History professor walks the Dragoon Trail

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BOONE, Iowa — The summer of 2021 will go down as a memorable one for Kevin Mason of Forest City. He’s walking the trail of the Dragoon soldiers who explored Iowa along the Des Moines River.

“One of things that led me to study the Dragoons was as an environmental historian focused on Iowa and the Midwest, it’s easy to take a look at the records the Dragoons created, as they were the first American expedition across Iowa,” said Mason. “They were recording all sorts of things about soil, water, plant and animal life … The records they created allow me as an environmental historian now to take a look at how Iowa has changed.”

Before the walk, Mason learned about the Dragoons.

“Not quite infantry, not quite cavalry that was mounted on horseback. They were kind of a forerunner to the United States Cavalry that came along during the Civil War era,” said Mason.

Mason began near Montrose, the site of the first Fort Des Moines location. He walked along for several days at a time before breaking for around ten days. During the down time, he publishes articles and videos and drone shots showing the landscape along the Des Moines River. His tour will go all the way to Estherville.

Mason will also stop in the Iowa Great Lakes area to hold a historical presentation on his tour at the Iowa Lakeside Lab.

“I really love Iowa history because I think you have to understand where you live,” said Mason. “If you don’t understand the past of a place, and you don’t understand the people that have been here, how they lived or how they utilized the things around them, then we can’t understand our current moment and we can’t make good decisions about the future.”

If you want to check Mason’s writings on the tour and videos about what he has seen, visit his website with links to Twitter and Facebook.

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