Tag Archives: travel

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©)

The Waning Days of Fall in Siouxland, rural Monona and Woodbury Counties

15 Nov
Cattle graze in a field under colorful fall foliage outside Smithland, Iowa in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the first winter snow and possible snow to begin creeping into the area accompanied by high winds, I don’t expect many of the leaves and any fall color to be seen in a few days. Driving about Siouxland the last couple of weeks I have felt lucky to see find spots of changing fall foliage and the chance to take a few images. Like many folk, I enjoy fall and it was one of the reasons for returning to the Midwest after having worked and lived in other parts of the U.S. Winter will come, but it will also pass. One only hoped it passes sooner that later. Mild winters are nice, if temps remain in the 20’s and 30’s without below freezing wind gusts and sustained cold spells. Being out on days like that is not so enjoyable even if one likes winter.

An iron trestle bridge frames a gravel road as some fall color is seen in a yet to be harvested corn field in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Country backroads and changing autumnal colors in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about the backroads and country roads are a joy to me. Have always been. No matter where I lived I always seemed to find country roads to drive about on and a chance to get away from the noise that sometimes daily life brings. These days maybe a little more jazz than classical music on the car radio that gives my mind a chance to wander as I drive around and just look, not really knowing what to expect over the next hill or around the next bend. Small surprises and joy when an image pops up and I am there to record it. Most times, if ever, award winning, but satisfying none the less and pleasing to me. Sometimes simple joys are the best.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Trees with colorful foliage near a harvested soybean field in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 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©)

Enjoying a Small Town’s Fame in Siouxland, Sac City

6 Sep
A visitor checks out the world’s largest popcorn ball in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While driving about Siouxland I always enjoy learning more about the bits and pieces of history in the many small towns in the region. The fame of the world’s largest popcorn ball is something I had been aware of but have never investigated until recently. And it was fun to see this “marvel” before going on to experience a firework fail while learning something new about my camera.

A pictorially recorded history of the making of the world’s largest popcorn ball at the site of the ball in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The world’s largest popcorn ball created in 2016 and on display in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are probably some who will challenge this small town’s claim to fame but that is the thing about claims and records. Someone is always will to challenge the and outperform those who previously completed that challenge. Which is all good, because it gives folk a reason to explore an area and see what bits and pieces of history are tucked away, forgotten maybe, except for those who remember or live nearby. And such visits make nice memories for family outings and road trips and the change to tell others that “I was there”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The world’s largest popcorn ball created in 2016 and on display in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 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©)

Hanging out with Mom in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

25 Aug
A baby spider monkey hangs on to its mother while she walks about looking for food in its enclosure after staff recently fed the animals at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Venturing out in Siouxland has been nice even though there are still COVID concerns and one of the places I do enjoy visiting is the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE. The zoo is continually updating its facilities, which sometimes can be compared to highway construction, but it’s all good in that areas for the animals keep enlarging and to the extent possible mimicking the area of the world these creatures ancestry hails from. Learning recently that some of the creatures are rescue animals and others from already existing zoos. Plus walking about outdoors is pleasant even in the August heat and humidity that the Midwest produces.

A baby spider monkey snacks as it hangs on to its mother as she moves about the enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A baby spider monkey hangs on to its mother as she moves about the enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching a baby spider monkey cling to its mother’s back while she moved about the island the animals are kept on was simply amazing to watch. Its own tail curled around the mother’s as she climbed, swung, moving in all directions, especially when handlers brought food to the animals for a morning meal. Observing and watching behavior is always fascinating to me. And just a chance to get out, stretch one’s legs and enjoy the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A baby spider monkey looks about as its mother moves about the enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A baby spider monkey hangs on to its mother as she moves about the enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Fireworks Fail in Siouxland, Sac City

21 Aug
An experiment in creating an image with the Olympus camera system in downtown Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I think I have seen it written that photography, like a lot of mediums, is part science and part art. One has more strict parameters the other more nuance in achieving results. And the author John Steinbeck put it succinctly, “The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry.”

So it did one evening in Siouxland as I and a friend set out to photograph fireworks in Sac City at the Sac County fair’s last night. The weather was not extremely hot with a light breeze. We arrived early and scouted the fairground where the fireworks would be set off and then found a rise just outside of the downtown area that might provide a nice foreground with the fireworks exploding overhead.

Downtown Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An attempt in photographing fireworks on the last night of the Sac County fair in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An attempt in photographing fireworks on the last night of the Sac County fair in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But sometimes one’s plans just don’t work out. The fairgrounds seem to sit in a bit of a valley and area behind it and downtown is on a bit of a rise. So when the fireworks began, one could hear the booms and see some white drifting up, but no light from the explosions. After waiting 1.5 hours for this moment, I realized from our position we weren’t going to see the fireworks. So picking up camera and tripod and hustling a couple of blocks I was able to capture some of the night sky explosions and also understand the camera program I was trying for the first time. But I didn’t really capture or photograph any of what I thought might be a dynamic image.

As has been said, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Sigh. Next year?

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An attempt in photographing fireworks on the last night of the Sac County fair in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An attempt in photographing fireworks on the last night of the Sac County fair in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Art in Siouxland, of Any Kind, Joslyn Museum, Omaha, NE

15 Aug
One of several vintage vehicles on display by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy viewing art in Siouxland, any kind of art. I might not always agree with what I see or “truly appreciate” it, but not everyone sees the same way, nor should they. The Joslyn Museum in Omaha recently hosted a Model A Frod car club celebrating its exhibit of an art deco show inside. Making a trip with some friends who might be car aficionados or otherwise “car nuts”, I didn’t get to see the inside exhibit, but did enjoy the car show and the beauty of these early American classics.

A man photographs his wife inside one of the vehicles on display by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
People look over some vintage cars on display by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Family photos at a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And the current owners care of these vehicles represent a certain aspect of America’s past both in form and function. Listening to an owner talk about the narrow tire the earlier model vehicles had was because they were driven down the same “paths” that wagon trains and other early modes of transportation used and the tires would fit in those wagon path. Later, as roads were constructed to accommodate motorized wheeled transportation the paths or roadways became wider and the tire width for the next generation of vehicles also became wider.

A woman tries to get her son interested in a selfie at a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
People attend a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A vintage vehicle on display by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Joslyn Museum hosted a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club in honor of an Art Deco exhibit now on display in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the temperature rising once again and the humidity levels with it, maybe this next trip should be an indoor discovery of art deco and how that architectural art form was prevalent through out the American landscape.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People attend a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Joslyn Museum hosted a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club in honor of an Art Deco exhibit now on display in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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