Between the Bylines

A memorable excursion


I recently spent some time at the Harrison County Historical Village and Iowa Welcome Center between Missouri Valley and Logan on Highway 30.

While I had been there before, I had never taken in all the museum has to offer. With all of the buildings on-site unlocked for me, including the schoolhouse, log cabin and general store, I set out to find the correct mixture of work and play that I often do in such situations.

With my handy-dandy camera out, I was soon captivated by the paintings of Preston Niles that can be seen on several walls around the village. I had heard the name before and knew that he was the founder and director of the welcome center (serving in that capacity from 1938-1969), but I did not know what an incredible artist he was.

With some paintings of long-forgotten sites from around the area and some re-imaginings of what life was like in the 1800s, Niles artwork added the perfect flair to an already interesting tour. Both educational and pleasing to the eye, I took several photos of his work during my walk.

Passing away at the age of 94 in 1993, his resting place is the Rose Hill Memorial Gardens in Missouri Valley.

Art museums are some of my favorite places in the world. The Milwaukee Art Museum, positioned right on Lake Michigan and made possible by the wonderful architecture of Santiago Calatrava, was a very memorable trip I took a few years ago, and I was delighted to see that the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha will be reopening in the fall, as I still haven't had the opportunity to check it out since moving there.

As someone who loves both historical villages and some great artwork, the welcome center blended the two together and made for a very enjoyable time.

Now I will take the opportunity to promote my hometown. As a native of northern Iowa who grew up with family in both Mason City and Clear Lake, please make a stop at Kinney Pioneer Museum if you are ever in the area and like historical villages such as the one in Harrison County.

Although I didn't experience those times myself, the memories kept alive by those who came before still makes it feel like a “walk down memory lane” to me.