Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wall South Dakota

In 1931 Dorothy and Ted Hustead went in search of a place to buy a drugstore.  Ted had graduated from pharmacy school in 1929.  His father had died and left him $3000.  They found Wall South Dakota because there was a drugstore for sale and also because it had a Catholic Church.  Business was not good and they had decided that they would give it 5 years.  One day, during the summer of 1936, while trying to take a nap, Dorothy came up with the idea to put signs up on then 16A, advertising free ice water.  Ted and Billy painted the signs and put them up the next weekend and the rest is history.  People started stopping on their way to Yellowstone National Park. 

This small town in the middle of nowhere has become quite the tourist stop.  Wall Drug takes up one whole side of the road and is like a small mall with all the different shops there.  You can get 5 cent coffee and $1.00 donuts.

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Now I can say I’ve been to Wall Drug.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

One last thing in Rapid City

Rapid City South Dakota is also known as the City of Presidents.  It’s the only city where you can see life-sized bronze statues of each president.  On each street corner on Main Street and St Joseph Street are the 42 presidents.  The statues are done by South Dakota artists.  The only requirement was that each artist extensively research the lives of each president.  They did not want to create static portraits of men standing on the street corners.  Each statue was to give some insight into the personality. 
Unfortunately it started raining a little on us, so we had to rush through some of them.  They are not in any kind of order.  There were 4 statues done each year starting in 2000 and the City of Presidents Board decided to do 2 of historical presidents and 2 of modern day.
GW Bush
George Bush
George HW Bush
George HW Bush
Thomas Jefferson
F Roosevelt
Franklin Roosevelt
T Roosevelt
Teddy Roosevelt
The first stop before you start walking the streets is the President Info Center.  This room is based on the oval office with a replicated seal in the center.  There is also a brief description of each president.  It is really worth walking around an looking at these statues.  I wish it hadn’t started to rain.  Very nicely done and it really brings something good to the downtown area of Rapid City. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Custer State Park

Yesterday we drove to Hill City and from there into Custer State Park.  The first part of the park was Needles Highway.  There were some amazing spires and tunnels.  We drove through the ‘eye of the needle”.

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The second part of the road was called Wildlife Loop. 

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The last road was called Iron Mountain Road.  This road goes through some more tunnels and some crazy pigtail turns where you go over part and then go right back under it. 

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You can’t see it very good, but that is Mt Rushmore ahead through that tunnel. 

We then went back to Mt Rushmore for the evening lighting ceremony.  Every evening they make a really big deal out of lighting the faces.  It takes an hour or more.  They start with patriotic music playing.  The ranger comes out and talks about every face.  Then they show a movie again about the presidents.  Once that is done, they ask each veteran down on the stage for the lowering of the flag.  Once the flag is down and folded, every person gives his name and branch of service.

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Very long day with a lot of driving.  But we had a great time.  Our time here is growing short.  Only a couple more days.  Any other ideas on what we should not miss? 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Founding Fathers Museum.

Rapid City has a brand new museum.  It’s called the Founding Fathers Museum.  The outside is a exact replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.  Inside, it's a recreation of the famous painting by John Trumbull of the presentation of the first draft of the Declaration of Independence to the 2nd Continental Congress.
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Around the outer edge of the room, there is a picture with a short history of everyone of the members of the 2nd Continental Congress.  There were 5 of those members who didn’t sign the declaration.  Those 56 who signed, risked charges of treason.
The museum is very well done and worth a stop.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Crazy Horse

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In 1947, Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear invited sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to the Black Hills of South Dakota to carve Crazy Horse.  The pose for the carving is said to be in response to the white man asking Crazy Horse where his lands are now.  His response was to point and say “My lands are where my dead lie buried”.

Korczak was 40 years old at the time and had $174 to his name.  He felt that this should be built by the interested public and not with federal money.  He twice turned down offers for federal funding.  He also knew that this was a project that would not be finished in his lifetime, so he left detailed plans to be used to continue the carving.  His wife, Ruth and seven of their children continue working with the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation to continue his work. 

There is quite a complex here at the memorial.  One daughter runs the gift shop while another runs the restaurant.  Sons continue to work on the carving.  There is also a Indian University on the grounds. 

