With all of my interaction in the community, while taking pictures of events and activities, I take the time to just listen and observe what people say.
Recently I took a group picture of the MHS class of 1963 reunion.
As I listened to various members of the class visiting (the ones who had moved away after graduation) with each other I heard a common theme talked about by most every former member of this community - that they are amazed at how this community continues to take care of itself and has been able to maintain the quality of life and even expand here and there.
Some of them talked about how they drove around to other communities in the area within a half an hour to hour and how Manning compares - which is that so many of those other communities have been hurt by the rural flight and drastically changing rural economy but not in Manning.

Now as I said, this is not a hit and miss comment I hear but what I have been hearing for several decades and not only by former Manning residents but also many first time visitors.

Below are some pictures that show why people are saying these positive comments and these pictures show the behind the scenes work it takes to maintain the community and also improve upon it...

MHS 1963 reunion
Back: Ralph Dobler, Fred Gruhn, Curtis Jansen, Dave Souter, Pat Callender, Pat Knueven, Larry Fischer, Gary Gruhn, Kenard Carstens, Dick Hill
Middle: Lyle Bald, Gene Wycoff, Carolyn Pratt, Marcia Friedrichsen, Vergene Reinke
First: Carolyn Ward, Donna Antone, Sandra McGrath, Diane Dammann, Diane Eischeid, Norma Ahrendsen, Joy Hansen

So many organizations have been hurt by the rural flight and changing rural economy over the decades.
This reunion was held in the Manning VFW hall.
Manning also has an American Legion hall and members but both military groups are aging to a point that in a number of more years, they may not be able to continue on...not because there is a lack of patriotism but mostly because of the rural flight where many young Manning men and women go into the military service but are not able to return to their hometown because of lack of job opportunities, so these two organizations continue with their struggle to maintain an active membership.

This is not just these two groups that struggle but church organizations, civic organizations, and all volunteer groups in general have been slowly declining in numbers and ability to help maintain the quality of life here in Manning.

Fortunately over the last 10 years, we have had a mini baby-boom and influx of young couples moving back to Manning...to a point that the last census increased by 50 and the IKM-Manning school enrollment went up this year, after going down each year since the merging of the two school districts.

Many of these young people volunteer but with today's changing society, more effort and volunteerism will have to be provided by these "younger" generations if they want this community to maintain the quality of life it has had and also to continue with the ongoing improvements.


April 28, 2018 - Za-Ga-Zig Shrine Ladies from Altoona
In April, Sue (Rutz) Coon brought her group of shriner ladies to Manning to tour the Hausbarn and Heritage Park.
We now all too often take this park for granted.
I'm not going into all of the background of this park and the hundreds of volunteers who made it possible, but take a look back in time to see just a few highlights and then stop to think how this park did not just pop up overnight.

1996 dismantling in Germany
In 1988, a group in Manning was formed to follow through in finding and bringing a Hausbarn from Germany. In 1991, official funding began and then in 1996, the structure was dismantled and arrived in Manning by September.

June 6, 1997 groundbreaking

I hope some of the younger generations who are active in Manning now will take the time to go through this progression and stop to realize that many of them were not even born when this project began and that it many times takes years even a decade to take a project through fruition.

My comments are not meant to talk down to the younger generations or preach to them, but that they realize the society we live in today that demands INSTANT results and gratification is not reality when it comes to keeping a community going.


July 29, 1999 reassembly - south end where Sue's group picture was taken in 2018


July 31, 1999 Richtfest - north end


July 31 - Martin Peter Hansen with Art Rix

Martin was a volunteer who came from Germany to reconstruct the Hausbarn, so when you think about how you volunteer in the community - think about if you went to another country and volunteered there for several months. We can never repay people like Martin who had the expert skill and volunteered his time in this manner.

Art Rix passed away in 2010 at the age of 101...just think of all the history he lived through here in Manning. Art was also an active volunteer in Manning. Sadly, very few young people today even know of Art. This is why we need to preserve our history and the efforts of the people before us who built this community - otherwise we will fall further into self aggrandisement and take everything for granted.


Thatching the roof

Mathias Schüler and Stefan Krause - thatchers from Germany
As I look at these pictures I took, it humbles me to think of the history I was able to see as it took place and that I was able to participate in these events.
I haven't begun to see the amazing history that Art Rix saw and probably will never see the number of years of history in the making as he did but so glad to be a small part of it in Manning.

May 18, 2018

A group of school children from Denison toured the Heritage Park
Here you see Pastor Riggert and other park volunteers describing the history of the Trinity Church that was moved to Manning in 2006.

Tours, weddings, and all kinds of activities occur at the Heritage Park throughout the year.
I only have time to capture just a few of them but think if we did not have the Hausbarn or park...the church may have not been moved here...other events may not have come to fruition in the community and Manning might now be on a downward death spiral like so many other small rural communities.


