Monday, September 16, 2013

Mitchell, SD

“The Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village is the only archaeological site in South Dakota that is open to the public. The Village is an active research center and is a National Historic Landmark. Visitors to the site can see the many artifacts that have been excavated during the annual digs and they can tour the dig site itself in the comfort of the Thomsen Center Archeodome.”

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The above two pictures are of the reconstruction of a Mandan longhouse.

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The archelogical dig is located in this archeodome.

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Tom and Jim at the Corn Palace.

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The following morning Jim and Sherry and Tom and I went our separate ways.  Jim and Sherry had to return home early due to family obligations.  Tom and I are continuing to Potosi, WI, to meet up with our camping group for our monthly meeting.

The Badlands

We departed Steel Wheel RV Park heading down, down, down to Deadwood and up, up, up to I-90 at Sturgis.  Never did go to Sturgis, oh well. Next stop Wall Drug about 82 miles east.

Wall is now a destination rather than a stop.  There is at least a three-block area will all types of shops and museums.  We ate at Wall Drug and Tom was the only one to try a buffalo burger.

Wall DS map

Map of the Wall Drug Complex

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Jim cozying up for a photo op.

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Inside Wall Drug

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Animatronic tyrannosaurus.

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In a weak moment we were talked into posing on this Jackalope

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Tom was not interested in this lovely lady.

Wounded Knee Museum

In December of 1890, American soldiers massacred 90 unarmed Lakota men and 200 women and children using something similar to a Hotchkiss gun much like a Gatling gun. If that was not appalling enough, the government handed out at least 20 Medals Of Honor to Soldiers.

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One of the many first-hand accounts of the massacre on display in the museum


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Sherry is afraid of snakes.  We thought it would be fun to have her pose by this sign.  Did not see any snakes at all.

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A herd of Bighorn Sheep

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Discovered this big guy close by the road.

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We went to the Ranch Store on Hwy 240 where you can feed the prairie dogs peanuts.  We all had a good time.

Prairie Homestead, Cactus Flats, SD

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Sometimes you do goofy on vacation.

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White prairie dogs at Prairie Homestead

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Inside a soddie

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I hope this guy has his Sears Roebuck Catalog

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Our Badlands campground

We called to make reservations and when we arrived 94 year-old, Jesse greeted us and ushered us to our sites.

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We are rock-hounding on designated forest service land.

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We each have a sack of rocks.

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Jim climbed up this mound to take a picture. It was actually pretty difficult to get town without taking a tumble.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Deadwood Area Day 3

We visited two museums today.  The first one was Deadwood’s Adams Museum.  In 1930, Pioneer businessman E.W. Adams founded the Adams Museum. This is a wonderful museum which houses a variety of local history including relics from the shooting of Wild Bill Hickok (below), Plains Indian life, the history of Deadwood floods and fires, Deadwood’s legends and outlaws and notorious businesses. Literally everything is labeled, making the self guided visit a pleasure. A suggested donation of $5 is optional but well worth it.

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Wild Bill Hickok’s grave with dignitaries including Buffalo Bill Cody 3rd from the left.

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a pencil sketch of Wild Bill Hickok.

Visited the High Plains Western Heritage Museum in Spearfish.  It was the brainchild of two ranchers who were fearful that when their generation passed the history of the area would be lost.  The museum exhibits represent the states of Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Western artifacts, Western art, cowboys, rodeo, cattle roundup, family life and various modes of transportation. The collection is large in both number of items and the size of some of the items.

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The museum actually had a photo of these cattle when alive.  They are interesting colors.

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This saddle was designed by Tom Selleck.

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This beautiful horse hair bridle was won in a poker game around 1900

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Cowboy Statue

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Native American Artifacts

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Chuck Wagon

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I remember the story of Comanche from when I was a kid.  He was the sole survivor of Custer’s command.

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Barrel Cradle

Yesterday we found a place called Philly Ted’s Cheesesteak for lunch in Spearfish and had to go again today.  Went to the Silverado in Deadwood for buffet supper.  Nothing to write home about.  Oops, I guess I am doing that.  We were told to park in the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot, take a ticket then have it validated.  Well there were no instructions at the parking lot. I wish I would have thought to get a picture of the sophisticated fee collection system.  Tom went back to the lot after the doorman told him about the ticket/validation.  He looked all over for a “ticket booth.”  Tom went all the way around the bank and when I didn’t see him coming back, I went to find him. When I didn’t come back Sherry came after me.

