Friday, September 29, 2017

RonnieAdventure #0275 - Southeastern South Dakota

Located just outside of Sioux Falls is the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center. This is a federal research facility that monitors Earth land changes. The facility is also the operational center for Landsat satellites and the depository for the world's largest collection of space-based data of the Earth's land areas. In the lobby of the building there is a monitor with a real-time downlink from the Landsat 8 satellite. 

Replicas of two Landsat satellites are on display in the building's lobby, along with many pictures of the Earth's surface taken by various satellites. Many of the satellite pictures look like modern art! 

The Good Earth State Park at Blood Run is one of the oldest sites of long-term human habitation in the United States. Although the name of the site sounds like a battlefield, the name "Blood Run" comes from the iron deposits in the area that cause the waters in the nearby creeks to have a reddish coloration.

Archaeologists have dated occupancy at the "Blood Run" site back to at least 6,500 B.C. and it is believed that the population peaked between 1650 and 1710. At its peak, the area population was estimated to be about 10,000 people.

"Blood Run" was a major trade center along the Big Sioux River and the place where tribes gathered to hold ceremonial celebrations. The most highly prized trade item was the beautiful soft red stone known as Pipestone, which was mined from quarries at what is now Pipestone National Monument in southwestern Minnesota. Large pieces of this extremely valuable stone were brought to the area where it was traded to tribes from all over North America. The soft stone it easy to work with and was used to make ceremonial items, including pipes.

Canton (population 3,057) was first settled in 1861 by L.P. Hyde and he built a house on the site that was later replace with a courthouse. The name "Canton" was picked for the town's name, because the settlers believed that on the globe the area was exactly opposite of Canton, China.

Most of the early settlers were from Norway, so they brought many of their native customs with them. Since there were no large hills in the area, in 1912 they constructed a large ski-jump tower with a vertical drop of 275 feet and started holding ski-jump tournaments. The tournaments became very popular and the U.S. National Tournaments of 1925, 1930, and 1935 were held at this location. In 1932 the U.S. Olympic Team trials were held here and Sverre Fretheim made a record jump of 192 feet. In 1944 the tower was destroyed by a high wind and it was never rebuilt.

There are a number of interesting sites and historic buildings in the community of Canton; and, of course, I managed to park next to the 1898 bank building that is now the "Canton Quilt Retreat."

Augustana Seminary was founded in 1860 in Chicago by the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Ausustana Synod to "...educate young men for the holy ministry...and to prepare men for the profession of teaching." The seminary gained the nickname "The School on Wheels" because in the process of looking for a permanent location, the facility moved to Paxton (Illinois), Marshall (Wisconsin), and Beloit (Iowa). Then, with the westward migration of many Norwegians, and by the offer of a three-story building by the citizens of Canton, the facility was moved to Canton in 1884.

In 1917, the Norwegian Lutheran Church in America merged with Augustana College and the Lutheran Normal School in Sioux Falls, and the Canton facility was closed. The facility was later reopened as the Augustana Academy and operated as a high school of the Lutheran Church until 1971. In 1995 the building was completely renovated and now houses 21 one-bedroom apartments and five two-bedroom apartments.

One of the old churches in Canton has been converted into the "Garden of Eat'n" restaurant and the old train depot is now a museum. In front of the depot there is a monument recognizing the achievements of Ernest and John Lawrence, who were born in Canton.

Ernest was a professor of Physics and founded the Lawrence Berkeley Radiation Laboratory in California. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for inventing the Cyclotron.

John was a physician and is known as the "Father of Nuclear Medicine." He founded the Donner Laboratory and was the first physician to use radioisotopes in medicine. He was also the first physician to use the Cyclotron invented by his brother to treat cancer patients with a particle beam.

Newton Hills State Park is located south of Canton and is part of a geological feature called the "Coteau des Prairie," a narrow strip of rolling hills created by glaciers during the last ice age. The park contains a shady campground and many miles of hiking trails. Also found in the area are artifacts and burial mounds from about 300 B.C. to 900 A.D.

Alcester (population 807) was founded in 1879 by a company that had access to future plans of the Chicago Northwestern Railroad's route into Dakota Territory. The company was able to purchase 135 acres of private land adjacent to the proposed railroad alignment and then when the railroad arrived they sold the lots for $50 each, making a substantial profit.

