Swinging Bridges and Small Town Romance

31 Dec


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Having grown up in the mid-western state of Missouri, I always have a small spot in my heart reserved for the local, small town.  My mother’s family comes from the Hannibal, MO area, home of prolific author Mark Twain and the Mark Twain Dinette‘s Frosty Mug Root Beer.  As a lover of root beer, and having tried out about every kind I stumble across, I can proudly say that this Frosty Mug Root Beer is still a favorite.  🙂

However, I never actually visited the state of Iowa until I decided to join the University of Iowa’s student body.  So recently, when my mother was visiting some local towns, I decided to tag along.  As expected, I fell in love with the mid-west all over again.

Crisscrossed by various creeks and rivers (including one Skunk River which begs the question of why “Skunk”–was there a particularly stinky skunk nearby or was there somehow a family of skunks?!?), Iowa is a beautiful place filled with farms, rolling plains, and the river bluffs.  I managed to get a few pictures and I thought I would share this one of an awesome swinging bridge in Columbus Junction, IA.   It’s a wonderful place to visit, definitely great for photographers in any season!  I took some more photos I’ll upload to my photo gallery and to this post tomorrow or Sunday when my Internet connection is better.  But in the meantime, how cool is this bridge?!?

Addendum–> Finally, my connection is better.  Here are some of the pictures I took!  I apologize for the quality, but the sights were too beautiful not to share. The history available in these small towns is truly fascinating.  Although many people seem to be of the opinion that the Midwest is filled with uneducated hicks from the back of beyond (one girl actually thought I ate raccoon and tried to explain what a lobster was since “you probably haven’t heard of those before since they don’t have anything similar in that sort of place“–obviously she has never heard of “Red Lobster”), the Midwest is actually  highly cultured.

Originally, the area was settled by European descendants  (Scottish, Irish, German, Dutch, Danes, Swedes, Czechs, French, Spanish, etc.) as they pushed moved west and settled the farmable lands.  Then as the Civil War came and went, many mid-western states became the “border states”–those that stood between the North and the South and that were central to much of the fighting.   When the war passed by, many soldiers remained and soon the flood of newly-freed  African Americans heading north brought new settlers into the local towns and cities.  Soon, more people flowed in from Latin American, Mexico, Africa, and Asia until the Midwest became the ultimate melting pot.  In many towns, you can still attend a Spanish church service in an Irish Catholic church next door to a Scottish Presbyterian church, and you will pass some Amish buggies on the way home to a predominantly Swedish town.

Because the land is full of rich possibilities for farming, cattle-grazing, mining, forestry, hunting, and movement by ship, a large amount of the United State’s production (particularly in regards to minerals and food products) was established in the area.  For more than a century, Chicago, IL stood as the center of product transportation.  Since the Mississippi River crosses the nation from North to South, it offered an excellent method of transportation in the decades before railroad transportation sufficiently developed.  During the fall, you can still watch the barges filled with grain move up and down, as well as the coal-filled trains moving out with shipments.  The land is beautiful, and the history diverse.  Visit a small town, and you will can find some remnant of history from nearly every decade since the land was first settled.  From the original farmhouses to the local manors, historic buildings line the streets.  Many towns still maintain the carriage-sized streets and the brick-lined roads.  The old storefronts are often well-maintained and still kept in use.  Visit the local museum or courthouse and you will see pictures from the Dust Bowl, the Flapper era, the Civil War and each war since, and the POW and US flags flying high and proud.  You will see farm tools dating back to times before the cotton gin and hoop skirts kept up since the days of southern belles.  The Midwest is truly a lovely place to visit, and none of my pictures will ever do it justice.

Sigh, so many beautiful sights, so little camera battery left!  I’ll upload more pics to my photo gallery too.

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