There was no booth, just a metal box about 2’ x 2’ with slots in it and Post-it Notes stuck under each slot.  We would still be there trying to figure it out if a local hadn’t showed up to give us the low-down.  You take a Post-it note, it is cut about 3/4 the way up, each side as the same number.  You then shove your $5 into the slot which is about 1/4 x 1 1/4,” then you take a special tool that is hanging on a chain to shove the money into the slot. Then you tear the Post-it apart and put one part on the dash of your vehicle and take the other into the Silverado for validation.  What we got for our $5 were four strips of coupons, one of which was for $1 off the buffet and with ID we got a Senior Players Card loaded with $5 each.  Sherry didn’t bring her ID so she couldn’t get one.  Well after dinner we played our cards and Tom won $1.25, Sherry won $2.50 and I won 8.25. So when all was said and done we came out $11 ahead.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Deadwood Area Day 2

Our first stop this morning was Lead (pronounced leed, which is a mining term) and the Homestake Mine only to find that tours were cancelled due to repairs on something or another.  We did get to view a video and the open pit mine behind the visitor’s center.  The mine operated for 126 years, closing in 2002, due to falling gold prices. There is still gold in the mine but operating costs surpassed income generated by the gold produced.  Homestake Mine provided a good living for the workers, company sponsored health care and many other benefits for the town.

The open cut portion of the mine is 1,200 feet, however the underground portion extends to more than 8,000 feet.  A system of shafts and drifts that extend under the town. 

Demolition of buildings and cleanup of the site is expected to take several more years.  Part of the mine is currently houses the Sanford Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory at the 4,000 foot level.  Pumps are constantly removing water below that level as the water table is near the surface.

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We went down the road a couple of miles to the Black Hills Mining Museum.  This is another wonderful museum.  The well-informed tour guide takes you down to basement level to a simulation of the Homestake Mine.  The tour takes you from the earliest years to the close of the mine, describing mining methods through the years.  The museum was made possible by the Homestake Mine Co.

There is a nice museum above ground, with mining and local history.

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1904 Homestake Mine Employees

We next took an excursion over the border into Wyoming to see the Vore Buffalo Jump.  As with many of the places and things we wanted to see it was closed after Labor Day but they did leave the gate open so you could take a self-guided tour.

The site was discovered in the 1970s during the construction of I-90.  This is where buffalo were driven into a sinkhole by Native Peoples and butchered for meat, hide, bones, sinew, etc.

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This is a photo of a sign depicting the buffalo falling into the pit.

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Here is a view from the bottom of the pit.  University students intern here during the summer months.  The building protects the dig site.

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The large teepee on the left appears to be a visitor center.  It is not made of canvas rather wood covered by roofing membrane to resemble a teepee.  The teepee on the right covers a “sandbox with arrow points you can dig with the trowels provided and keep for $1.  I’m sure these are modern versions of artifacts not the real thing.

We took Hwy 14A, the 19 mile Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, back to Deadwood.  Spearfish Creek parallels the road and there are pullouts that allow you to access the creek or the waterfalls along the way.  The cold water comes from springs.  Spearfish Creek disappears to the north in Spearfish.  Some water is diverted for domestic use and the remainder finds its way into sinkholes created from dissolving gypsum in the ground.2013 Sep 11_Lead-Vore Buff Jump-Spearfish Canyon_0790

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Fly fisherman fishing for trout.


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It was quite a hike to Spearfish Falls across a bridge and over rugged terrain.  On the way back I was huffing and puffing so loud that I didn’t know there was a man behind me until he scuffed his foot in the gravel.  I nearly jumped out of my skin. He apologized for frightening me.  I told him that I couldn’t hear him over my heavy breathing.

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Roughlock Falls is handicap accessible with a paved path and very nice viewing platforms.

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There are several picnic tables like this at Roughlock Falls.  The top and seats are 4” thick.  There are similar chunky benches there also.