Historic Hood River
Aerial View to a Tragedy
This Laraway image from Glenwood, Iowa tells an amazing tale. We know it is from 1903 or earlier because it predates tornado damage to the buildings below, which means it must have been taken from a hot air balloon. That’s a pretty good story by itself. But the scene tells a far more tragic tale. The complex of buildings at the bottom of the frame was the Iowa Institution For Feeble-Minded Children. The two large buildings were the boys’ and girls’ dormitories.
The facility started as a home for Civil War orphans– in fact this is where Billy Sunday lived as a child. In 1876 it was converted into an institution for the “feeble-minded” children, and later adults were housed there too. The 1903 tornado killed two children. Its long history included severe overcrowding, forced sterilizations, experimentation on patients, and other activities which led the US Department of Justice to conclude it violated the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. You can read all about its sad history here.
Tags: 1900s, aerial view, balloon, institution, Iowa, Iowa Institution For Feeble Minded Children, Laraway, tornado
An example of when people say, “trust your government to take care of you”, others say…..you don't know history very well.
How sad. A human being who had much to give, and did so to the best he could under the devastating circumstances. Should have locked his mother up instead, she was the deficient one.
By the way, the name of the place Loess is also the name of one of the best soil types in the world, rich and windblown. Which is why the Midwest is probably called the bread basket of the world.
Billy Sunday spent very little time at this orphanage. He was transferred in 1872 to another facility for war orphans in Davenport, Iowa…The Annie Wittenmeyer Home. He was on his own at 14. It was still an orphanage when I lived in the neighborhood as a child in the â€˜60s, closing in 1975. The entire complex still stands and is a National Register Historic District. Annie Wittenmeyer was a remarkable woman who, among other accomplishments, was at the front lines establishing a dietary network for the Union soldiers that would aid in getting healthy food to them, especially the sick and wounded.
While hot air balloons existed in 1903, the most popular type for this sort of ascension was the gas balloon; the gas being hydrogen generated at the launch site by reacting zinc with sulphuric acid, as seen here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_ballooning#/media/File:Brady_-_Balloon_ascension_HD-SN-99-01887.JPEG
I wonder if the same view today is still farms, homes, crop circles, city??