DSC01455 We also took time to watch and listen to this indian dancer.  This performer not only did some of the dances, but also explained what the dance represented.  One of the most interesting dance he did was called a “grass dance”  He explained that this dance was done to stomp down the prairie grass so that the tipi’s could be erected.  He was asked how long he thought the grass dance lasted at Little Big Horn.  His response was about 3 days.  This dance was continued until the last tipi was erected.


It’s a very interesting place and well worth the entrance fee. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Yesterday we took the trip to Deadwood.  I wanted to see the bar where Wild Bill Hickok was shot and where he and Calamity Jane were buried. We took a bus tour of Deadwood that took us up the hill (very steep) to Mount Moriah Cemetery.  Some myths regarding the two were busted on the tour.  Calamity Jane and Wild Bill were never lovers.  He was married and had come to Deadwood to make his fortune.  Calamity Jane was on the same stage arriving in Deadwood.  Wild Bill was only in Deadwood for a couple of months before he was shot in the back of the head by Jack McCall. 

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DSC01398 Calamity Jane was a large woman who dressed like a man.  She loved to drink and was drunk most of the time.  However, during a smallpox epidemic she sobered up and took care of the sick.  She never lost a patient.  One child she cared for, was of the Gray family.  They were a very wealthy family in Deadwood and when she died, they paid for her to be buried next to Wild Bill. 

After the tour, we walked around the town a little and then went into Saloon #10 to watch a reenactment of the shooting of Wild Bill.





Ed was chosen to play the part of the bar tender.

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Wild Bill jumps onto the tour bus. 

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Still to go…Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Custer State park.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Devils Tower

This towering monument stands 865 feet.  Its was the nations first national monument dedicated by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906.  Indian legend says that one day while the tribe camped nearby, a bear started chasing a group of girls.  They jumped on a rock three feet high and began to pray, “Rock, take pity on us; Rock save us”.  The rock heard them and began to elongate itself upwards, pushing them higher and higher.  The bear clawed and jumped at the sides of the rock, broke his claws and fell to the earth.  The rock pushed the girls into the sky where they are to this day in a group called the seven little stars (the Pleiades).

When you look at the tower it looks as if it has been clawed by a bear.  The campground we stayed at was a KOA.  We were going to stay in the park at their campground, but when we went through it we saw we couldn’t fit.  They didn’t give any length limit on their website so the KOA was the only alternative.  However that evening they did show the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” so that was kind of cool to watch it while looking at the tower!

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Before you get to the visitor center you pass through Prairie Dog Town.  Its just an open field but there must have been hundreds of them all over.

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We moved on to Rapid City on Sunday.  We had reservations starting on Monday but I was able to get them changed so we could go in on Sunday.  So now we are settled here at Hart Ranch, an RPI park.  This is the nicest park we have ever been to.  Totally paved roads, and cement pads.  We are here for 2 weeks now to explore the area.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Little Bighorn Battlefield

This battle should never have happened.  A scout even told Custer that there were more Indians than he had bullets.  If he had waited until all the other regiments came together they probably would have been okay. We will never know.

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The white marker with the black front is where Custer fell.  These were the soldiers that fell on what is now called Last Stand Hill.  He was removed from Little Bighorn and is buried at West Point. 


Such a vast open area.  In 1984, a grass fire went through the area.  After the fire, a lot of artifacts where revealed.  Archaeologists were able to track a lot of the movements through these findings.  All over the battlefield you see these white markers.  Most of them in twos.  They probably fought back to back.

They have an Indian Memorial.

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A horse cemetery.  It seems a lot of the soldiers had shot their horses to use as barricades.


We also stopped at Custer Museum.  This is right down the road from where we are staying in a town called Garryowen.  Garryowen was the tune that was played as the 7th Calvary marched.  Outside they have a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that was dedicated 50 years after the battle.  Actually it came about because some road workers uncovered the remains.  It’s believed that it was one of Lt Col Reno’s men.  They know it was a soldier because they found buttons.  The black and white photo is the actual dedication.  The indian is believed to be the one who shot Custer and the man is a survivor of the battle.  Inside the tomb they laid a hatchet among other artifacts.  This is where the term “bury the hatchet” came from.  Notice the man is not looking directly at the indian.

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I’m really glad that we came this way.  It was a fun day.