Exploring Sioux City, part II

Sioux City
Lewis and Clark, along with the dig, Seaman. Their expedition is chronicled at Sioux City’s expedition visitors center.

The only person to die during the Lewis and Clark expedition died near Sioux City. This fact doesn’t go unnoticed as the city celebrates its early American history – Native and European. The Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804-06 is a part of an interesting history that has unfolded along the banks of the Missouri River.

Sgt. Charles Floyd suffered appendicitis (not known during his era) and died in July 1804. Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark held a funeral for the Non-Commissioned Officer. He was buried atop a bluff overlooking the river.

In the years that followed, Sioux City community leaders organized a permanent resting place for him and a monument was built in his honor. The Sgt. Floyd Memorial stands tall along the southern edge of the city. You can’t miss it driving north on Interstate 29.

Sioux City
The Sergeant Floyd Monument stands on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River.

The city recognizes its connection to Lewis and Clark. A visitors center a few miles north of the Floyd monument shares stories of the expedition’s trek. Visitors can watch as President Thomas Jefferson explains why he is sending the Corps of Discovery along a 4,000-mile route, from St. Charles, Missouri, to the mouth of the Pacific Ocean in the northwest.

Sioux City
Thomas Jefferson explains his decision to send the Corps of Discovery along the Louisiana Purchase. The animatronics in this display are amazing.

The center also shares stories of area Native Americans – tribal history and customs, including games played.

Sioux City
Hoops used during Native American tribal games.

Native Americans have played a role in the area for centuries. Currently, the Santee, Ho Chuck (Winnebago) and Omaha tribes live within 90 miles of Sioux City.

A statue of War Eagle, a Santee Dakota by birth, stands atop a bluff on the northern edge of Sioux City. War Eagle, born in 1785, befriended the white man and encouraged civil relationships between the ethnic groups. He was buried near the spot where his monument stands – looking at the confluence of the Big Sioux and Missouri Rivers.

Sioux City
War Eagle is honored with a statue near his grave, which is on a bluff above the Big Sioux and Missouri River confluence.

As Sioux City’s population grew, it welcomed the signs of success – factories, railroads and people. The Sioux City Railroad Museum takes a look at the city’s rail history, with the Milwaukee Railroad and other companies serving the area.

Sioux City
The Sioux City Railroad Museum offers a look at the area’s rail history.

The 30-acre museum is built on the grounds of the former Milwaukee Railroad Shops. Here, visitors can check out train engines, rail cars and maintenance shops. Train buffs will love checking out a building housing several displays of working model trains.

Sioux City’s Public Museum offers an impressive view into the area’s history via its exhibits featuring Native Americans, pioneers, transportation, business, culture, as well as the famous stockyards. Each exhibit is well done.

Sioux City
The Livestock National Bank once served the city.

It’s easy to spend several hours there, studying the history and learning more about its historical citizens, as well as celebrities who call Sioux City home. Did you know that Jerry Mathers from “Leave it to Beaver” calls Sioux City home? The city’s most famous residents may have provided advice for millions of us – Dear Abby and Ann Landers. The sisters were also Morningside alumni (shameless personal plug, as our youngest daughter is an alumnus).

Sioux City
A look at Sioux City’s stockyards history.

If you’re a nature fan, then Stone State Park is for you. It’s home to the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center. The center – named for a former minister, who donated much of her time and money for nature-related activities – offers attractions, such as butterfly and flower gardens, classrooms, wetland and woodland nature exhibits and bird viewing areas.

Sioux City
A bee at work in one of the gardens at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center.

The state park (which doesn’t charge admission) offers hiking and walking paths. Visitors can take in some great views along several miles of trails. The park is also open for horseback riding, mountain bikes and snowmobiles.

Sioux City
A walking trail at Stone State Park.

Stone State Park is part of the 220-mile Loess Hills Scenic Byway.

No matter your religious beliefs, a visit to Sioux City should include Trinity Heights. On the grounds of a former high school and college, the attraction offers visitors an area for reflection and meditation among the 14 acres of trails and gardens. It is home to several sculptures recognizing significant people and events in the Catholic Church’s history. None are more impressive than the life-sized sculpture of The Last Supper. The piece was carved from wood. The sculptor used friends as models for the reenactment. It’s one of a few such sculptures in the world.

Sioux City
The Last Supper- carved from wood – is on display at Trinity Heights.

Among the other sculptures are giant statues of Jesus Christ and Mary. Other notable statues include Mother Teresa and Moses. The walkway to the Jesus statue features the 12 Stations of the Cross, which chronicle Jesus’ life.

If you enjoy eating (who doesn’t?), then Sioux City has a wide-ranging menu to offer. You can get great steak and fish in the city. How about Mexican? Check out La Juanita’s for authentic Mexican. The place was packed when we stopped for a late lunch. The meals are decently priced. I couldn’t make up my mind, so I went with a couple of tacos (on corn tortillas) and a small burrito. Oh. My. God. So good. So delicious!

Sioux City
La Juanita’s is a great choice for Mexican food for lunch or dinner.

Watching the crew in the kitchen work together as they prepared meals was like watching a well-oiled machine. The cashier took the orders and sent them down the counter. You would hear words being fired rapidly off the tongue. The kitchen staff worked quickly to prepare meals. It was fun just watching them prepare orders.

We veered off our recent goal of eating healthier on the road for breakfast at Jitters. The donut and coffee shop is a must-visit just off Historic Fourth Street. The store make fresh donuts every morning. You can watch them being made. They determine what toppings to coat the bare donuts with, including toppings to sprinkle on.

Sioux City
Jitter’s makes some delicious donuts and coffee.

We bought a half dozen, so we could sample them. After eating a coconut and white frosting covered donut, I realized why I don’t have donuts very often any more. I was stuffed. Lisa enjoyed a chocolate-covered donut. We shared the remaining donuts with others.

As we wrap our second half of the over view of our visit to Sioux City, Iowa, all I can say is this city is a hidden gem for Iowa. People need to visit Siouxland and take in the sites, food and entertainment available. We had a great weekend and look forward to returning to Sioux City to finish up some additional sightseeing, including the Art Museum, a hockey or baseball game and driving the Loess Hills Scenic Byway.

For more information, please visit www.visitsiouxcity.org or www.traveliowa.com.