Tag Archives: travel

Enjoying a Small Town, Pisgah

12 Jun

A main street running through downtown Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am endlessly fascinated when visiting small towns in Siouxland. And am always surprised at what one might find in them, as well as the folk one meets. Walking around, taking my time, something students of mine for my Photo Safari classes know all too well, in good and inclement weather. Recently while in Pisgah the class met a couple who runs a bed and breakfast there. I had no idea.

A 104 year old former hotel is now the Loess Hills Bed and Breadfast located in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

They also have access to a small museum with local history. Class photos of people who graduated from the area in the 1930’s, although there are no longer any schools in the small community. The sleepy little town is a starting point for exploring the Loess Hills in western Iowa where hiking and meandering roads allow one to explore the countryside and surrounding area.

A photograph of 1932 graduates from the Pisgah High School that no longer exists hangs in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A photograph of 1938 graduates from the Pisgah High School that no longer exists hangs in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

David Chlupacek, left, shows visitors inside of a former barbershop and now museum that sits across from a 104 year old hotel, now the Loess Hills Bed and Breakfast he and his wife run in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s these meetings and a chance to learn about the a local area I always find fascinating, even with newly transplanted residents such as David Chlupacek and his wife, who have lived there maybe 10-12 years. Getting a sense of what was once a vibrant small town now a bit more quiet and circumspect about its future.

Photographs and other items are found in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

David Chlupacek, right, talks with a visitor standing in front of a former barbershop and now museum in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

A sometimes pass through point for an Iowa tradition of bike riding, RAGBRAI, where small communities grow into overnight metropolises. But not the day we visited. But because of the visitors headed to the Loess Hills State Park the town retains one decent eatery and a place to relax and enjoy small town America with lunch and a short rest before pursuing other places to visit.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Old Home Fill-er Up and “Keep on Truckin” Cafe was made famous in a song by C.W. McCall is located in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photographs hang in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Light and Shadow in Siouxland, Yankton, SD

10 Jun

The Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy a good light and shadow display no matter how fleeting or seemingly impossible it might appear to be. The interplay and ying and yang of the two opposites can create interesting images and on especially sunny days, the possibilities are endless.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Mead Cultural Education Center is undergoing a restoration before competing exhibits of the Dakota Territorial Museum and other historical artifacts under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The exterior of the Mead Cultural Education Center is graced with many columns that adorned architecture of the period. It formerly was a mental institution for women and now houses area historical content and the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Perspective in Siouxland, Little Sioux

8 Jun

Sometimes it truly is in the eye of the beholder when a person sees something it is very important in how they see something. Perspective gives an individual an “informed” viewpoint, no matter the subject. In photography I believe that is also true. And how one sees subjects to photograph juxtaposed to other elements included in the frame and can interest, or distract.

A ready field for a later in town harvest seen during a Spring Photo Safari outing in Little Sioux , Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

I found it interesting to find a field “in town” ready for planting. I need to go back to see if it is just a large garden, or a corn or soybean crop. Sunflowers would be a fun crop as well and add interest to a small community. Then again, some scenes only occur at certain points in the year as nature takes its course and winter progresses into spring, into summer and then fall. And in that it is up to the one seeing and recording what those scenes might be and of what interest they may hold to other viewers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spring blooms during a Spring Photo Safari outing in Little Sioux , Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying the Outdoors in Siouxland, Preparation Canyon State Park

6 Jun

Spring emerges after an Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources burn off recently seen during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Time spent outdoors is always time spent well I believe, barring the fact that it isn’t a blizzard or a -20 degrees temperature with 40 mph wind gusts. And there are many nice places in Siouxland to spend some outdoor time, like Preparation Canyon State Park situated in the Loess Hills area of western Iowa which runs from Sioux City down past Council Bluffs. The Dept. of Natural Resources gives this history of the park, “The 344 acre the park encompasses what was once the town of Preparation. In 1853, Charles B. Thompson broke from the Mormon wagon train to Utah after receiving a message from the “Spirit.” The Mormon leader and elder led 50 to 60 Mormon families to Kanesville, now Council Bluffs. Upon much searching, Thompson and a few select men chose the area called “Monona,” an Indian name meaning “Peaceful Valley.” Here they organized the town of Preparation, complete with houses and schools and started Monona County’s first newspaper which Thompson owned and operated.”

On a recent class outing for my Spring Photo Safari class through a Lifelong Learning program at Western Iowa Tech Community College we spent some time at the overlook, as the actual park with camping sites is down the road maybe 2-3 miles. And not far from here also is a cemetery of early pioneers as well as more recent local residents interred in a bucolic setting with the wind creating a concert of sound along with chirping birds.

A quiet spring day during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was only a week or two earlier that the DNR had done a controlled burn in early spring which I believe is a yearly occurrence. The area had rebounded and spring green was gradually coming to life giving the area a fresh face for another outdoor season, well, an outdoor season that doesn’t include trudging through snow.

