H is for History – #atozchallenge

One cannot travel any road in America or Canada without running into some sort of historical site, monument or building.  That is part of the fun of a back road adventure.  Our country of 2017 is defined in great part by the history of the country dating back to the 1600s (and earlier if you count the Native Americans).

Camp Disappointment west of Cut Bank< Montana looks out towards the mountains of Glacier National Park.  This is one of many Lewis and Clark Monuments across the United States.
Monument in Beachville, Ontario commemorating the first baseball game in Canada.

Dotting the roads of America are historical markers that tell about events that occurred in that exact location or nearby. There are literally 1000s of these. In the eastern US many of them are about Civil War incidents while in the west many are related to Indian Wars, Lewis and Clark or pioneers.  They are often interesting to stop and read.  As a History/Geography major in college, I have found these to be a sort of “roadside wikipedia.”

Historical Marker about West Columbia, TX
Fort Steuben Historical Site, Steubenville, OH
The Overland Trail historic Sign
Pound Gap Historical Sign on the Virginia/Kentucky Border
Rugby, ND in 2014
Alligator Blues Marker in Alligator, MS – One of many markers along the Blues Highway in Mississippi
Plaque describing the naming of the roads This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX
Meriwether Lewis meets John Clark at the Falls of the Ohio in Clarksville, IN

When traveling through the heart of the country, one can come across a myriad of monuments and historical sites dedicated to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark…better known as just Lewis Clark.  From May 1804 to September 1806, these two, accompanied by 29 or 30 others, in what was named by then President Thomas Jefferson as the “Corps of Discovery.” They left Camp Dubois (near St. Louis) and ventured westward to the Pacific Coast.  In my travels I have come across dozens of monuments, plaques, museums and other places all dedicated to or referencing this amazing expedition.  Their pioneer spirit has always amazed me.

One of a number of Lewis and Clark Murals in Independence, MO
A plaque commemorating a Lewis and Clark Campsite near Elk Point, South Dakota
Pioneer Relief Sculpture at Council Bluffs Library

Of course, after them went the pioneers.  There were those who followed the Oregon Trail.  Others, chiefly the Mormons, forged their own trail, now called the Mormon trail.  In the south there was the famed Santa Fe Trail.  Then, along the way there were other smaller, lesser known trails, such as the Oyate Trail in South Dakota, and others.  Travel the roads that follow these trails and an abundance of unique history can be seen.  As a member of the LDS Church (Mormon) I have been able to visit many church historical sites.

A sculpture of a pioneer/trapper overlooks the Shields Valley in Montana
Pioneer brotherhood – Pioneer Memorial, Omaha, Nebraska
Pioneer Monument – Opal, WY
Life size Pioneer Diorama on outside of the National Oregon/California Trail Center in Montpelier, ID
LDS Church founder Joseph Smith’s Cabin in Palmyra, NY
Martins Cove in Wyoming, part of the Mormon Handcart Trail
Sumoflam and Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park

Across a good portion of the southeast and all the way into Ohio and Pennsylvania, one will come across a plethora of Civil War related monuments, historical sites and otherwise.   Many sites have annual Civil War reenactments.

The big parks such as Vicksburg and Gettysburg are huge and have a ton of history.  But there are smaller ones, such as Perryville Battlefield in Kentucky that are unique in their historic perspective.

Sculpture at Vicksburg
Gettysburg Address Commemorative Sign, July 1998
Seth and Solomon with Civil War reenactors in Perryville, KY October 1994
Perryville Battlefield ReEnactment
One of four bronze statues that surround the large Civil War monument in Cleveland, OH. Called “At Short Range” it is a representation of the Artillery Group

In the far eastern parts of the United States one comes across places like the Jamestown Settlement and Williamsburg.  There are many others.

Kids in the Jamestown Settlement in August 1995
Kids take over the ship at Jamestown, VA – August 1995
Lucille Ball Birthplace

For fun, many cities have the “Birthplace of …” signs when you enter their small towns.  These could be famous actors, historical figures or athletes.  Typically there are monuments or statues.  I have come across many of these.  They are always a fun little side adventure.

I have come across many of these over the years.  Its always fun to “discover” the birthplaces.  (Ironically, Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, NY…not the same as Jamestown, VA which I posted above.)  Some of the “birthplaces” are a bit on the corny side.

Sumoflam at Judy Garland birthplace in Grand Rapids, MN
Birthplace of John Wayne, Winterset, Iowa
Dean Martin mural in his birthplace of Steubenville, OH painted by Robert Dever in 1998
Singing Perry Como statue in downtown Canonsburg, PA
A couple of my children at the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in the 1990s
Birthplace of Kermit the Frog, Leland, MS
Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk in Riverside, IA
Washington County Courthouse in Washington, PA

Then, of course, there are the historical buildings.  Hundreds of unique courthouses and their fascinating architecture can be seen in diverse little towns and counties.  There are old churches large and small.  And many long forgotten dilapidated old buildings.  All of them tell some sort of story about the place.

