Monday, February 20, 2017

Mines of Spain

Last October while we were in the Dubuque area, we stopped at the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area and E.B. Lyons Nature Center.  The nature center was a sort of small museum with a gift shop and a conference room.   A field trip for an elementary school class seemed to be in progress; there were a lot of children.
We started our hike on the very short Pine Chapel Trail.  The roof of the chapel was being fixed, and a local historian happened to be there.  She told us about the chapel, built in the 1860s by Otto Junkermann to resemble a church he remembered in Germany.  It seems this chapel, though, was never really used as a church.  

It served as a meeting place for social gatherings and business and political meetings, and also as a trading post between the Native Americans and settlers.  During the Prohibition, the chapel was used as a grainery to supply grain for an illegal still.  Later, a hiking club used it as a meeting place.
A bench and water pump mark the spot where the old Junkermann homestead stood.  Elsewhere on our hike, we saw the foundation for a greenhouse (above right). 
We decided to take the Mesquakie, Calcite, and Julien Dubuque trails up to the Dubuque Monument.  We didn't have a huge amount of time on our hands, and to the monument and back was approximately a 5K.  So...we decided we might as well get our run in for the day.
And--what a run it was!  Part of the trail was grassy, but most of it was dirt.  There were plenty of roots protruding (tripping hazards), and there were many stairs.  I loved it, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone not used to trail running--or afraid of falling.
We went up these stairs to get to the monument and see the Mississippi.  The Julien Dubuque monument is a huge gravestone of sorts, built around Dubuque's grave.  Dubuque, a French Canadian, was one of the first Europeans known to have settled in Iowa.  He received permission to mine lead in the area from the Mesquakie Indians in 1788.  The Spanish government subsequently gave him their approval as well in 1796 with a land grant, and he named the area the Mines of Spain in honor of the governor.

A contemporary, Mr. Soulard, described Dubuque as, "a man below the usual stature, of black hair and eyes, wiry and well-built, capable of great endurance, and remarkably courteous and polite, with all the suavity and grace of a typical Frenchman.  To the ladies he was always the essence of politeness." 
Dubuque earned about $20,000 annually through his lead mines, and also had income from fur trading and farming.  However, Dubuque still had debt problems.  He was very generous and supported friends who worked in his mines.  He also enjoyed an expensive lifestyle compared with others who lived on the frontier at that time.

Julien Dubuque was a friend of Peosta, a Mesquakie chief, whose grave is near Dubuque's.  Dubuque is said to have married Potosa, the chief's daughter.  In 1810, when Dubuque died, the Mesquakie buried him with tribal honors under a wood and stone mausoleum.
Eventually, souvenir hunters took the cross French friends left over the grave. There were rumors vandals had broken into the grave, and there was evidence that vandals had tried.  After years of effort to arose interest in building a monument around Dubuque's grave, the Julien Dubuque Monument Association was organized in 1896.

Upon excavation, the bones of Julien Dubuque, Potosa, Chief Poesta, Chief Rolling Cloud, and Gray Eagle were found. 

Dubuque and Chief Poesta had been such good friends that when the Poesta died, he was buried in the same mound as Dubuque.  According to Richard Herrmann, the Mesquakie, "wishing to put the two as close together in death as they had been in life" unearthed Dubuque's skull and buried it right beside Poesta's with a peace pipe between them.

The current monument was built of limestone, and in 1897, Julien Dubuque was again laid to rest.
I thought it incredibly strange to see what appeared to be the ashes of Penelope K. Shaw (1940-2016) in front of the monument!  I assume (hope) someone has buried (or scattered) her ashes by now.  But there were no mourners anywhere in sight.  

At first glance, I thought, "I sure hope no one steals this."  But then one of my family members asked me, "Who would want to steal ashes?"  Good question.  

I'm sure there's a reason and a story behind this all.  Maybe her dying request was to spend a few months near he Mississippi at Dubuque's grave.  Who knows?  In any case, I'd like to hear the story.
Looking out over the Mississippi, we could see speedboats and admire the view of Dubuque. Most prominently featured on the horizon were the Dubuque Courthouse and the spires of St. Mary's.

The Twilight, which claims to the most elegant riverboat launched in the past 100 years, happened to make its way down the river while we were watching.
Tickets are $399 for a two-day cruise, $159 for one day, or only $16 for 90 minutes.  The Twilight reminded me of the ships and boats regularly sighted and posted by John's Island in Seattle (be sure to check out his blog).
On our way back to the nature center, we saw a lead mine.  It was surrounded by a fence and a sign told its story.  Apparently Native Americans were already mining lead when the first Europeans arrived.  Dubuque's mines, however, were the first "truly organized" mining, smelting, and marketing operation.  Many of the Mesquakies worked for him.
The Mines of Spain Recreation Area is beautiful.  There are several other trails we didn't have the time to hike/run.  My impression was that a person could spend a week covering all the trails in the area.
I very much enjoyed my visit to the Mines of Spain and would recommend it to anyone looking for a great place to hike.

