Tag Archives: small towns

Celebrating Labor Day in Siouxland, Hawarden

26 Sep

An Iowa Army National Guard Honor Flag unit lead as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Labor Day in Siouxland and the rest of the U.S. is the holiday that basically says summer is over and fall is beginning with everything else to follow. It’s the time to celebrate the working men and women that make an economy thrive. Most small towns celebrate Labor Day in one way or another. Hawarden does so each year with a parade.

A grain elevator anchors one end of down town as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The West Sioux High School football team rides in the parade and is a combination of Hawarden, Ireton and Chatsworth communities that consolidated their school resources. Residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the West Sioux High School cheer team rides in the parade and is a combination of Hawarden, Ireton and Chatsworth communities that consolidated their school resources. Residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The small town community celebrates its small town atmosphere. A number of floats contain local town folk, young and older. And the streets are lined from downtown out to a city park with food booths and other entertainment. Probably mild by larger city standards, the parade is enjoyed by the community residents and a chance to relax before life becomes more hectic as schools once again are up and running after the summer break and farmers anticipate their fall crop harvest normally started in October and November, depending on the crop growing season.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sioux County Youth Fair royalty, princess KAIE PLENDL, left, queen OLIVIA FEDDERS, center and Little Miss Sioux County BREA LEUSINK, ride a float as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Always a favorite as small town parades the Abu Bekr Shrine Rat Patrol perform precision driving along the parade route as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young boys points out the large tractor and grain wagon as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Mariachi band performs along the parade route as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Graduating class members of 1972 from West Sioux High School participate in the parade as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting the Departed in Siouxland, Hancock Township Cemetery, rural Plymouth County

21 Aug

A headstone from the late 1800’s at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I continue to drive about Siouxland I continue to find locations with older cemeteries, many with grave sites of those departed who probably first settled the area, or arrived shortly thereafter. Many of these resting places also have “current” residents recently departed in the last few years.

A former family burial plot with missing headstones at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two guests check out a headstone from the late 1800’s at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A caretaker I met while visiting told me that upon his last visit it seems that some headstones are missing from certain graves which is sad. He speculated that maybe a visiting relative took them with them but it leaves the grave(s) unmarked and visitors without knowing who may laying this peaceful conclave of residents. I always find that even if I do not know any of the occupants of the cemetery, I have no less respect for those who have gone before and seen this area and countryside when it was first settled by white settlers. I imagine that many a Native American had passed through living their lives as hunter/gatherers and may have traveled an extensive area of Siouxland looking for sustenance from their Creator while living off the land.

Cemeteries by their very nature are peaceful places which is one reason I like to visit them. The occupants hold no judgement of those visiting, and I no judgement of those departed. Just a quiet time to think, contemplate and wish there was more peace in the world.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A grave stone from the late 1800’s at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A broken head stone at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Newer grave sites at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many early burial sites in rural areas had trees planted around the headstones to shade the departed seen at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A view of the surrounding rural countryside at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Passing Through Siouxland while Blinking, Westfield

17 Aug

A flower planter at a park in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A lot of times when I am driving about Siouxland it tends to be doing the week and most times there are not a lot of people about. Sometimes when attending an event in a small town there will be more folk. But I enjoy seeing what architecture is still in place and it always makes me wonder how a community has changed through the years, most always thriving at first with the railroad passing through or nearby and then slowly evolving and changing over the decades, century as life and work revolves less around agriculture and small towns and more about industrialization and larger cities.

A former hardware store in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A view of downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A former gas pump decorates the outside of a bar and grill in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Westfield has been in existence for a long time but searching online doesn’t net one a lot of information. Like so many smaller communities it seems a quiet place to live and come home to away from a busier world outside of the community. Although some necessities may seem lacking, one would guess the residents are content and enjoy the quiet and solitude they have come to embrace.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An antique agricultural implement at a park in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A former U.S. Post Office in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A former business gets a make over in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

City hall in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Spring Colors in Siouxland, Alton

6 Apr
Spring color in downtown Alton, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ah Spring, a slow arrival here in Siouxland. Temperatures overnight still hover in the 30’s. And a brisk prairie wind makes it feel even chillier. So finding spring color in the area while the trees are still bare and the landscape brown, can be challenging.

Spring color in downtown Alton, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring color in downtown Alton, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The small community of Alton though has spruced up some of its buildings, “splashing” color onto walls to brighten the downtown area. It does make it a bit more cheerful on a blustery, albeit, sunny day. Like many others, I look forward to getting out and visiting places and enjoying balmy days in the 40’s and 50’s. Temperature in the 60’s would be nice, but I can be patient. Some color I did find was reminiscent of the passing winter, but sometimes one just move forward, and not dwell.

Maybe May flowers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An orange snow plow adds color to the downtown area of Alton, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring color in downtown Alton, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (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©)

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©)

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©)
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