About this Project

Welcome to the Water Works Park Project.

I have had the privilege of living in Des Moines, Iowa for ten plus years at this posting. It’s a fun, vibrant city with a lot to offer, and Water Works Park is one of the highlights.

The park lies southwest of downtown, and is bisected by the meandering and unpredictable Raccoon River. I have had the pleasure of driving to and from work through the park nearly every working day for all of those ten years, and to this day, I see something different, interesting, beautiful and sometimes extraordinary nearly every day.

For a little background, at 1500 acres, Water Works Park (WWP) is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. It is the home of the Des Moines Water Works, and encompasses the Water Works facility buildings and a large and ingenious gallery groundwater filtration system, built starting in 1884, that is used to provide the city with clean drinking water to this day.

Where This Project Started

In the summer of 2014, after years of enjoying my daily trips through the park, I did what I had been telling myself to do for ages; stop the car and take some pictures. I did that a few times, and then I decided to give myself a challenge.

The assignment: Take photos in the park every day for 365 days, and post one photo, the best from each day, on the Web. The Water Works Park Project was born. The first photo was posted on August 10, 2014.

The Rules: I made myself a few rules to keep things interesting:

  1. Make it simple  (I have the point and shoot mentality.)
  2. Make it quick – I’m always running late.
  3. Don’t over think it – it’s hard for me to see when I’m thinking.
  4. Don’t stray far from the road – time, mud, geese, ticks, snakes…
  5. Don’t try to make art – I just capture what I see.
  6. Dont muck it up (no filters unless I fess up).
  7. Don’t complain about getting wet, hot, cold, stuck, bored – this was my idea.
  8. Don’t give up.
  9. See no. 7.
  10. If I have to miss a day, store up a few good shots, post them and fess up.

That first year, I limited myself to the southeast corner of the park, a small section with less than a mile of road. This little section is both beauty and business. It contains a stretch of river, a huge open green way, a fountain and gardens and the wonderful Arie den Boer crab apple tree arboretum, as well as several ponds and a big white ramshackle barn.

The first year challenge ended, and I turned the website for that first year into a book, A Year in Water Works Park.

But I couldn’t just stop photographing the place. It’s become an almost daily ritual for me, a meditation, really, so I am continuing to add photos to this site.

I still approach each visit with new eyes, and I’m never disappointed. Mother Nature (along with some very talented people) has put a lot of WOW! into a very small space. The deeper you look, the more you see, and the more there is to reveal.

Thanks for looking!

If you’d like to contact me, please use the form on the Contact page .

Amanda Royce-Hale

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A Journal In Photographs

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