31 comments:

  1. I would love to visit and walk here - what a beautiful place! The ashes placed there is very strange and I'd like to know that story too. Love that riverboat too!

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    1. I definitely would not mind going back some time!

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  2. This looks like the places I love to go and take a long walk in...nature parks. Your photos are beautiful, Bethany! Thank you so much for sharing.

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  3. Enjoyed seeing all your beautiful photos of this interesting place. I too would love to take a walk on the trails.

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    1. I always enjoy hearing about your walks, Happyone!

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  4. Hi Bethany! Sorry I've missed so much - playing catch up. I especially loved your last post about goodness and mercy and such truth you spoke there. Great lessons for us all to practice.

    And I found this so interesting. We also have a lot of Native American culture in our area and places named for French traders and for the Native American words for things. So it felt like something I could have been reading about right in my own back yard. ;) Thanks for sharing your lovely photos and interesting history!

    I also love that you folks went running there! I'm so impressed as I'd have probably broken something for sure trying to run through there. Lol!! And with several of you in skirts besides!!

    Blessings dear Friend. xoxo

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    1. Hi Carrie,
      Glad you enjoyed the posts. It's always fun to learn the history behind places.
      My folks pretty much all love running. My parents and my youngest sister run half-marathons. Some of the courses they've run have been much rougher than this.
      Skirts are actually very comfortable to run in as long as they are about knee-length.
      Blessings to you as well! Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

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  5. What a beautiful place! It looks like you had a lovely day together. Thank you for sharing with us here. God bless you, sweet friend. :)

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    1. It was a lot of fun. God bless you too, Cheryl!

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  6. How fun! I'm craving a trip somewhere after looking at everyone's pictures of their travels. Maybe soon!

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  7. Wow, looks like you a wonderful hike/run! Quite the beautiful place.

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  8. What a gorgeous place! :D The riverboat looks so grand and old-fashioned. I can see why you enjoyed yourself, thought it does sound like a risky running trail. ;)

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    1. We just had to be careful. It was a lovely day for a run.

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  9. that trail is just beautiful, bethany! you capture such beautiful shots!
    my family and i love to hike, so thank you for the recommendation! if i'm ever in that corner of the woods, i'll be sure to visit!

    many blessings to you.

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    1. Be sure to let me know if you're ever up this way!

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  10. Ooooh, I love these pictures. That trail, so cool. I could jog on it and not have to smile or talk to anyone. Heaven I say, heaven.

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    1. Heh! Your comment made me smile, Ivy. Happy jogging to you!

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    2. lololol. I am giggling at the computer right now.

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  11. Beautiful. Loved the history and the pictures. I'd love to see it for myself! But I wouldn't run it. ;)

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    1. A person can cover more territory running, but I think just walking would enable a person to soak in the view a little better.

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  12. Ok...I HEART that bridge <3 how magnificent. I would love to read there.

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  13. Hi Bethany, I thoroughly enjoyed this post with lots of your fine photography and a special surprise! Now, when looking at pictures of a destination, especially one I haven’t seen, like the Mines of Spain Recreation Area, my criteria for judging photos is how much they make me want to go and see the place in person. Your pics definitely do that in this post! The next to last large picture … oh my goodness, is that a beautiful spot, or what? And, on top of all that, your photo of the Twilight, the “most elegant riverboat launched in the past 100 years” beckons me to Le Claire, Iowa! And there’s still more … the mention of a blog called John’s Island! Thank you for the mention and this excellent post! Postscript: My blogging seems to have slowed to a snail’s pace lately, posting about once a week. We had one of the rainiest Februarys on record in Seattle and, although the rain doesn’t really bother me, it does prevent getting out and taking pics for the blog. Stopping by Today Liberty or Death encourages me to get back out there and start taking more pictures. So, your blog is a blessing and I thank you for that! Best regards to you and all the Carson family!

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    1. Hi John, Glad you enjoyed the post. I've been a bit slow on my blogging as well. I'll be stopping by John's Island to see if you've posted anything. Hope you have a wonderful week!

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  14. It seems to be a wonderful area and the Dubuque's story is very interesting. The views are great and the river is amazing. A Twilight cruise could be an incredible experience. I read that food served is very good. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. Interesting and beautiful. I am so impressed with your family running! Bravo! The Mississippi is grand and the riverboat is like the ones I have seen here on the Columbia, although they are trimmed in red.

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    1. A red trim would really make the boats stand out!

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