South Dakota

South Dakota means (or meant) the Wild West. People like Wild Bill Hickok, Deadwood Dick, Calamity Jane, Sitting Bull, Buffalo Bill Cody, Crazy Horse, Wyatt Earp, The Sundance Kid, George Armstrong Custer and Bat Masterson all spent time in this area, and in some cases breathed their last here.


Bullock Hotel (1895), Main Street, Deadwood

Deadwood is famous for Wild Bill Hickok and  Calamity Jane, the former meeting his end in a saloon here. They are buried in adjacent graves at Mount Moriah Cemetery which overlooks Deadwood. Local history suggests that Hickok was not a great fan of Calamity Jane and he would have been less than amused that she arranged to be buried next to him. Although the town has many historic buildings, including the saloon where Hickok was shot, gambling was legalised some years back and the interior of nearly every historic building has been converted into a casino and the Bullock Hotel is no exception.

The Corn Palace, Mitchell, SD, USA

The Corn Palace, Mitchell

Every so often in small town America, you come across a gem, and this is one of them. There has been a Corn Palace in Mitchell since the late 19th century and this building dates from 1921. The early settlers decorated the corn palace to demonstrate the success of the harvest obtained from the fertile local soil. The tradition continues today - each year the the exterior of the Corn Palace is stripped bare and then redecorated using produce from the new harvest. Click Tab 2 to see a closer view of one of the decorative panels.

Profile view of Mount Rushmore

You didn’t expect a conventional picture of one of the most famous attractions in the USA, did you? From this angle George Washington looks out of the cliff face, but Jefferson, Roosevelt and  Lincoln are nowhere to be seen. It took 14 years to carve this starting in 1927, and the final result is less ambitious than the original plan. If you want to get a feel for the effort involved in creating this sculpture, an even larger sculpure of Crazy Horse is being blasted out of a mountain not far away.

Badlands National Park from Fossil Trail, SD, USA

Badlands National Park from Fossil Trail

Much of the Badlands in South Dakota look similar to those in North Dakota, but every so often you come across an etherial or even slightly scary scene. These jagged peaks are actually quite small, but you do get the feeling that you could well be on another planet.

Bullock Hotel (1895), Main Street, Deadwood, South Dakota, USA
TMount Rushmore profile view, SD, USA
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- We liked much of what we saw in the state, but the Corn Palace in Mitchell stands out.
- Historic buildings in cities like Deadwood being turned into casinos.
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Mammoth bones, Mammoth Site, Hot Springs, SD

Mammoth bones, Mammoth Site, Hot Springs

Where the town of Hot Springs now stands about 26,000 years ago there was a deep and steep sided sink hole. At the bottom of this was water from hot springs, which prove irresistible to the animals of the day.   Many of those that ventured down into the sink hole found that they were unable to get out, and they died in the water at the bottom.   The animals were very different from those that you might meet today, then mammoth, camel, and giant short-faced bear abounded. Their bones became preserved in the mud at the the bottom of the sink hole. Mammoth Site is a museum built around the excavations of the former sink hole that shows the bones of animals that came to grief in the sink hole as well as full sized models of the animals to show how they would have looked.



© Mike  Elsden 1981 - 2023

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