Big Sky & Rocky Mountain High   2 comments

Day 1-2 Badlands-Wall, S.D.

We began our Big Sky & Rocky Mountain High Plus Fall Colors trip 2 blocks from the famous “Wall Drug,” known as the Drug Store in the middle of nowhere that gives out free ice water. Over the years, it has grown, and grown, and grown.

Our get acquainted party and orientation found many of our guests knowing each other and many first time caravaners with Adventure Caravans. We are so excited to be tailgunning this trip.

Our first two days were ride sharing to the area sites. We started at the Minuteman Missile National Historic site which was established in 1999, the first site dedicated exclusively to Cold War events. This site is as big as the state of Maryland!

Under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) signed in 1991 by US President George Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. began to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear arms.

We were lucky to have someone who actually worked at the control site show us the underground control center. He actually did fire a test missile in his day. When they worked, they worked 24 hours on and although there was a bed for them, they could not sleep, they could only rest.

The men who worked this site certainly had a sense of humor as you can see from their “graffiti.”

The missiles travel 17,000 miles per hour in space. It would have only taken 30 minutes from blast off to reach Moscow.

We drove over to the missile site, which is almost nothing, just one or two acres of ground with a concrete slab in the middle and some posts and poles sticking up behind an eight-foot-high cyclone fence; but to the imagination, it is the end of the world.

The photo on the right above is an actual missile underground.

Prairie Homestead

The prairie homestead is the original home of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Brown who homesteaded these 160 acres in 1909. Everything is preserved as though a homestead family was living there today. A small portion of the furnishings are original, the rest are typical of the sodbusters in this area.

These pioneers played an important part in settling the Great Plains. This area of South Dakota was one of the last places to be homesteaded because western South Dakota was west aside as Indian reservation. Five acres was all that was required to be plowed into crops. A common remark by homesteaders was that the government bet you 160 acres of land against $18.00 that you will starve to death before you live on the land 5 years.

Mr. Brown used cottonwood logs. The beams are the original ones that he used. The log front is also original. He plowed buffalo grass sod for the upper walls of his home. His home was warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

We chose the windiest day ever to see the Badlands by motorcycle. The winds were blowing up to 50 miles per hour. The badlands are a place of extremes. Last year when we did the Badlands by motorcycle it was 103 degrees! I’m not sure which was worst, hot or extremely windy…

The Badlands National Park covers 244,000 acres. The exposed colored layers mark fossil soils and contain evidence of life here between 23 and 37 million years ago.

As we drove through the Badlands, it’s hard to believe that people actually live there. The homes were few and far between, but they were there….. People tried to homestead the Badlands back in the early 1900s, but they turned out to be “Starvation Claims” and were abandoned or sold. Today the ranches of this valley are measured in thousands of acres and heavy equipment does most of the work that was once done by calloused hands. But it is still difficult for the ranchers today to succeed.

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2 responses to “Big Sky & Rocky Mountain High

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  1. Great photos. Glad to hear you got to enjoy many different things South Dakota has to offer!

    Ashley
    SD Office of Tourism
    http://www.travelsd.com

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