Tag Archives: travel

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©)

A Slow Day in Siouxland, Omaha, NE

11 Aug
Music fans line up and wait for a store to open to buy newly released vinyl records in Old Market in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while visiting places in Siouxland I like to slow down, maybe show up early and enjoy what unfolds. A recent trip to Omaha, NE and the Old Market place I and some friends arrived before the shops opened and it was interesting to see the place come to life as opposed to getting there midday or even afternoon.

Not all early morning visitors looking for a snack are from out of town seen in Old Market in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Music fans line up and wait for a store to open to buy newly released vinyl records in Old Market in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing folk line up to buy “new vinyl” as I can remember from the 1970’s at a music shop and store fronts opening and tourists looking to take photographs to remind them of their visit.

Sometimes local law enforcement are called on to perform tedious tasks while on duty, not unlike the Beef Easters in England, seen in Old Market in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some shops are more memorable than others depending on what interests you. One in particular is a Christmas shop that has so many ornaments and baubles available for purchase that it’s every kid’s dream store, young and old. But being it’s early, another trip will be needed to enjoy the wares.

But I enjoy the visuals. The colors, the atmosphere and ambiance. A slow pace to watch and listen and relax.

Colorful displays are found in Old Market in Omaha, NESaturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Colorful displays are found in Old Market in Omaha, NESaturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Colorful displays are found in Old Market in Omaha, NESaturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And not being a local, it was fun to chat with some business owners. See how they fared this past year and whether life was returning to the area in a good way. Hoping that another surge of the virus may not happen, but am not holding my breath. Too many believe the naysayers about the disease and what is being said. Throwing caution to the wind, and whatever else in the hopes that some folk are wrong.

In the meantime, enjoy one day at a time and see what comes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A novelty shop with unique items for sale in Old Market in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A woman walks by a novelty shop with unique items for sale in Old Market in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A novelty shop with unique items for sale in Old Market in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 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©)

Exploring Siouxland, Lyons, NE

30 Jul
Signage informs a visitor they are in Lyons, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021, which was founded in 1880 by one Waldo Lyons. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about Siouxland gives one a sense of history as many of the smaller communities were founded in the latter part of the 1800’s driven by expansion west from families seeking a new life and the advent of the railroad crossing the country. Lyons, NE was founded in 1880 by one Waldo Lyons according to one online site. Another site those has the beginnings of Lyon starting much earlier by two brothers from Wisconsin who served in the Union army and relocated to Nebraska after the civil war. The website gives a brief history of Lyons from its inception until 1929.

A “towncrier billboard” is set in the middle of a 4-way intersection in Lyons, NE with notices posted for residents and visitors seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A modest city hall seen in Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Trying to fight out information about smaller communities throughout Siouxland is not always easy. Documentation is not always readily available and sometimes just a few are informed only because it’s of personal interest, possibly family history intertwined with the place they are seeking information about. The population of the community today, or from the latest census data is about 800 people.

Downtown Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Brick streets are still found in the downtown area of Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Artifacts in a window in downtown Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many times when I am passing through or stopping in a community may not be ideal in finding local residents to chat with, or even those that might know the history of where they are living. The past is not always present on our minds during the day to day hustle and bustle we all find ourselves involved in.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Burlington Park is located near the main street running through Lyons, NE and pays homage to the history the railroad played in the community’s past, seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Grand Architecture in Siouxland, Louis E May Museum, Fremont, NE

26 Jul
A grand estate, the Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I continue driving about Siouxland I surprise myself at finding unexpected pleasures like the Louis E. May Historical Museum in Fremont, NE.

Sadly, the museum is currently closed because of the pandemic, but am hoping it might be reopening this coming fall for a chance to see the interior of the former home.

The Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was difficult to find much information about the history of the museum and former home online. With just a brief mention about it on two official sites:

The home was built in the Italianate Revival style by Fremont’s first mayor, Theron Nye, in 1874. Nye’s son inherited the home in 1900 and remodeled the home from 1901 through 1912. The current style of the home is Georgian or Classical Revival and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is art of the Dodge County’s Historical Society. The home’s grounds are a Nebraska Arboretum Site, a grassroots membership-based nonprofit that believes environments matter and provide a better sense of place and social interactions as well as improving one’s health.

Another blogger wrote about the historical house in 2013 after a visit. I look forward to actually touring it when it reopens.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021 was originally built in 1874 by Fremont’s first mayor, Theron Nye. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021, has a perennial Victorian garden and a rose garden on the grounds. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Built in 1874 by Fremont, NE’s first mayor, Theron Nye, the Louis E. May Historical Museum is now listed with the National Register of Historic Places seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Geometric Lines in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

16 Jul
Geometric shadow lines at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when visiting places in and around Siouxland I default to shooting in B&W. It’s what I started with and used for photography, personal and professionally for many years. Even though scenes are in color, unless one is color blind, I see some scenes in black and white. And it took a while to understand the color of objects and how each color or variation there of was rendered in a shade of grey.

Light and shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And depending on the subject one might also be able to utilize whatever texture is found in the scene to add one more visual element. Black and white can create a simplicity when photographing. Geometric lines and shapes, tonality, gradations. The use of Ansel Adams Zone System. Ten steps of gradation from black without detail to white without detail. At least that was how I was taught. Something though I haven’t critically thought about in a decade or two, but still aware of it and it figures into my thought process when shooting and working on black and white images.

Geometric shadow lines at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Then one can let the imagination take over and pursue visual imagery that engages oneself, focusing only on capturing what will translate the what is seen. Then photography becomes fun.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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