Carroll County "Freedom Rock" also located in the Heritage Park
Some of you may remember this as the Willow Creek Park


Volunteers do spring cleaning along 141

As I mentioned at the beginning of this feature - I hear lots of comments at how Manning looks so nice and is so well taken care of...This is just ONE example of why and shows how much work and many volunteers it takes.

Many of you are probably aware that RAGBRAI is coming through Manning at the end of this month...again, things don't happen in a vacuum...it takes lots of preparation - even little things like placing bikes in the planters so flowering vines can climb them to make Main Street Manning look beautiful.

May 4, 2018

Main Street

I often show the city crew at work...sometimes they are busy with large projects and other times little things that most people don't notice or pay attention to...things that make the community look nice.
Here you see Justin Mundt and Reese Hansen working on the Main Street bricks. Due to various reasons, some areas of the bricks have settled so the city crew is pulling up the bricks, adding sand, and then replacing the bricks - this way there are no low spots where people could trip on or sprain an ankle...sometimes it is the little things like this that make the biggest difference and are usually a lot of hard work.


Main Street

The work can also be HOT - 95+ actual and humid...
Justin is the son of Dick Mundt - grandson of Delmar & Loyola Mundt - all of Manning.
Reese is the son of Kyle Hansen - grandson of Dick & Marilyn Hansen - all of Manning.


Patching rough areas

95+ actual and humid...and working with hot oil and asphalt


Replacing old sidewalks

In 2014, it was decided to build a trail system through Manning by raising funds, seeking grants and also state/federal money. Here are a few images of the trail progress this year.


View of the trail and Trestle Park from the trestle.

heading along the east side of the Nishnabotna Creek

Just south of Third Street


Trail goes under the 141 bridge

Looking north toward 141

Now we'll transition to the new sewer line being installed.
These first pictures were taken by the 141 bridge trail. You can see 2 large concrete pilings which most people have probably never even noticed and won't know the history behind them.

In 1880, the very first railroad was planned for Manning - the Northwestern (part of the Iowa Southwestern) which traveled from the northeast to southwest through town starting in 1881.
In late 1881, the Milwaukee RR was built through Manning. It originally traveled through the present day city park and was later moved to its present location in 1915.
In 1903, the Greatwestern also came through Manning, paralleling the Northwestern.

This first picture shows 2 large concrete pilings that once suported the bridge of the 1150 feet viaduct that spanned from West Street, over the Nishnabotna, and up to the present day east edge of the city baseball field.


Just north of the 141 bridge with Rasmussen Lumber in the background to the west.
People talk about the creek getting deeper but notice the tops of the concrete supports are several feet below the ground level, whereas 137 years ago they would have been - probably a foot or so above the ground level.
100+ years of flooding that has carried eroded soil from upstream has filled in the bottoms which tends to channel the creek more by displacing a lot of water that once spilled over the creek banks at a lower level.

new sewer line heading north from the sewer plant and heading toward 141

sewer line just before reaching 141

looking east

looking across 141 to the south

As they were boring under Highway 141 they ran into a wooden piling (red arrow).
As best I can tell, these pilings were part of the original temporary wooden bridge used to fill in the soil berm where the original Milwaukee RR tracks would eventually be laid in 1881 (see the picture with side-dump cars down below).
These next 2 pictures show the Milwaukee RR steel bridge that spans the Greatwestern RR on the west, the Northwestern RR in the middle and then the Nishnabotna Creek on the east end.

Locomotives heading west across the Milwaukee bridge

The two red arrows point to the spur off the Northwestern that went down to Gray/Audubon.
This spur ran just south of the present day Legion hall building.

Installing extra wooden piling supports - I assume to help carry larger locomotives and railcars.

1914 construction of the new Milwaukee right-of-way that was moved to north Manning.

This is how they would have filled in the berms that carried the original 1881 Milwaukee tracks up to the Northwestern right-of-way and over the creek as seen in the 3 pictures above.

Further to the east where the city park is today was the Milwaukee RR yards and original depot.
#1 is South Main Street, #2 is the original Manning light plant, #3 is where the Manning Legion hall would be located today.

backfilling and tamping the soil

A constant challenge is to work around other underground power, phone, gas, and water lines.


Heading north toward Third Street

You never know what you'll run into, such as this large steel I-beam. Because the Nishnabotna Creek meandered all over the flood plain, when the railroads came through they straightened the creek in many areas to lower the number of bridges needed. Once straightened, there were dead oxbows which needed filling. One of the ways they were filled is with junk and then later covered with some topsoil, so when you dig in the Manning flood bottoms you often hit all kinds of things.

One thing that John Ohde tries to do is to find uses for things that are obsolete or no longer used. This concrete structure was part of the old water treatment plant and stored water (something like a cistern). So when the new water plant was built it was abandoned. Now they are converting it into a storage facility.


taking soil load tests for the site of the water slide and splash pad.


Replacing the parking lot surface at Zion Lutheran


Gene Steffes - expanding into the cardboard baling business

This is just a sampling of what has been going on in Manning during the year, with more to come such as re-roofing the old gym of the Rec Center and many other projects that will pop up.

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