In 1921 Deecort Hammitt formed the Alcester Community Band that played every Saturday night for a number of years. The band also held a variety of concerts in the Alcester Opera House. Deecort Hammitts went on to composed the song "Hail South Dakota," which became the state song in 1943.

There is a nice veterans memorial in town and I knew that I liked this town when I saw their sign that indicated U-Turns were permitted! (Since I often have to turn around to go back and take a picture, I have been know as the "King of U-Turns" and practice my profession at some unusual times and places. One time my sister-in-law was ridding with me when I made a U-Turn and she commented that it was the first time that she had ever been ridding with someone when they made a U-Turn in the middle of a bridge!)

Elk Point has an interesting history. The area was first established as a Hudson's Bay Trading Post in 1755 and received its name from the abundant elk population that was found in the area. Then, on August 22, 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition made camp at this site and Clark recorded in his journal that there were a "Great deel of Elk Sign" around the camp. When the Military Road was built from Sioux City to Fort Randall in the Dakota Territory, a settlement was established at Elk Point in 1859, making it one of the oldest communities in South Dakota.

Today Elk Point has a population of 1,993 people and is the county seat of Union County.

The Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, located in the southeast corner of South Dakota, was donated to the people of South Dakota in 1984 by grandchildren of the original homesteaders as a "Place for Inner Renewal." There is a visitor center, restored historical buildings, interpretive exhibits, education programs and 10 miles of hiking trails that wind through prairie, forest, and along the river. Within the Nature Preserve there are "...over 100 species of birds, a variety of native plants and a number of different animals."

Friday, September 22, 2017

RonnieAdventure #0274 - Sioux Falls (South Dakota) and vicinity (2017)

Arriving at the Sioux Falls Airport, you are greeted by a large statue of Joe Foss, Korean War Ace and former governor of South Dakota, and a statue of Charles Lindbergh as a child.

Since we were in town for a Canistota High School Class Reunion, we decided to spend a few extra days in the area and enjoy some RonnieAdventudres!

One of my favorite places to visit in Sioux Falls is Falls Park on the Big Sioux River. The river cuts through some of the oldest Quartzite in the State of South Dakota and the rock is very hard and resistant to erosion; so it is estimated that the falls have changed little in the last 10,000 years.

First stop in the Park is the Visitor Information Center, which has an Observation Tower that you can climb for an overall view of the falls.

There are a number of walking paths that follow the river as it runs through the Park. 

The seven-story Queen Bee Mill was constructed on the east bank of the river in 1881. However, after the mill was completed it was discovered that there was an inadequate supply of water to drive the mill's equipment; so the plant closed in 1883. Then, in 1908, the Sioux Falls Light and Power Company constructed a new building that housed three 500-kilowatt hydroelectric generators to provide consistent power for the Queen Bee Mill. 

In 1956 a fire destroyed the mill, but the power plant continued to operate and supply power for Sioux Falls until 1974. In 1977 the power plant building was abandoned and donated to the City of Sioux Falls. The building has now been renovated and converted into the Falls Overlook Cafe.

The old Minnehaha County Courthouse in downtown Sioux Falls was constructed from local Sioux Quartzite and has now been converted into a museum with three floors for regional history. Construction on the building started in 1889 and when completed in 1893 it was considered to be the "largest courthouse between Chicago and Denver." The museum has now joined with the Pettigrew Home and Museum to become the Siouxland Heritage Museums. 

The Cathedral of Saint Joseph is located just a few blocks from the Pettigrew Home and Museum and is open to the public for self-guided tours. 

Augustana University is located in Sioux Falls and since their nursing program affiliated with many of the same facilities as the South Dakota State University nursing program, we have many good friends that graduated from Augustana. 

The USS South Dakota Battleship (BB-57) was in active service from 1942 until 1947 and was the lead ship of her class. In 1947 the ship was placed on reserve status and then sold in 1962 with the sitpulation that approximately $2 million of equipment would be donated to the State of South Dakota. The equipment has now been memorialized in a Sioux Falls park where it is displayed within a concrete outline of the ship's main deck.  

The Porter Sculpture Park, located west of Sioux Falls on Interstate 90 at the Montrose Exit 374, in 2010 was listed as one of Time magazine's top 50 American Roadside Attractions. There are over 50 sculptures that were made from scrap metal, old farm equipment and railroad tie plates. The 60-foot tall bull head took three years to build, weighs 25 tons, and is equal in size to the heads of Mount Rushmore.