I have visited dozens of courthouses around the country.  I love the old architecture.  I have some favorites.  Some are more interesting than others. I have added a few below.

 

Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX
Woodstock, Ontario City Hall
Old courthouse in Wharton, TX
Courthouse in Buena Vista, CO
Madison County Courthouse, Winterset, Iowa
Lit Pillars at Courthouse in Columbia, MO
Old Church “San Xavier del Bac” in Tucson
Sumoflam and Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
Sumoflam Gothic at the Grant Wood American Gothic House in Eldon, IA
Old Prairie School House on Smith-Frisno Road west of Havre, MT. I wanted this one in black and white…
Mustard Display – Plastic Bottles – Mustard Museum in Wisconsin

 

Finally, there are the many “oddball” or “quirky” historical sites and objects.  One never knows what they will run into in a small town.  A quaint historical museum? An oddball monument? A unique cemetery?

 

 

I have had fun discovering historical sites, quirky museums and other fun stuff.  Here are a few below.

Sod House Museum, Gothenburg, NE
Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, WV
Canadian Warplane Museum in Hamilton, Ontario
“Where’s the Beef?” memorabilia from the famed advertising campaign in the Wendy’s Museum in Dublin, OH
At the Idaho Potato Museum in 2013
My son Seth at the SPAM Museum in Austin, MN July 2004
The Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi
Kregel Windmill Factory Museum in Nebraska City, NE
The Rockpile Museum in Gillette, WY

History is the fabric of our country!

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Car Art: Cars in art around the US




DSC_9365One of the more unique American traditions along the Less Beaten Paths is the recycling of auto parts for art. Indeed, a couple of the most famous roadside attractions in the US are made from cars. This post will look at a few pieces of “car art” that I have seen over the years and, then, at the end, I will note a few others that are out there and worth a visit from all of us — some that I hope to get to over the next couple of years.

"Spindle" by Dustin Shuler was in Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, Illinois until it was removed in May 2008
“Spindle” by Dustin Shuler was in Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, Illinois until it was removed in May 2008

Probably one of the two most famous Car Art pieces that I am aware of, this car shish-kabob called “Spindle” and created by artist Dustin Shuler (1948-2010), became ultra famous after being featured in Wayne’s World. It has also been featured in on the cover of a book (called Oddball Illinois: A Guide to Some Really Strange Places), on postcards, state tourist brochures, and maps. It was originally commissioned by the shopping center owner, David Bermant, who donated his BMW car to be placed second from the top of the sculpture.Shuler himself owned the red 1967 VW Beetle that crowned the sculpture.The foundation of the sculpture reached nearly 30 feet into the ground; the cost of erecting it was over $75,000.

Sumoflam and Spindle in September 2007
Sumoflam and Spindle in September 2007

The cars on a spike never did res well with some of the citizens of Berwyn, Illinois, and thus in 1990 they voted overwhelmingly for it to be removed. Nevertheless, the Mayor argued that it drew tourism to town and had become an icon. The owner of Cermak’s Shopping Center argued the same. But, alas, in July 2007, it was announced that the shopping center was to be redeveloped and that the site of the sculpture was earmarked for a new Walgreens store. New controversy ensued and finally, in May of 2008 the structure was taken down.

The impaled cars on the spindle, from top to bottom, were:

  1. 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, red
  2. 1976 BMW New Class, silver License Plate reads “DAVE”
  3. 1981 Ford Escort, blue
  4. 1974 or 1973 Mercury Capri, green
  5. 1978 Ford Mustang, white over blue
  6. 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix, maroon or burgundy
  7. 1980 or 1979 Ford LTD, light yellow
  8. 1981 or 1979 Mercury Grand Marquis, black
Spindle as seen from the shopping center.
Spindle as seen from the shopping center.

When I was at Cermak’s in 2007 I actually made a video of Spindle along with some of the other art at Cermak’s. Here it is….

Perhaps just as famous is the “Cadillac Ranch” near Amarillo, Texas. Like the “Spindle“, this site has had controversy and has been featured in movies, advertisements, comics, etc. It is most certainly one of the most well known Roadside Attractions in the U.S.

Cadillac Ranch as seen from Interstate 40 west of Amarillo, Texas
Cadillac Ranch as seen from Interstate 40 west of Amarillo, Texas

It was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm, and it consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, supposedly at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, Texas
Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas
Sumoflam at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
Sumoflam at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas

The cars have gone through numerous iterations…completely black, completely white, stc., when used for ads and commercials. But, soon thereafter, the tourists with the spray paint cans make their way to make their marks on the cars. So, this ends up being a “stationary attraction” always in a state of change.

Bottom of Cadillac at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo
Underside of Cadillac at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo

Due to the popularity of Cadillac Ranch, there have been a few imitators, none of which I have been to yet, but hope to get to sometime in the near future. These include:

VW Slug Bug Ranch – Conway, Texas

Slug Bug Ranch - this photo comes from wondersofbackroads.wordpress.com
Slug Bug Ranch – this photo comes from wondersofbackroads.wordpress.com

The Slug Bug Ranch consists of five VW Beetles buried nose first in the ground. There is also an older 1930s car on the site. As with Cadillac Ranch, people have left their mark in spray paint.

 

 

 

Combine City – Canyon, Texas

Combine Ranch
Combine Ranch – photo borrowed from Lovin Our Life Blog

This place even has their own website (see combinecity.com). According to their site, “Combine City began with one Combine Harvester planted in the ground. Over time, that solitary Combine has welcomed 13 more. In total, 14 Combines are planted, standing as a tribute to the great nature of the West Texas farmer.” Unlike Cadillac Ranch and Slug Bug Ranch, Combine City does not allow folks to come in and spray paint.

 

Airstream Ranch – Dover, Florida

Airstream Ranch - located at Bates RV in Dover, Florida
Airstream Ranch – located at Bates RV in Dover, Florida

Indeed, this is not cars…it is Airstreams, but these are a great addition to this collection. These are located at Bates RV in Dover, Florida and have been the subject for many photos in the past. My good friend, the musician Antsy McClain has actually done a photo shoot here for some Trailer Park Troubadours stuff (see below).

 

Antsy McClain - Airstream Ranch
Antsy McClain – Airstream Ranch

Like Cadillac Ranch and Slug Bug Ranch, the Airstream Ranch has not been without controversy. Neighbors have argued that it was unsightly, but, ultimately, the Tourist Attraction and Art Factors won out.

Like the other sites, this attracts tourists from all over and has been used in advertisements, etc.

The historic value of Airstreams in travel always leads to an interest in these aluminum domiciles on wheels. There are rallies all over the country and one can always see them on the road. Indeed, many are happy to be “Living in Aluminum” and following the Aluminum Rule – “Thou Shalt Enjoy the Ride”

 

Henry’s Rabbit Ranch – Staunton, Illinois

Henry's Rabbit Ranch - Staunton, Illinois
Henry’s Rabbit Ranch – Staunton, Illinois

Henry’s Rabbit Ranch is one of those iconic Route 66 stops on the back roads of America. Located just west of Interstate 55 in southern Illinois (and a short drive north of St. Louis), it lies along the old Route 66. Along with tons of Route 66 memorabilia, they have a set of buried cars.

 

Carhenge – Alliance, Nebraska

Carhenge - May 2014
Carhenge – May 2014

As with the others above, there are buried cars, but, in this case the creators of Carhenge tried to emulate the famed Stonehenge of England. They too have their own website, including a history of the Jim Reinders creation. This 1987 piece of Car Art has 38 automobiles and there are other pieces of Car Art on “Car Art Reserve”. Like the locations above, Carhenge has been the subject of numerous commercials and film productions.

All of the locations above are big tourist attractions for the back roads adventurer seeking the offbeat and quirky. But, there are many other smaller pieces of car art and/or “car displays” around the country, many of which I have had the opportunity to see. Here are a few.

Flattened Car - Cermaks Plaza, Berwyn, Illinois
Pinto Pelt – Cermaks Plaza, Berwyn, Illinois

The flattened car (called “Pinto Pelt“) is another creation by Spindle artist Dustin Shuler and is also located in Cermak’s Plaza. This too went the way of the world apparently in the reconstruction project in Berwyn’s once famous shopping center.

Art Car Museum - Houston, Texas
Art Car Museum – Houston, Texas

The Art Car Museum in Houston, Texas is dedicated to true Art Cars, those cars that have had art added to them. According to the “Art Car Manifesto“, “an art car is a motor-driven vehicle which a car artist alters in such a way as to suit his own aesthetic. In other words, the artist either adds or subtracts materials of his own choosing to or from the factory model or he may renovate an earlier model to revive a beauty and style that once was. The result is a vehicle which conveys new meaning through design, mechanical or structural changes, renovation, and/or the addition of new images, symbols or collage elements.”

Art Car Museum
Art Car Museum – Houston, Texas

The Art Car Museum website has a great Photo Gallery of some of the more unique cars featured at the museum. When I visited in 2010 the museum was not open so I didn’t get a chance to get any good car shots. But, along the way I have found a couple on my own…

Art Car at Third Street Stuff - Lexington, Kentucky
Art Car at Third Street Stuff – Lexington, Kentucky
Close up of Art Car at Third Street Stuff
Close up of Art Car at Third Street Stuff
Art Car at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Art Car at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Close up of spider on Art Car at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Close up of spider on Art Car at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington

Some of the more unique pieces utilizing cars as art that I have come across in my travels:

The Smoke Sax - Houston, Texas
The Smoke Sax – Houston, Texas

The Smoke Sax” was built in 1993 by artist Bob Wade of Austin, TX. It is 70 feet tall and is made of an oil field pipe, an upside down Volkswagen Beetle, beer kegs, canoe, hub caps, a surf board and chrome. Until March 2013 this was located at the Horn Bar and Grille on Richmond Avenue in Houston, TX. However, in March 2013 it was disassembled and will be eventually added to the unique folk art center called the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. They also are the sponsor of the Houston Art Car Parade.

VW Base of the Smoke Sax
VW Base of the Smoke Sax
VW Hood Sax Valves on Smoke Sax
VW Hood Sax Valves on Smoke Sax

Clear across the country in Wolf Creek, Oregon an artist has created two Spider Bugs out of old Volkswagens. Roadside America covered these and, it turns out that these are not the only ones around. There are actually dozens of them. The website Weburbanist has a fine page dedicated to a number of these from around the U.S. including Oklahoma, Idaho, California, Ontario, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and even in the Netherlands and New Zealand.

Spider Volkswagen - Wolf Creek, Oregon
Spider Volkswagen – Wolf Creek, Oregon
Spider Car - Wolf Creek, Oregon
Spider Karmann Ghia – Wolf Creek, Oregon

Heading back eastward one can venture into Kadoka, South Dakota, near the Badlands National Park and see a unique piece of art made from car parts, including a smashed car as a base…

"Scrappy" the Scrap Metal Buck by Brett Prang - Kadoka, South Dakota
“Scrappy” the Scrap Metal Buck by Brett Prang – Kadoka, South Dakota

Then there is the old truck with a Giant Potato on it at The Spud Drive-In in Driggs, Idaho

The Spud Drive-In - Teton Valley, Idaho
The Spud Drive-In – Driggs, Idaho

More emulation of Cadillac Ranch can be found at the now closed down Rio Brazos Music Hall in Granbury, Texas

Rio Brazos Dance Hall - Granbury, Texas (now closed)
Rio Brazos Music Hall – Granbury, Texas (now closed)
Old Trucks - Rio Brazos Music Hall - Granbury, Texas
Old Trucks – Rio Brazos Music Hall – Granbury, Texas

Commerce, Oklahoma, one of those Route 66 touristy towns has used parts of cars for advertising

Car Advertising in Commerce, Oklahoma
Car Advertising in Commerce, Oklahoma

Then there are the places with Cars on roofs and signs and walls to draw people in:

Big Daddy's Restaurant - Lake Norman, North Carolina
Big Daddy’s Restaurant – Lake Norman, North Carolina

Big Daddy’s is located in the heart of NASCAR Country in North Carolina. And to prove it they have a number of cars on their roof and on their lot.

Big Daddy's - Lake Norman, North Carolina
Big Daddy’s – Lake Norman, North Carolina

The Route 26 Mart in Scottsbluff, Nebraska touts itself as an Americana Convenience Mart and has on old finned Chevy on its roof to pull you in….

Route 26 Mart - Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Route 26 Mart – Scottsbluff, Nebraska

The Pioneer Auto Show in Murdo, South Dakota tries to draw you in with advertising some of the unique cars…

Pioneer Auto Show - Murdo, South Dakota
Pioneer Auto Show – Murdo, South Dakota

Angel’s Diner in McAlester, Oklahoma uses old cars to advertise their 60’s themed restaurant and Happy Days Motel.

Angel's Diner - McAlester, Oklahoma
Angel’s Diner – McAlester, Oklahoma

Of course, what would a Car Art post be without limos with Longhorns on their hoods??

Longhorn Limo - at Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo, Texas
Longhorn Limo – at Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo, Texas

The Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo, home of the 72 Oz steak, offers rides in their Longhorn Limos.

Longhorn Limos at Big Texan Steak House, Amarillo, Texas
Longhorn Limos at Big Texan Steak House, Amarillo, Texas

I have run across a couple of places where cars have been integrated into the buildings. Here is one example from western Oregon:

Blue Banana Espesso Bar in Lostine, Oregon
Blue Banana Espesso Bar in Lostine, Oregon

I would be remiss if I didn’t include the iconic and well known Nash AirFlyte that sits outside of Antique Archaeology in Le Claire, Iowa, better known as the home of the History Channel’s American Pickers.

Nash AirFlyte at Antique Archaeology
Nash AirFlyte at Antique Archaeology
Sumoflam with old Nash at Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa
Sumoflam with old Nash at Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa

The only Corvette Factory in the world is in my home state of Kentucky, in Bowling Green. They are also the home of the Corvette Museum and they have a nice one on a pedestal…

Old Corvette on pedestal at Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
Old Corvette on pedestal at Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky

Finally, there are all of those old trucks and cars that scatter the landscape in yards and fields around the U.S. These can be seen on back roads and some are obviously used as yard decor…

Old Pickup in Cumberland Gap, Kentucky
Old Pickup in Cumberland Gap, Kentucky
Old truck in Sisters, Oregon
Old truck in Sisters, Oregon
Old Car with mannikin in Fletcher, Ohio
Old Car with mannequin in Fletcher, Ohio
Old Car at old gas station in Oakdale, Ontario, Canada
Old Car at old gas station in Oakdale, Ontario, Canada
Old pickup with swans in Disputanta, Kentucky
Old pickup with swans in Disputanta, Kentucky
Old car in Chester, Montana
Old car in Chester, Montana
Old cars in trees near Albatross, Missouri
Old cars in trees near Albatross, Missouri
Old truck with old signs in Bellevue, Idaho
Old truck with old signs in Bellevue, Idaho
Old car in Blue, Oklahoma
Old car in Blue, Oklahoma
Swamp Thing Chevy pickup in Uncertain, Texas
Swamp Thing Chevy pickup in Uncertain, Texas
Old truck near Rexburg, Idaho
Old truck near Rexburg, Idaho
Old car and truck in Elk Point, South Dakota
Old car and truck in Elk Point, South Dakota

I have a dozen more of these, but I think you get the “pictures.” So, get out and Enjoy the Ride and be on the watch out for those old vehicles that helped someone else Enjoy the Ride in the past!!!

Some roadside assistance provided by friends at……

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South Dakota Backroads: The Oyate Trail across southern South Dakota

Land of the Pheasants - southern South Dakota
Land of the Pheasants – southern South Dakota

In early April 2013 I had the opportunity to drive across the Hi-Line (US Route 2) in Northern Montana and then made our way to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore and all the across South Dakota to Mitchell and the Corn Palace.   With another work trip to Idaho, I took a different route and, similar to the Hi-Line Drive, I mainly took US Route 18 (also known as the Oyate Trail) as it crosses most of South Dakota.  It goes through many small and unique towns.

Oyate Trail
Oyate Trail

The Oyate Trail is a 388 mile route that generally follows SD 50 and US Route 18 across southern South Dakota.  The name is derived from the Lakota word “Oyate”, which means “a people or a nation” and “Ochanku”, which is Lakota for “trail.”  Thus, the trail of nations, initially meaning the trail to the various Lakota Nations — the Yankton, the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Sioux nations.  But, the meaning is even more complex with the coming of the Europeans and the mixture of their cultures along the trail.


Oyate Trail across South Dakota

Elk Point, SD - "Where South Dakota Begins"
Elk Point, SD – “Where South Dakota Begins”

I started off in Kentucky on May 31 and spent the evening near Omaha, NE.  On June 1 I headed north towards South Dakota, entering South Dakota in Sioux City on I-29.  I took the freeway into the small town of Elk Point, another of the many places that Lewis and Clark had visited.  They made camp nearby the area in August 1804.

Downtown Elk Point, South Dakota
Downtown Elk Point, South Dakota

My main stop in Elk Point was at Edgar’s Soda Fountain, a throwback to the good old days.  Originally opened in Centerville in 1906 in a drug store, the soda fountain was taken out of the drug store in the 1960s.  It eventually was rediscovered and rebuilt by the granddaughter of the drug store owner.  They have even brought out the old manuals and have some concoctions directly from those manuals, such as The Standard Manual of Soda and Other Beverages.

Edgar's Soda Fountain Bar
Edgar’s Soda Fountain Bar

Owner Barb Wurtz was there and the staff was ultra friendly.  They had an old-fashioned candy case, nice neon, original wooden booths and bar seating.  Its a great place to take a quick break off the road.

The Fountain
The Fountain
Old Soda Bottles
Old Soda Bottles
Outdoor Signage at Edgar's
Outdoor Signage at Edgar’s
Candy Counter at Edgar's
Candy Counter at Edgar’s

I also wanted to drop by Edgar’s with my good friend and amazing guitarist Edgar Cruz in mind.  So, “Welcome to Edgar’s!”

Welcome to Edgar's
Welcome to Edgar’s

After consulting with the great staff at Edgar’s, I determined to make my way along US Route 18 (the Oyate Trail), which would take me across the lush prairies of southern South Dakota and into some small and unique towns.  After visiting the Lewis and Clark Campsite monument n Elk Point, I headed north on I 29 to Exit 47 near Beresford and then west to Viborg.  The Oyate Trail actually starts in Vermillion, SD, just NW of Elk Point, but I wanted to hit Viborg first.

Lewis and Clark Campsite - Elk Point, SD
Lewis and Clark Campsite – Elk Point, SD

After leaving I-29, I headed west on SD 46 to Viborg, South Dakota.

Velkommen to Viborg
Velkommen to Viborg

Viborg is a town of around 700 and was settled by Danish immigrants in the 1860s.  The town is named for Viborg in Denmark.  The town was originally named Daneville, but with the coming of the railroad in the 1890s, the residents had to move a bit north so they could be along the railroad.  Thus Viborg was born and was finally incorporated in August 1903.

Welcome to Viborg
Welcome to Viborg
Kountry Kookin' Cafe - Viborg, SD
Kountry Kookin’ Cafe – Viborg, SD

As I drive through town I got glimpses of the culture.  The Kountry Kookin’ Cafe, with its built in neon sign above the door, gave me cause for chuckle.  The window on the right says “Dis is vare Sven loves the dinners” and the window on the left says “Dis is vare Ole gets the pie.”  Had there been time, it could have been “Dis is vare Sumoflam gets the lunch!”

Viborg Movie Theater
Lund Theater in Viborg

Like many small towns, there are the old fashioned theaters that thrived in the 1950s and 1960s.  But these are a dying breed so I try to get shots of them when I go through these small towns.

Decorative Glazed Block Silo near Viborg, SD
Decorative Glazed Block Grain Silo near Viborg, SD

On the outskirts of Viborg I came across this unusual, yet decorative grain silo.  As I drive the back roads of this country, whether in Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin or elsewhere, silos are a common site.  Yet, I don’t recall ever seeing brick silos like this one, nor do I recall the decorative nature.  After a bit of internet research (thank you Google!!) I have learned that these are Glazed Block Silos.  They are apparently very common in parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.  I am assuming that they are of Scandinavian origin, though I have not yet found anything definitive.

Horses Frolicking near Viborg, SD
Horses Frolicking near Viborg, SD

Living in Lexington I see plenty of horses.  But, I couldn’t help but notice this happy trio in the lush prairie grasses near Viborg.  I sat and watched them for a few minutes as they frolicked and played.

Old remnants of yesteryear near Viborg
Old remnants of yesteryear near Viborg — I love old cars!

From Viborg I headed straight north on SD 19 past Swan Lake to US 18 and began my trek across the state.

Turkey Ridge Store - Hurley, SD
Turkey Ridge Store – Hurley, SD
Meridian Corner Steak House at US 18 and US 81 junction
Meridian Corner at US 18 and US 81 junction – Freeman, SD

I passed the two establishments along the road.  Both were basically in the middle of nowhere.  Meridian Corner has a fairly active Facebook Page.  They are apparently quite popular and have T-shirts, etc.

Menno, SD
Menno, SD
Menno, South Dakota
Menno, South Dakota

I rolled into Menno, SD next. Menno was settled by German-Russian immigrants around 1874.  Continuing west my next stop was in Tripp, SD.  This was the first Tripp I have experienced on my many trips!!  The town slogan “Easy to Find, Hard to Leave”.  For me, its as my friend Antsy McClain says “Its All in the Trip”.

Welcome to Tripp, South Dakota
Welcome to Tripp, South Dakota

Tripp recently became a destination for a group of Amish families that moved from Wisconsin in 2010.  This, of course, brings the need for a blacksmith.  The name on the barn reminded me of the Amish, so I checked and indeed, as the link above explains, the first Amish in South Dakota are in this area.

Heine Prien - Blacksmith - Tripp, SD
Heine Prien – Blacksmith – Tripp, SD
Flag painted in Window - Tripp, SD
Flag painted in Window – Tripp, SD
Old Neon Sign - Tripp, SD
Old Neon Sign – Tripp, SD
My version of a John Deere ad - outside of Tripp, SD
My version of a John Deere ad – outside of Tripp, SD

I continued west on US 18 passing by farmland and a few trees.  I found one set of trees that struck me…these were near the junction with US 281, where US 18 heads due south towards Ravinia, SD.

Trees on US 18 near US 281
Trees on US 18 near US 281
Farmland near Ravinia, SD
Farmland near Ravinia, SD

US 18/US 281 again heads west near the base of Lake Andes, which is a National Wildlife Refuge.  As I drive along the southern border of the lake, I saw a huge flock of white birds.  From my viewpoint I thought they were swans, but I decided to take a closer look so I took a drive into the small park just before getting to the town of Lake Andes, SD.  I was thrilled as I got closer and discovered it was a huge flock of pelicans!!

Pelicans in Lake Andes, SD
Pelicans in Lake Andes, SD
More Pelicans - Lake Andes, SD
More Pelicans – Lake Andes, SD
Pelicans taking flight - Lake Andes, SD
Pelicans taking flight – Lake Andes, SD

Seeing the Pelicans was a real thrill for me as these were birds that I have never had a close encounter with.  While at the lake, I also saw some beautiful purple wildflowers.

Purple Wildflowers near Lake Andes, SD
Purple Dame’s Rocket Wildflowers near Lake Andes, SD

From Lake Andes I continued south on US 18/281 to cross over the dam at the Randall Creek Recreation Area.  At the top of the hill past the dam I had an excellent view of the Old Fort Randall Cemetery.

Old Fort Randall Cemetery
Old Fort Randall Cemetery

US 18 continued west, then southwest for a while and then began heading northwest again towards the town of Bonesteel.

The road goes on forever - US 18 in southern South Dakota
The road goes on forever – US 18 in southern South Dakota
More winding roads in South Dakota
More winding road in South Dakota

The town of Bonesteel was basically the first town of many on the actual Oyate Trail that I would hit on this drive.  Bonesteel has an interesting name, named after H.E. Bonesteel and hasjust about 300 people.

Bonesteel Welcome Sign
Bonesteel Welcome Sign
Battle of Bonesteel Commenmorative Sign
Battle of Bonesteel Commenmorative Sign
Bonesteel Mural
Bonesteel Mural

The railroad first made its way into Bonesteel in 1902.  there were a limited number of registrations for land ownership and eventually many of the prospective homesteaders fought leading to what was called “the Battle of Bonesteel.”

Bonesteel Mural
Bonesteel Mural
Another Bonesteel Mural
Another Bonesteel Mural

On the outskirts of town is a small little restaurant.  Great name…

TeePee Cafe - Bonesteel, SD
TeePee Cafe – Bonesteel, SD

The next town on the trail was Burke, SD, another town with about 600 people.  As I approached town I ran into a place called Rooster Tales Hunting Service.  They had a unique sign and even a patriotic hay bale!  Turns out that they have a Pheasant hunting service.

Rooster Tales Hunting Service - Burke, SD
Rooster Tales Hunting Service – Burke, SD
Rooster Tales Mailbox in a milk can
Rooster Tales Mailbox in a milk can
Patriotic Hay Bale at Rooster Tales
Patriotic Hay Bale at Rooster Tales

This part of South Dakota is considered the pheasant capital of the U.S. (including a number of towns competing for the title).  So, despite the small towns, there are hotels and accommodations for pheasant hunting enthusiasts.

Old style motel - Hillcrest Motel - Burke, SD
Old style motel – Hillcrest Motel – Burke, SD
Burke, SD Water Tower
Burke, SD Water Tower

Despite its size, Burke is also home to the Burke Stampede Rodeo, supposedly the largest amateur rodeo in the Midwest.

Burke Stampede Rodeo - Burke, SD
Burke Stampede Rodeo – Burke, SD

The next major stop on the road is Gregory, South Dakota.  This is in the midst of pheasant country.  South Dakota is the pheasant capital of the U.S. and this area of the Oyate Trail is one of the centers of the pheasant hunting world (and, in Gregory there is also a Gorilla or two….)

Welcome to Gregory
Welcome to Gregory
Gregory - Home of the Gorillas
Gregory – Home of the Gorillas
Gregory Wall Art
Gregory Wall Art
Mary Bob's Bar - Gregory, Idaho
Mary Bob’s Bar – Gregory, Idaho

I got a kick out Mary Bob’s Bar — out in Kentucky we hear of “Jim Bob” all the time, but I have never heard of “Mary Bob.”

Hipp Theater - Gregory, SD
Hipp Theatre – Gregory, SD

The Hipp Theatre in Gregory is a community volunteer run theatre, but does show up to date first run movies.

Gregory - The Happening Place
Gregory – The Happening Place

Then there is the giant pheasant….

Giant Pheasant - Gregory
Giant Pheasant – Gregory, SD
Sumoflam and Giant Pheasant
Sumoflam and Giant Pheasant

Apparently Gregory is “The ground-zero of pheasantdom” according to Fortune Magazine in 1992.

Pheasant Sign - Gregory, SD
Pheasant Sign – Gregory, SD

Next stop was not too far — Dallas, South Dakota

Welcome to Dallas, SD
Welcome to Dallas, South Dakota

Dallas is a really small town but has some interesting things…

Water tower in Dallas -- in the middle of the road
Water tower in Dallas — in the middle of the road
Frank Day's Lodging House
Frank Day’s Lodging House

Frank Day’s looks run down, but, apparently it is one of the “happening places” on the Oyate Trail. They have fashioned themselves as an old western-style saloon and also seem to be an attraction for bikers.

Frank Day's Signs
Frank Day’s Signs

Moving west on US 18 I finally arrived at one of my “planned destinations.”  Those that follow my blogs know that I am always looking for unique town names like Uncertain (TX), Boring (OR), Peculiar (MO), Tightwad (MO), Odd (WV) and more.  Well, this town is a real Winner!!!  Yes, Winner, South Dakota.

Welcome to Winner, SD - Pheasant Capital of the World
Welcome to Winner, SD – Pheasant Capital of the World

Winner was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and later part of the Dakota Territory, which was established by an act of Congress and a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861.  Winner was named because it was the “winner” in the struggle to establish a town along the railroad right-of-way when the Chicago North Western began moving west from Dallas, SD in 1909.

Winner, South Dakota
Winner, South Dakota
Welcome to Winner - Home of Frank Leahy
Welcome to Winner – Home of Frank Leahy

Frank Leahy was one of Notre Dame’s most famous coaches.  He grew up in Winner.

Downtown Winner, SD
Downtown Winner, SD
Pheasant Bar, Winner, SD
Pheasant Bar, Winner, SD

While I was in Winner, I stopped for a drink and a snack at a gas station.  I just had to ask…had anyone ever won it big in the lottery in Winner.  And, believe it or not, there was indeed a winning ticket sold, and, ironically, the winner’s name was Neal Wanless (awfully close to Winless…).  Wanless was a Winner in Winner to the tune of $232 million.  He apparently has many friends that frequent the Pheasant Bar.

Pix Theatre - Winner, SD
Pix Theatre – Winner, SD

Want a winning place to buy groceries?  Try this place….

Winner Food Center, Winner, SD
Winner Food Center, Winner, SD
Winner Westside Motel
Winner Westside Motel

The Motel Parking lot above is home to another Pheasant Statue, as seen below…

Pheasant Statue, Winner, SD
Pheasant Statue, Winner, SD

Now, for that “Pheasant Capital” bit….  Research has shown me that Redfield, South Dakota is the “Pheasant Capital of the World” and they have even registered the phrase.  Redfield is in the northeast section of South Dakota, north of Mitchell.  As late as 1994 there has been a dispute between Winner and Redfield as to which is the “official” capital.  I found an interesting article that shows that on October 26, 1994 Redfield had trademarked the phrase.  Winner still claims it as well.  But, Gregory is still the “ground-zero of pheasantdom.”  I think this argument has gone to the birds!!!

Here is the REAL WInner!!
Here is the REAL Winner!!
Centennial Mural for Tripp County in Winner
Centennial Mural for Tripp County in Winner
Heading west on US 18 out of Winner, South Dakota
Heading west on US 18 out of Winner, South Dakota

I continued to head further west to Mission, which would be my last stop on the Oyate Trail as I planned to head north to the Badlands from there.  By the way, Mission, SD is the home of Bob Barker, famous as the host of The Price is Right. The town of Mission is in the Rosebud Indian Reservation, home of the Sicangu Lakota tribe of the Sioux Nation.

Catholic Church in Mission, SD
Catholic Church in Mission, SD
Buffalo Jump Restaurant - Mission, SD
Buffalo Jump Restaurant – Mission, SD

While driving through Mission I came across this colorful restaurant called the Buffalo Jump.  It is owned and operated by Native Americans and offers buffalo burgers, Indian tacos, and, yes, Asian, Mexican, Italian, seafood and other goodies.

Mural in Mission, SD
Mural in Mission, SD
Another Mural in Mission, SD
Another Mural in Mission, SD

From Mission I headed north on US 83 until I arrived at SD 63.

US 83 in South Dakota heading north from Mission
US 83 in South Dakota heading north from Mission

I found it interesting that my GPS sent me onto SD 63.  I think my GPS is learning my penchant for back roads.  SD 63 is 23 miles GRAVEL ROAD that cuts mainly through the Rosebud Indian Reservation to Belvidere, SD on I-90 near Badlands National Park.  What a wonderful drive it was!!

SD 63 near Norris, SD -- 23 miles of gravel road
SD 63 near Norris, SD — 23 miles of gravel road
Sioux Burial Ground - I think
Sioux Burial Ground – I think
Sunlit badlands on SD 63
Sunlit badlands on SD 63
SD 63 going though prairie grasslands and badlands
SD 63 going though prairie grasslands and badlands
Long gravel road
Long gravel road
White River as seen from SD 63 south of Belvidere, SD
White River as seen from SD 63 south of Belvidere, South Dakota

I crossed over the White River just south of Belvidere.  The White River is the 36th longest river in the US at 506 miles.  It truly is whitish gray as a result of the clay, sand and volcanic ash it picks up along the way.

Belvidere, SD
Belvidere, SD – Population 63

I finally got back onto pavement as I entered Belvidere, just a small town with 63 people and perhaps that many horses and goats….

Foal jogging in Belvidere
Foal jogging in Belvidere
Community grazing tree in Belvidere
Community grazing tree in Belvidere
Grandpa Goat
Grandpa Goat
Rural Scene near Belvidere, SD
Rural Scene near Belvidere, SD

It was time to fuel up so I stopped at the Badland’s Travel Stop in Kadoka just off of I-90 west of Belvidere.  I loved the skies behind it.

Badland's Travel Stop - Kadoka, SD
Badland’s Travel Stop – Kadoka, SD
Teepee Picnic Area at Badland's Travel Stop
Teepee Picnic Area at Badland’s Travel Stop
Kadoka, South Dakota water tower
Kadoka, South Dakota water tower

Kadoka, South Dakota is “The Gateway to the Badlands.”  The name Kadoka is a Lakota word which means “Hole in the Wall,” but the town doesn’t seem that way….

 

Badlands Petrified Gardens in Kadoka, SD
Badlands Petrified Gardens in Kadoka, SD
Flag Benches in Kadoka, SD
Flag Benches in Kadoka, SD

I really got a kick out of all of the homemade signs in Kadoka…..

Pocketful of Posies - Kadoka, SD
Pocketful of Posies – Kadoka, SD
Museum - Kadoka, SD
Museum – Kadoka, SD
Hotel Pearl - Kadoka, SD
Hotel Pearl – Kadoka, SD

And then there is the old Wagon Wheel motel sign…

Wagon Wheel Motel - Kadoka, SD
Wagon Wheel Motel – Kadoka, SD
Dr. Pepper Sign in Kadoka, SD
Dr. Pepper Sign in Kadoka, SD

And that was the end of the road to the Badlands — Kadoka is the “Gateway!”

Prairie Dog -- watch for me soon
Prairie Dog — watch for me soon

On my next post I will have some great shots of prairie dogs and badlands!!

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