What a fun day we had today! We left Black Hawk this morning and went to Mount Rushmore. We were even able to see Gutzon Borglum’s (the creator of the memorial) sculptor’s studio. In the studio, there was a 1:12 scale model of the memorial and we were able to learn a little more about the history of it.
After Mt. Rushmore, we drove to the Badlands. It is a beautiful National Park that some people compare to the surface of the moon because it is the only other place where formations like those occur. We entered the Park through the south entrance that belonged to the Lakota Indian Tribe, and drove north into the US National Park area. We learned that the Badlands get its name from French trappers traveling through the area in the 1700’s. They had such a hard time making their way through the land because of the strange rock that crumbled very easily and was difficult to travel on. They were so frustrated with the area, that they named it Badlands.
While going through the Badlands we saw wildlife, beautiful and very different scenery, and even walked around and climbed on some of the formations. It was almost like climbing around on giant sandcastles.
After leaving the Badlands, we went to eat lunch at Wall Drugstore in Wall, SD…”The Friendly Town.” Beau and I decided to stick with the regional cuisine and have buffalo burgers. We’d also heard great things about their doughnuts, so why not? Two homemade, deep fried, chocolate covered doughnuts please! And boy, were they good.
We then made a short stop at the Delta 09 Minuteman Missile Site. This site was one of many that the US used to house nuclear warheads during the Cold War. The site dispelled many myths about the minuteman missile project such as: none of the sights were top secret and it took four people to turn the keys to launch the missile. With Beau and I both having degrees related to history, we really enjoyed this stop.
Finally, we decided we would stop at an old 1880’s Western town. We found out that the town was put together in 1989. However, all the buildings in the town came from other towns, and each building was an actually dated anywhere from the 1880’s to early 1900’s. It was put together as an homage to the old west, and is a way for tourists to experience what an actual 1880’s town used to be like. It was so much fun! We were able to go inside the buildings, sit on the wagons and stagecoaches, and in the town hotel you could even see spur marks from cowboy boots on the stairs. The town saloon functioned as a concession stand, but used to be an actual working saloon in the early 1900’s. There was a church, a doctor/dentist’s office above the mercantile, a school house, and so much more.
Another neat thing about this particular town, was that it had many of the actual props from the movie Dances with Wolves. For example: a teepee from the Indian tribe, the wagon train, the log cabin he lived in, various costumes and weaponry, and even the original movie script and behind the scenes pictures. Kevin Costner’s horse in the movie (Cisco) was even buried nearby.
As mentioned earlier in the blog, it was quite a fun day; probably one of our favorites of the entire trip. We discovered some more of America’s history and got to step back into time and feel like we were a part of it. Tonight, we will drive as far as we can and see where we end up. Agenda for tomorrow? We have none.