Several months ago when planning my trip to Iowa, I decided to research how many national parks and/or monuments were in the state. There are two: Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch and Effigy Mounds National Monument located along the Upper Mississippi River in the northeast part of the state along the Wisconsin border.
West Branch is just over an hour from where I grew up and would be a great day trip. As I was reading about this site which also includes the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, I discovered they have an Artist in Residence program. I was curious as to the attraction to this site and the site became an item on my shot list!
Of course the government shut down was during the first part of my trip to Iowa. I was very disappointed that the grounds normally open 24 hours a day to pedestrians were closed. Fortunately, the grounds re-opened and I was able to visit. I decided to go on a day that was overcast as I would probably not be shooting landscape images that day. I talked one of my aunt’s into going with me.
Both President Hoover and his wife Lou Henry Hoover are buried on the grounds. The graves are marked by marble slabs and are simple as is Quaker style. Only their names, year born and year of death are engraved.
The portrait of Lou is stunning. President Hoover looks very distinguished in his top hat in this photo. You are allowed to photograph inside the library as long as you do not use a flash. The light is dim in places most likely due to preservation of the items in the library. As I was more interested in the history I only took three photos inside.
Being a resident of Arizona I found the information in this photo quite interesting. Of course I was aware of the Hoover Dam, but the history behind the Colorado River was not something I knew.
Outside we toured the grounds and it was absolutely beautiful. Now I knew the attraction for the Artist in Residence program.
You are able to go inside the birthplace of President Hoover. The home is quite small, only 14 feet by 20 feet. Walking around to the back of the home, I noticed that the outhouse seemed quite far away. It must have been really cold in the winter walking that far!
The area I was most curious about was the restored tall grass prairie on the south side of the grounds. I am passionate about macro photography, especially wildflowers. I can only imagine how beautiful this is in the spring and summer with wildflowers and 6 feet tall prairie grass! I would be there for hours and possibly days! All sorts of images were going through my mind as I wandered through the prairie. There is a very wide path through the prairie for hiking, walking your dog and even cross-country skiing.
Even though all the wildflowers were spent and gone to seed, I was thinking that at sunset the prairie might turn a beautiful shade of orange-red. I made plans to visit again while in Iowa on a sunny day.
A few days before I was scheduled to leave Iowa, I made another trip to the Herbert Hoover Historic Site. I was hoping some of the trees that hadn’t turned color had now turned, but that wasn’t the case. I did find a small oak tree at the far south of the prairie that had some fall color. The prairie didn’t turn quite the color I had hope for at sunset, but nonetheless it was beautiful.