.

A sign for a former gas station at the I-29 exit ramp to Little Sioux, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A former gas station at the I-29 exit ramp to Little Sioux, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Never a good sign for any community. The campground looked to swell with residents over the summer and maybe even fall when the weather is more conducive for that activity.

There are still quite a few homes that appear occupied. And there didn’t really seem to be any type of downtown area.

Some homes like a small one in particular must have looked quaint in its youth.

A small and apparently abandoned home in Little Sioux, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A small and apparently abandoned home in Little Sioux, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

As time passed this community and others by, the youth leave looking for work and life beyond the simple and humble life small towns provide. And as the older folk age and leave themselves for their reward in heaven, a bit of history is left behind without anyone to tell it and fades into a distant past.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

 

Visiting History in Siouxland, Correctionville

1 Mar

Sometimes it’s easy to pass history by when one is in a hurry getting from Point A to Point B. The Midwest is occasionally referred to as Flyover Country by those living on either coast. And for a person traveling by car, the same is true. Recently driving through Correctionville I took the time to stop and walk about. One thing I discovered is that the small town is named after a land marking convention.

The city of Correctionville, Iowa, received its name for the land division that takes place within its city limits, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Incorporated in 1855, a landmark to honor how the city of Correctionville, Iowa, received its name, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I also found a former bank building that was established in 1892 and now housing a local museum. And again, a grain elevator is one of the main downtown businesses that thrive in smaller Iowa communities. It is an agricultural state and most small towns have one elevator for the local farmers.

A former bank building established in 1892, and now a museum in Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A closed store in the downtown area of Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I came across a former Mobil Oil company gas station. Growing up I can sightly remember seeing such stations in TV advertisements and in print magazines the 1950’s and ’60’s.  A now faded commemorative plaque talks about cross-country travel, mostly done then by people in automobiles. And prior to the major interstates that now criss cross the country, these small town stations provided easy access to refueling and helped to spur the local economies.

Now a bait and tackle shop, a former stone gas station finds a new purpose, like many former businesses in small communities like Correctionville, Iowa, went through changes, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A faded sign commemorating cross-country travel near a former gas station in Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. Many communities have seen their communities change with residents and businesses also fading. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But a gem I came across is a former school house built in 1881 and now for many years housing the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) and a veteran’s meeting hall. For the most part, small towns commemorate a lot from their past as the future remains unsure since young people tend to move to larger communities where they can find employment and more opportunity and history recedes in the smaller towns and futures are lived large in metro areas.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

A former school building operating since 1881 and now a G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) and veterans building in Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A former school, now the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) and Vets center in Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

Exploring the backroads of Siouxland, Rural Woodbury County

27 Feb

An empty barn along a gravel road in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

As I wait for better weather and better roads, another ice and snow storm is predicted for Siouxland, I’m anxious to go exploring the seemingly endless backroads that are available. These gravel and dirt roads are best navigated in dry weather. Looking forward to seeing what new places I can find and share and seeking new windows to look through and discover.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

A patchwork quilt barn in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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