Ingleside Park landmarks receive signs

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Guttenberg park board member John Hess (above) researched and had signs placed on the Civil War Cannon and two professionally engraved dropstones located in Ingleside Park. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

A Civil War cannon and two dropstones, professionally engraved with the year 1936 and located in Ingleside Park in Guttenberg, have finally received the recognition they deserve thanks to City Park Board member John Hess.

Hess diligently started his research in 2019. "I think it is very important to have correct signage placed near or on historical landmarks in public areas," Hess commented. "It removes any speculation and identifies the landmark being observed."

In addition to his research Hess has been taking care of the lawn surrounding the Veteran's Memorial since 1993. "I mow and weed-eat once a week," he noted. "It's my way of showing respect for the men and women that have served our county. I think it is very important to make the area look as pristine as possible."

Dropstones

Hess spent many hours online reading through Guttenberg Press archives and reached out to local historical preservationist and archeologist Chris Schoen of Guttenberg, rock hound/geologist, Phil Burgess of Prairie du Chien, Wis., and visited the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre to gather factual information about the two dropstones. Guttenberg Chamber of Commerce Board Member Michelle Geuder assisted Hess in his research and found the following information in the Thursday, Sept. 14, 1939 issue of The Guttenberg Press from The Shooting(s), a column written by Dan McGrew.

Now about those rocks in the park. 

I’m not altogether sure about them, for I haven’t had an opportunity to talk with Cletus Saeugling, who put them there. 

You may rest assured, however, that I will not mislead you – they positively are not recently fallen meteors. 

In fact, don’t surround their immediate past with any romantics. They came off a barge load of rock, which was destined to be dumped into the river. 

From this promise beginning they have ended up in a place of potential grandeur – one as in the park across from the post office, the other across from the Del Morley residence

As to what they’re for I don’t know, although some cynics have suggested that they might be useful as something else for Gus Reunitz to mow around. 

I also have heard rumors concerning their supposed earlier origins, that they were brought down into this region by glaciers, which covered this area something like 100 million years ago.

If anybody wants to argue about that, this column is open and sympathetic.

"Years ago, Paul Dale 'P.D.' Dickson, park caretaker, told me they were pulled from the Mississippi River during the construction of Lock and Dam 10," Hess recalled. "We hired Autotek's graphic designer, Sheryl Bahls of Guttenberg, to create the markers and the City paid for the signs out of the Park Board budget."

Each sturdy, easy to read, weather-resistant marker will be attached to an arched support beam and positioned above the dropstone, and read:

This “Dropstone” was removed from the Mississippi River Bed during the construction of Lock & Dam No. 10, in 1936. This “Dropstone” is a plutonic rock from the Precambrian Age (2–2.5 billion years old) and was deposited in the river bed during the Ice Age thousands of years ago when meltwater floods coursed down the Mississippi River Valley and then dropped to the bottom when the ice melted. They originated from the Canadian Shield. 

Civil War Cannon

Researching past issues of the Guttenberg Press also helped Hess piece together the history of the Civil War cannon. A short news item found in the October 17, 1900 issue on page 5 stated:

The cannon promised the town of Guttenberg by Congressman Haugen is here. It weighs over 1400 pounds and is an iron 6-inch cannon. A carriage will be made for it and it will be ready to announce it’s presence in a most noisesome manner next fourth of July.

"No one knows what really happened. It was on a carriage and accompanied by a stack of cannon balls but no one knows where they went," Hess shared. 

M.J. Smith, former freelance writer for the Guttenberg Press cited letters written by Civil War veteran 1st Lieut. A. Bliedung, a member of Company D27, and prominent citizen of Guttenberg as responsible for composing a letter on June 5 requesting a Civil War cannon. Bliedung even offered to pay the freight and any additional expenses out of his own pocket. His desire in bringing the historic relic to the community was to create pageantry during the United States summer centennial celebration, and bring enthusiasm for a much anticipated presidential election.  

The plaque on the Civil War cannon reads: 

This Civil War cannon was donated to the City of Guttenberg by Guttenberg resident 1st. Lieut. A Bliedung, Company D27, Iowa Union Army by way of the head of the Iowa Union Army following the Civil War in 1876. It was to represent the area residents who fought in the Civil War & also celebrate the nation's centennial. 

This bronze, muzzle-loading, field howitzer had been cast in 1863 for the Union Army at the Cyrus Alger & Company foundry located in South Boston, Mass. This artillery piece could fire an 18.4 pound cannon ball up to 1,300 yards. 

This cannon is a reminder of a war that divided families & states & is also a symbol of one man’s decision, believing that his contribusion would strengthen community spirit & national unity. 

“It will be nice to have all the identification signs in place so local residents and tourists to the area know what they are looking at, and the effort it took to have them placed in our community’s beautiful park,” he said with a smile. “It only took 155 years to get a plaque on the cannon, and 82 years for the rocks so we are making progress.”

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