A ridge line trail taken during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Spring emerges after an early burn off by Iowa’s Dept. of Natural Resources seen during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is a nice trail that leads out from the overlook into the adjoining area that is not overly difficult and gets one into the pastoral setting, giving a visitor a chance to explore and see what is over the next hill and dale without going to far off the beaten path and after some exertion, a chance to return to the overlook, rest, and then continue the journey through the Loess Hills and the chance to find other places to explore and ponder what it must have been like for the early settlers in the later 1850’s as some made their way west and others settled into the area to begin life anew.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Hiking a trail for a better photo perspective during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Pausing to enjoy a nice day outside during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

History Around Siouxland, the Squirrel Cage Jail, Council Bluffs

31 May

The former jail for Pottawatamie County and now a museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Unique history tidbits can be found in Council Bluffs, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are always bits of oddities of sorts in history. And probably more that will become history as today fades into yesterday. But in Siouxland one such interesting footnote is a former jail in Council Bluffs. The Squirrel Cage Jail. It is found in a small museum in the downtown area and it was only one of 18 ever built and only three now remain, all museums. I have never timed my excursion to that community allowing me an opportunity to take a look inside, but I feel I need to. The jail cells revolved and allowed the insertion and extraction of prisoners from one point of entry and the cells revolved like using a “lazy Susan” situated on a kitchen table.

A horse statue recalling law enforcement history sits near the old county jail in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The downtown area is an interesting site to visit and also contains a nice park downtown and is a pleasant walk with various restaurants tucked away. The community in its early days also had its own Hay Market used by local farmers and ranchers. Not far from the downtown area and the jail museum is the Dodge House, a museum of one General Grenville M. Dodge who served the Union Army during the Civil War and later became a builder of railroad lines heading West.

A walkway leading to General Dodge’ House museum near the downtown area in Council Bluffs, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is situated in a historic district that still retains brick stone streets and many flowering trees along the boulevards. a very pleasant walk on a spring day or any day unless the temps are soaring into the 90’s with 80% humidity. But then that is just an excuse to find an ice cream shop and cool off and enjoy the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Trees are blossoming during a spring day in a historic district near downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning more about the Loess Hills in Siouxland, Pisgah

27 May

 

The Loess Hills State Forest Visitors center gives people a background about the Loess Hills is found in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Part of Siouxland is comprised of the Loess Hills which begins just south of Sioux City and runs down into Missouri. A Loess Hills State Forest Visitors Center is located in the small community of Pisgah and gives a great background about the surrounding area and information about the Loess Hills.

A scale model of Preparation Canyon State Park is found in the Loess Hills State Forest Visitors center in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors can learn more about the Loess Hills at the Loess Hills Sate Forest Visitors Center in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Within the state park there is a camp ground and an overlook not that far away. And trails can lead visitors through the area to enjoy the outdoors and experience a phenomenon that is only found in Iowa and a part of China. Plus getting the chance to enjoy the outdoors on a nice day by yourself or with friends and communing with nature, which is something we all should probably embrace.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Loess Hills State Forest Visitors Center gives a background about the Loess Hills is found in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring the Past in Siouxland, Mead Cultural Education Center, Yankton, SD

21 May

The Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring history in Siouxland can be a fun exercise and the chance to learn about the region and see something I have not encountered previously. Recently I visited the Mead Cultural Education Center with some photography students from a Lifelong Learning class. It’s a grand old building and previously as an asylum for women who were considered insane and whose families did not want them living at home.

A grand marble staircase greets visitors as they enter the Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, which now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Mead Cultural Education Center was a former women’s mental institution and will now house the Dakota Territorial Museum and other historical artifacts after a renovation under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Yankton County Historical Society is housed in the facility and plans over a period of time will include a number of historical exhibits about the area including the Dakota Territorial Museum that was located in another area of Yankton.

Currently an exhibit of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is up and running with a fairly extensive look at that group’s trip through the local area.

The Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, showcases the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, showcases the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in a unique way and also houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Some displays with area history is set up on the ground floor of he Mead Cultural Education Center, a former women’s mental institution and will house the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Some displays with area history is set up on the ground floor of he Mead Cultural Education Center, a former women’s mental institution and will house the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But while the class was there the group got a look in yet unfinished areas where future exhibits will be showcased and other offices housing various local organizations will be located as well as seeing some stored historical items waiting for space to be displayed.

Camille Swift, office manager for the Mead Cultural Education Center, gets animated as she gives some background during a short tour. The center also now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Camille Swift, office manager for the Mead Cultural Education Center, standing in background, gives a historical account and describes the restoration of the building during a short tour. The center also houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Camille Swift, office manager for the Mead Cultural Education Center, not seen, gives background context and describes the current restoration project underway during a short tour. The center also houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Records and other historical artifacts are stored in rooms as the Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women undergoes a restoration under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Once completed the Education Center will give a nice look into the history of the area and Yankton’s role in the history of the Dakota Territories. Yankton was the first territorial government seat when the Territories were settled but then later lost out to Pierre. It will be easy to spend a few hours learning about the past and in a space that has found new purpose for the future.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

 

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