Tag Archives: rural iowa

Spring’s Rebirth in Siouxland, Preparation Canyon Park, Loess Hills

17 Apr

A turkey vulture soars overly newly burned grass during a control burn by Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while driving around Siouxland a person gets lucky. And it probably depends on the person how luck is defined. Of course for some there’s this on the one hand, and then that on the other. Tradeoffs happen. As I found out early last week when I came upon a control burn in Preparation Canyon Park by the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources. Giving Mother Nature a little help in jumping into spring. I found some newly sprung wildflowers gracing part of a trail along with a couple of turkey vultures looking for anything of a fricasee nature after the burn.

Turkey vulture getting a close up view on the ground during an Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources control burn at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As ugly as the birds appeared sitting on the ground, they were very graceful gliding over the terrain looking for a meal.

A turkey vulture soars overly newly burned grass during a control burn by Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I will assume the DNR does this type of burn yearly, partially to control undergrowth and well as to rejuvenate what’s there. The trail leading from an observation deck is relatively short and a pleasant hike as long as the temperature is not soaring itself into the high 90’s or 100 with high humidity. During the summer without wind it can be pretty stifling walking the trail with tall grass and trees.

A large swath of land is now barren after Iowa’s Dept. of Natural Resources did a control burn at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources does a control burn at Preparation Canyon Park seen from its observation deck in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The downside of finding the burning going on is that later I found myself with a very sore throat I am guessing irritated by the something burned and taking a couple days off to recover. By this summer though the hilly park will be a pleasant place to spend a morning or afternoon. Although by then the two turkey vultures might be on to another area to look for meals.

Legend at the observation deck tells the history of the Loess Hills at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tueday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A turkey vulture soars overly newly burned grass during a control burn by Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And not far away in the valley below where farmers will soon be preparing their ground for planting, more burning was taking place, whether it was planned or not. The afternoon that particular day was smoke-filled and made breathing difficult. But am guessing someone believes it makes a difference.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A grass fire is seen from the observation deck at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking to Backroads in Siouxland, Rural Clay County

25 Jan

As January heads towards the end of the month and the next wave of cold with teens and below zero readings popping up on weather prognosticators radar I start daydreaming of “warmer” days ahead, 40’s and 50’s are good, and hitting the road looking for images throughout Siouxland and areas surrounding it. I travel a number of the roads numerous times but never seem to tire of seeing familiar places and never of new places. So many places to explore, and such limited time. The next hill, summit and bend or curve in the road can be a splendid surprise. And I am hoping this year delivers in many ways.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A country road runs through rural Clay County, Iowa Saturday Oct. 8, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History in Siouxland, Communication Breakdown and the Inkpaduta Tragedy, Rural Woodbury County

21 Jan

A stopping place for Inkpaduta before he and his Indian band in rural Woodbury County, Iowa before he and his group later moved north to an area near the Iowa Lakes where the group killed white settlers and kidnapped young girls, seen Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s probably been long stated that communication is key in any context. Even in today’s vitriolic political stalemate. People just don’t listen to one another and take offense at what is said. So history repeats itself. And a bit of history in Siouxland informs a person that communication between native Americans and the early settlers did not always garner the clarity that would have prevented violence and misunderstanding.

A plaque commemorating a stopping place for Inkpaduta before he and his Indian band in rural Woodbury County, Iowa before he and his group later moved north to an area near the Iowa Lakes where the group killed white settlers and kidnapped young girls, seen Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In 1857 a band of renegade Sioux Indians were wandering what is now the rural Woodbury and Monona Counties and places north. Settlers were pushing the Native Americans off their former land to live their own version of paradise and renewal, starting life in a new place. Inkpaduta was a tribal chief of this small band of Sioux and his name became infamous in what was to become northwest Iowa when later in the same year he and his band killed settlers and kidnapped young girls from the Spirit Lake area. It’s hard to imagine even what the area looked like in the late 1850’s compared to now, with farming of the area continuous since that time period, and probably even more expanded as technology allowed farmers to cover more ground with tractors and other mobile equipment.

Terraced corn crop in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Horses grazing in a field in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And whatever few trails carried travelers through the area probably still exist as one or many of the current roadways that traverse the area. What was probably idyllic looking then is probably the same as now, only with fields rather than prairie grass. Over so many decades one would hope people would learn that it is better to communicate and find a way forward than repeating past mistakes than generally never end well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A gravel road running through a part of rural Woodbury County, Iowa Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An area in rural Woodbury County, Iowa near an Inkpaduta plaque marking a place where he and his tribe camped prior to heading north to the Iowa Lakes they later killed white settlers, seen Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

Visiting Siouxland, Alton

30 Dec

Somedays when I am driving about I stop in small community towns to visit and see what is there. Many times it’s during the week when people are at work so I don’t always see a lot of folk about. One such visit was in Alton, a community of a little over 1,200 people according to the last census count.

A mural reflecting Alton, Iowa Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like many of Iowa’s small communities Alton came to life in the latter part of the 1800’s as people moved west. A railroad arrived in 1872 and a hotel was built in 1873. A saloon also opened, but closed shortly afterwards.

Downtown Alton, Iowa Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of down town Alton, Iowa Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A quiet town that hasn’t forgotten its roots, but like many of the smaller communities that started with vibrancy, its beginnings are now different that current developments and citizens and young have migrated to larger communities offering more opportunity, but is still a good place to raise a family and enjoy a slower, quieter pace.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A tribute to those locals who have served near downtown Alton, Iowa Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring Siouxland, Fonda

16 Dec

I never tire of visiting small communities in Siouxland, most with a population of 2,000 or less, and some communities with less residents still. The town of Fonda is one such place, with a population of almost 700 people. It’s quaint and has a museum I found that I need to visit in season, that is, when it’s warmer and days are longer to allow for some drive time.

A mural celebrating the community in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the downtown area I came across a park that immediately made me think of another, slightly more famous park. Founded in 1870, Fonda’s park might not be so famous but offers the town’s residents a place to visit and hang out and have coffee with friends.

A Central Park in this not as famous community of Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A central gathering place in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is also a community garden near the downtown area where residents can also chat while producing some garden vegetables and other edibles they may desire. This particular day I met a couple of locals, but they were too shy to hang around while a visitor explored the area.

A community garden anchors one end of the downtown in Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A couple local residents enjoy some sunshine in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But next summer I plan to return and visit the local museum to learn more about the history of the area and the community itself which hopefully will lead to more exploration and a chance to explore more of the area.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A little history posted on a museum in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Fonda Museum based in the McKee Opera House in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Fonda

2 Dec

A mural celebrating the community in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like visiting the small towns that dot Siouxland. Most are quaint and all give a look into the history of what made this part of the state what it is. There are many time places to learn a little more about a community’s past, although it sometimes depends on the time of year and catching a museum when it is open.

A little history posted on a museum in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Fonda Museum based in the McKee Opera House in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like walking the quiet streets and wondering what traffic must have been like during the early pioneer days when the town was just getting underway and full of promise for itself and its residents. A lot of communities though are slice of life and lifestyle that people call home and enjoy. A place to get away from other distractions that might be occurring elsewhere in the country.

A couple local residents enjoy some sunshine in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A community garden anchors one end of the downtown in Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I also enjoy the visual puns which I think are not on the minds of people when what they represent are originally created. A central park, like the one in Fonda, is just that, a central park to a community. But say the name and most times folk will think of New York City.

A Central Park in this not as famous community of Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A central gathering place in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it’s still a nice to go and sit at the end of the day and visit with friends and neighbors and soak in the community one knows and appreciates and hope for a continued success as the future keeps coming and life keeps changing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring Vision in Siouxland, Fonda

22 Nov

When out photographing I am always debating myself about the best way to present an image. I sadly must admit I have a strong opinion when I see things and immediately photograph something as I think it should be seen. I try to temper that strong opinion when teaching because we all see differently, and just try to offer an alternative viewpoint of an image in case a student didn’t consider that possibility. And trying to get them to look at scenes completely and then making an image because they felt strongly about it.

A light post and its shadow in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This is the image I decided I liked best even though I did a couple with a more horizontal view. I liked isolating the light pole and shadow within the frame without too much distraction around them. Which I think a more horizontal image would provide.

A light post and its shadow in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The shadow and light pole I think become lost with the space and other rectangular elements in the image. But that’s just me. I find these days I am shooting more squares simply because I like the presentation more and it gives me more vertical space to play with. Ah, it’s all in the eye of the beholder and preferences we all have in making our decisions with images.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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