Tag Archives: Rural South Dakota

Waiting for Spring in Siouxland, rural South Dakota

18 Feb
A snow covered gravel road off of Highway 4 in South Dakota not far from Akron, Iowa Tuesday, February 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like many folk in Siouxland and elsewhere, I am waiting for spring and passable roads to again explore the area and places I have, and have not been. Some roads during winter I might not attempt to navigate without a pickup truck with real four-wheel drive. So looking over the hill to see what lies beyond will have to wait for a thaw and maybe some road conditioning for some places to be accessible without problems.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Finding History While Wandering in Siouxland, Rural South Dakota

21 Apr

Older tomb stones in an unnamed cemetery in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while driving around Siouxland I will stumble upon something I haven’t seen before and I always find that exciting. Although it doesn’t mean it’s something not known to others. I recently came upon an older, possibly pioneer cemetery in rural South Dakota. The older tombstones gave that impression, yet there were newer stones there as well so it’s still hallowed ground that continues in use.

A fence line bordering an unnamed cemetery in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)


Older grave markers in an unnamed cemetery in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I couldn’t find a name along the fence line for the cemetery and was then not able to do any research online as to its origins and who exactly may have settled in the area originally farming what was probably then part of the Dakota Territories. Given its location on a secondary road the settlers and this cemetery sat far from civilization. In a way it still does. But the plot of land is tended and that shows respect for those who have passed from this earth by those whose time has not come to follow. I can only suppose that it is descendants who continue to use this cemetery and care for those relatives who have left this earth, holding on to a dream of a new and better life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An unnamed cemetery in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring Slowly emerges in Siouxland, Rural South Dakota

13 Apr

Flood water still fills a field bordering a main roadway in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finally it seems spring is beginning to flirt with the Siouxland area, some days of sunshine and cloud play with light over the landscape. But that doesn’t mean the area has rid itself entirely of winter or the leftover of bad weather that combined into too much water, liquid and frozen, that overran much Siouxland and others areas bordering it.

One main roadway is still closed because of flood water in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Still, it is nice to see sunshine and the light and shadow play that comes with clouds passing through, showing glimpses of what may yet be.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light play from the sun and moving clouds on a farm stead in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)


Singing Christmas Carols in Siouxland, Nora SD

8 Dec

Around Thanksgiving I attended a Christmas carol sing-a-long in a small community in South Dakota in Siouxland. In Nora, SD music enthusiast and Christmas lover Mike Pederson invites people to come to a former general store and share in the spirit of Christmas.

Mike performs on a pipe organ in the store which he has been doing for 28 years, and is accompanied by a violinist and the voices of people who travel near and far to join in song and celebration of Christmas. The last sing-a-longs will be occurring soon and a real treat, it’s worth a drive.

Mike Pederson plays a pipe organ that sits in the store during the Christmas sing-a-long at Nora, SD Sunday Nov. 26, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The Nora General Store in Nora, SD, sits along a state highway and is listed on the National Register of Historic, which occurred in 2007. A Christmas sing-a-long has taken place for 28 years at the Nora store, Sunday Nov. 26, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

It is fun to meet people and sing with them, even if your voice sounds better in your head than in real life, like my own. Christmas is a season for rejoicing and sharing and the comradery with happy faces and voices is amazing. Mike would love to have you stop by and join in the fun. However, get there very early, otherwise you might find yourself listening in through the open front doors on a pleasant day, and through the doors on a day with temps in the teens and snow on the ground.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

With the seating and standing room full inside the store, others stand around the front door for the Christmas sing-a-long to sing carols at Nora, SD Sunday Nov. 26, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)


Siouxland’s Small Towns, Burbank, SD

19 Aug

Coming back from a trip up to Vermillion, SD, I passed through a small South Dakota town called Burbank. Nothing like the California community the late night host and comedian Johnny Carson referred to in some of his dialogues. Burbank, like a lot of small communities, had a prosperous start. But as time passed, its need for growth wasn’t fulfilled as other communities surpassed it. And so it stands like many others as a reminder of past days. People still live there, but its glory has faded.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Nature in Siouxland, Rural South Dakota

8 Aug

Some days just don’t turn out as you expect sometimes, but then again, one should just enjoy the moment for what it is as to what you would like. I took a trip up to Vermillion, South Dakota today to eat a small restaurant that serves Asian food. It has a buffet that while small is always good and affordable. But today is the day that this restaurant is closed. So I had lunch at another place which serves good food, but I believe is a bit over priced for its offering.

That said, the drive up was gorgeous. Blue sky, white puffy clouds. I got a late start. I decided to continue being healthy and went to my gym then showered, talked with a neighbor and took off. I didn’t reach Vermillion until after 1 p.m. But focused on the lunch I didn’t stop to photograph any of the scenes on my way up with the light playing off corn tassels in the fields and the white clouds accentuating the blue sky. I did have my polarizer with me and thought the afternoon was going to be great for shooting photos.

After lunch, I squeezed off a few frames in the downtown area, then went for a walk around the surrounding neighborhoods, looking for a vantage point overlooking the Missouri River. And as I was walking, the clouds began moving in. The weather was changing and the overcast grey clouds was pushing away the white clouds and covering the blue and my plans went awry. The day didn’t become picture perfect as I had expected, but on my way home I didn’t feel the day a complete loss. One just never knows how something may turn out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City

Horses grazing in rural South Dakota Monday, August 8, 2016.       (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Horses grazing in rural South Dakota Monday, August 8, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History Tucked Away in Siouxland, Vermillion

10 Jul

No matter how many trips I make to a place, such as Vermillion, South Dakota, I always enjoy finding another little gem to explore. And I find such a gem in the place of the Austin-Whittemore House, located barely a block away the downtown area and from a couple of eateries that I frequent as often as I visit. The Austin-Whittemore House has on display items from the area that and historical pieces of Clay County, South Dakota. The day I visited the docent on duty was gracious enough to show visitors around and explain points of interest and point out various artifacts within the house that came from the community. During the visit, a gentleman stopped in to ask the docent about a particular item he had found and she asked him to contact an individual familiar to them both to look for clues as to what this item might be. She also photographed the item to do more sleuthing herself. That kind of passion for local historical knowledge I find greatly reassuring. It’s also nice to know more about a place when leaving that upon arriving.

And it will probably be time again to visit one of the eateries that I enjoy and hopefully the chance to find another gem.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

%d bloggers like this: