Tag Archives: smithland iowa

Exploring Siouxland not for the Faint of Heart, Smithland

16 May

When I find places I like to use for my Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class I teach at Western Iowa Tech I like to explore the places in Siouxland prior to bringing students there. And exploring places to photograph to me is have the fun. I generally try to find places that as a class we can walk around and explore for a couple hours. On a last outing recently in Vermillion, SD, one of my students mentioned that we had walked quite a bit this particular day. I did say that the class description does mention having comfortable shoes to wear in signing up for the class. He laughed.

When photographing and getting to know a place I find it difficult to see things if I am just driving about. Now I do that when cruising back roads in the country, but in a lot of small communities I find a place to walk and then explore. I don’t exercise as much as I used to when my knees were a little better, but walking out, unless it’s a tornado or blizzard, is doable in any type of weather. And again, what’s a better way to spend a day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Hanging onto History in Siouxland, Smithland

12 Sep

In the last few weeks I visited a small museum in Smithland, Iowa that I have driven past the log cabin museum a number of years. It was never open when I happened to be passing through, and although I wrote down a phone number off a sign, I remembered never to call. Until finally I did. And what a pleasant and yet, sad surprise. Pleasant because they are so many “treasures” and historical artifacts located in this small museum which is a replica of an earlier school built by the founder of the community, O.B. Smith. Sad because there is only one person, Katherine Mack, who is manning the “fort” and trying to keep the museum operating, functioning and a source of local pride and history.

I sat down with Katherine and talked with her and put together a short video piece hoping it my find her some help through other locals or individuals wanting to preserve area history. But for all the daunting aspects of what Katherine faces, she is full of energy and hope, and I believe will succeed in her quest to keep the museum open and available to those who want to learn more about Smithland and the surrounding area.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland Iowa scenics

29 Jul

Growing up on a farm and living in a rural area of Illinois, the scenery is not much different than what you may find in western Iowa, or southeastern South Dakota or northeastern Nebraska. Farm land, and lots of it. Rolling hills in this area currently resplendent with corn and bean fields, at least those areas not seriously affected by the current drought conditions. And sitting among these acres of farm land are those wooden barn structures that have been used for hundreds of years, but are slowly disappearing in some areas as more economical steel structures replace them. I have always liked photographing the country side, and those old, weathered barns and other buildings that give a sense of nostalgia to what the rural agricultural area was once. But there are fewer of them now. As farms grow in size to compete with multi national companies that own large farms themselves, the barns are falling apart, not cared for, not needed in this faster paced, get it done modern world we now live in. From time to time I will be posting images of scenics throughout the Siouxland area that I come across, for those nostalgic reasons and because I personally find them beautiful to look at, and holding remnants of the past from which this country grew. More work can be found here.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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