First of all, congratulations to Nat who guessed correctly that The Devil’s Tower is indeed from Close Encounters of the Third Kind! Your ten points are in the post Nat!!
It’s been really hot today, 94ºF (34ºC) so we’ve had to make sure we were drinking plenty of fluids.
We started the day with a visit to Wall Drug. Now the Americans reading the blog will know what that is but for those back home, Wall Drug is the Wall Drug Store and is a tourist attraction located located in the town of Wall, South Dakota. It is a shopping mall consisting of a drug store, gift shop, restaurants and various other stores. Unlike a traditional shopping mall, all the stores at Wall Drug operate under a single entity instead of being individually run stores. The New York Times has described Wall Drug as “a sprawling tourist attraction of international renown that takes in more than $10 million a year and draws some two million annual visitors to a remote town.”
The small town drugstore made its first step towards fame when it was purchased by Ted Hustead in 1931 with a $3000 legacy. He bought Wall Drug, located in a 231-person town in what he referred to as “the middle of nowhere,” and strove to make a living. Business was very slow until his wife, Dorothy, got the idea to advertise free ice water to parched travellers heading to the newly-opened Mount Rushmore monument 60 miles (97 km) to the west. From that time on business was brisk. Billboards advertising the establishment can be seen for hundreds of miles throughout South Dakota and the neighbouring states.
After ‘buying up the place’ which believe me is very easy to do, we headed off towards the Badlands National Park but along the way we were sidetracked to see one of the most moving things I’ve seen in a long while ………. the Prairie Homestead.
The Prairie Homestead was the original home, known as a sod home, of Mr and Mrs Ed Brown who homesteaded the 160 acres in 1909. All but one of the buildings have survived and just needed a small amount of restoration to bring them back to how they looked when they were originally built! Homesteading was a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. Use of the term in the U.S. dates back to the Homestead Act of 1862.
Mr Brown was 55 when he moved part of his family, his wife Alice and grown son, Charles, in a wagon from Nebraska to the Badlands of South Dakota. After 18 months of working the land he was able to pay $80 and receive a patent on the land. This he did.
The home and outbuildings were literally dug out of the ground and it makes you appreciate what hard working, fearless people these pioneers were. Visual memories of homestead days are fast becoming extinct. These pioneers played a very important part in setting the Great Plains of America.
The home had not been lived in since 1949 when In 1962 it was bought by Keith and Dorothy Drew. It was Dorothy who had the desire and vision to restore the Prairie Homestead for future generations to enjoy.
One strange thing we saw today at The Homestead were white Prairie Dogs!!
After spending an enjoyable hour there we moved on to the Badlands National Park. It consists of 242,756 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. For 11,000 years, Native Americans have used this area for their hunting grounds.
About 75 million years ago the area was covered by a shallow sea teeming with life. In today’s Badlands the bottom of that sea appears as a greyish-black sedimentary rock called Pierre shale and the layer is a rich source of fossils.
Tomorrow we leave Rapid City and drive to Sioux Falls. This is just a stopover on the road to our next main stop, Winterset, Iowa …….. a film stop! Another ten points will be awarded for the first person to tell me which film that may be!!