Tag Archives: western iowa

Continuing Drought in Siouxland Creates Wetless Wetlands, Wilson Island State Recreation Area, Missouri Valley

19 Nov

A Lesser Yellowlegs snatched a meal in a pond at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The last couple of years or so, the Siouxland region like other places in and around the midwest and other states has been dealing with drought conditions. Little rainfall during that normal season or snowfall during the winter months. Areas that should have water now does not, and slowly the lack of water will affect all, humans and animals in nature.

I have driven past a sign on a local interstate highway for years, one for Wilson Island State Recreational Area. I understand from some friends that it used to be a wonderful place to camp and spend time. A major flood in 2011 inundated the recreation area and killed many of the trees and irreparably damaged the site, as the flood did to other areas in the region as well.

Just a few lily pads remain in a dry pond at the Wilson Island State Creation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Barren trees seen at the Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For the longest time the park was closed. For years it seemed as clean up work apparently was slow going with the removal of dead trees and restoring of camping areas after the flood water eventually receded. I visited the park while in the vicinity of DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge. With the current drought conditions, shore birds and other life in nature is struggling to find needed food sources that have since dried up or changed from previous years. And some signs seen in the park appear absurd considering the current conditions.

Apparently a Lesser Yellowlegs looking for bugs in a pond didn’t read the sign at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Lesser Yellowlegs looks for a meal in a pond at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A dry pond bed is all that is left at the Wilson Island State Recreation Area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With winter seemingly coming earlier this year by indications of recent temperature changes and snow and rain storms passing across the U.S. maybe the drought conditions will be dented. But the Siouxland region is almost 14 inches below normal for annual rainfall. And so moisture is needed to replace what is disappearing and which will eventually affect controlled plant farming as water is needed for growing corn and soybeans and other agriculture crops.

I do hope it snows this winter, and also hope the frigid temperatures below freezing and those well below zero with wind chill take a year off. Snowshoeing and being outdoors in the winter time is not so bad. But feeling 20-30 mile an hour wind on your face with temperatures reaching -20 and -30 degrees is not so much fun.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A small a pond of water is all that is seen at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Barely a trickle of water seen in a pond at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National WIldlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Big Wheels Keep on Turning in Siouxland, Big Boy Engine passes through Woodbine

9 Aug

Onlookers gather at a crossing outside of Woodbine, Iowa as the Union Pacific’s steam locomotive No. 4014, Big Boy, heads back west on its rail system Friday, August 2, 2019. The engine stopped in the community for onlookers for roughly 45 minutes as it continues its journey home to Cheyenne, WY after leaving Illinois July 8. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One of Union Pacific Railroad’s heritage engines passed through western Iowa recently for a return trip home. Two weeks earlier this behemoth of steam locomotives, Engine 4014, otherwise known as Big Boy, made a trip from Wyoming to Illinois, and then some side excursions.

Big Boy is one of a few heavy duty articulated steam locomotives created during WWII to move freight and other necessities across the country and especially over the mountain ranges because most able bodied men were fighting overseas. The massive locomotive got a nice reception in Woodbine, Iowa recently as it was returning to Wyoming where it’s excursion journey began early this summer.

Onlookers and train enthusiasts gather for a close up view in Woodbine, Iowa of the Union Pacific’s steam locomotive No. 4014, Big Boy, heads back west on its rail system Friday, August 2, 2019. The engine stopped for onlookers for roughly 45 minutes as it continues its journey home to Cheyenne, WY after leaving Illinois July 8. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Onlookers and train enthusiasts get a close up view and take photographs in Woodbine, Iowa of the Union Pacific’s steam locomotive No. 4014, Big Boy, as it heads back west on its rail system Friday, August 2, 2019. The engine stopped for onlookers for roughly 45 minutes as it continues its journey home to Cheyenne, WY after leaving Illinois July 8. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Big Boy took two years for a complete restoration and is one of a few restored steam engines now part of a Union Pacific Heritage locomotive fleet. Articulated steam locomotives have two sets of drivers or complete engine units with eight wheel sets total. The front set of driving wheels, referred to as the front engine, can move independently from the locomotive’s permanently attached boiler and rear engine. This allows the locomotive to better negotiate curves.

Young onlookers cover their ears as the Union Pacific’s steam locomotive No. 4014, Big Boy, heads back west on its rail system passing through Woodbine, Iowa Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Union Pacific’s steam locomotive No. 4014, Big Boy, heads back west on its rail system passing through Woodbine, Iowa Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is a wonderful museum in Council Bluffs that is all things Union Pacific Railroad, no ties though to the company. It backgrounds the building of the rail system filling in a lot of minute details about the journey west and what life was like traveling by rail. Today with automobiles and planes, trains are not looked upon as favorably as it still takes longer than flying. But seeing such a large engine up close was a bit surreal. Can’t imagine what it was like for those who traveled by rail accompanying the engine as it passed through the countryside. And it was surprising and pleasing to see that many folk are still enthralled by trains themselves and that way of travel. Depending on one’s point of view, progress is in the eye of the beholder.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Current and retired Union Pacific employees photograph from a hillside the steam locomotive No. 4014, Big Boy, as it heads back west on its rail system passing through Woodbine, Iowa Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Steam rises from the Union Pacific’s steam locomotive No. 4014, Big Boy, as it heads back west on its rail system passing through Woodbine, Iowa Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Onlookers and train enthusiasts gather in Woodbine, Iowa to get a close up view of the Union Pacific’s steam locomotive No. 4014, Big Boy, as it heads back west on its rail system Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring still eludes Siouxland, Sioux City

4 May

It seems the spring season is still eluding the Siouxland area. Last week there were a couple days Sioux City and the surrounding areas hit the 80’s. It’s like we’re zipping past spring and right into summer. A little warm for my taste this early, but the sun felt nice and my plants enjoyed a burst of growth. Then the cold weather comes back, rain, sleet, some snow flakes and it makes one wonder will spring arrive or bypass Siouxland this year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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