Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sioux Falls, South Dakota - Cool and Corny at the Same Time

After briefly passing through Iowa, I entered South Dakota. 

My next destination would be Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The trip took me about 3 hours because I stopped along the way at the South Dakota tourism information office. I inquired about things to do and the woman behind the counter mentioned that I should visit the namesake of Sioux Falls... the Sioux Falls.
So... my first destination was the Sioux Falls. The falls was actually located in a public park located in the middle of the city.
The falls were created by the Big Sioux River about 14,000 years ago during the last ice age.
There appeared to be a series of falls sprawling and cascading through the park.
The lure of the falls has been a powerful influence. Ho-Chunk, Ioway, Otoe, Missouri, Omaha, Quapaw, Kansa, Osage, Arikira, Dakota, Nakota and Cheyenne people inhabited and settled the region previous to Europeans and European descendants. Numerous burial mounds still exist on the high bluffs near the river and are spread throughout the general vicinity. Indigenous people maintained an agricultural society with fortified villages, and the later arrivals rebuilt on many of the same sites that were previously settled. Lakota populate urban and reservation communities in the contemporary state and many Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, and numerous other Native Americans reside in Sioux Falls today.
There was an old mill on the site that was established back in 1881. Back in the day the mill consisted of a seven-story main structure built of Sioux quartzite quarried on site. Nearly $500,000 was spent on the construction of the state-of-the-art mill and its supporting structures. The mill could process 1,500 bushels each day. However, by 1883, the mill was closed — a victim of inadequate water power and a short supply of wheat.
After walking around the park, I got back in my car and drove around the downtown area. I passed by the St. Joseph Cathedral. The Cathedral traces its history to the establishment of St. Michael’s Church, Sioux Falls' first Catholic parish.
It was founded in 1881 and a wooden building was constructed for a church. Two years later a larger brick church was built. On November 12, 1889,  Pope Leo XIII established the Diocese of Sioux Falls and St. Michael’s became the cathedral for the new diocese. I didn't go inside the cathedral, I just wanted to check out the architecture.
Just down the street from the Cathedral there were a number of huge 19th century houses.
6th Street seemed to be the Main Street of Sioux Falls. Along the street there was the Old Courthouse. There appeared to be a museum inside, but I did not go inside.
Instead, I was given a tip to visit the Sioux Falls sculpture park. I wasn't given good directions to the sculpture park, I was just told that it was in the downtown area. I came across one sculpture.
Then I saw another.
So I parked my car and started to walk around.
The sculptures were not in one central area or park.
They were scattered about the city over three or four blocks.
I'm not even sure if I saw all the sculptures.
But I saw this one... and perhaps accumulated some points for Pokemon Go.
As I was driving around the downtown area I saw this guy driving his ATV on the streets. I thought that it was kind of cool that they allowed ATVs in the downtown area.
I also passed by this outdoor store called The Great Outdoor Store. Because I'm a gear junky, I had to check it out. If the owners were going to call their shop The Great Outdoor Store, I felt like it should be well... Great. The thing that first caught my eye was that they had a number of tents set up on the outside lawn. OK, great promotional display, it caught my attention. The store was inside an old building surrounded by a nice green lawn. A bit unusual for a store, but I thought fit in with the neighborhood and concept. I entered the store and walked around. I was greeted by some friendly staff. They were having some kind of raffle and gave me a ticket. The store actually had a pretty good selection of outdoor goods. They had many of the well known name brands, but also what appeared to be some local brands. I really did not need any additional gear, so after walking around a bit I exited. I didn't win the raffle, but I wasn't disappointed. In the world of massive online retail operations, it was good to see that it is still possible for a small business to survive and thrive. Overall I was impressed... the store lived up to it's namesake. If you're ever in the area, check out The Great Outdoor Store... it is Great!
I thought Sioux Falls was a pretty cool town. It was large enough to have a few attractions, small enough to walk around the central area, cultured enough to have some art and I really enjoyed the natural area around Falls Park. I only spent one day in the town, then charted my course toward Rapid City, South Dakota. My next destination would be a long drive of about 5 to 6 hours. As I was driving west I kept seeing road signs for The Corn Palace. It sounded kind of... corny... but I had to check it out.
The Corn Palace is a nice little museum dedicated to corn. 
Not really... it is a huge, massive, ostentatious palace built as a monument to celebrate all the wonderfulness of corn. God Bless America!!!
The Corn Palace, commonly advertised as The World's Only Corn Palace, is a multi-purpose arena located in Mitchell, South Dakota. The Moorish Revival building is decorated with crop art; the murals and designs covering the building are made from corn and other grains, and a new design is constructed each year.
The Corn Palace is a popular tourist destination, visited by between 200,000 to 500,000 people each year. The exterior corn murals are replaced and redesigned each year with a new theme. The designs are created by local artists.
The original Mitchell Corn Palace (known as "The Corn Belt Exposition") was built in 1892 to showcase the rich soil of South Dakota and encourage people to settle in the area. It was a wooden castle structure on Mitchell's Main Street, built on land donated by Louis Beckwith, a member of the First Corn Palace Committee. In 1904–1905, the city of Mitchell mounted a challenge to the city of Pierre in an unsuccessful attempt to replace it as the state capital of South Dakota. As part of this effort, the Corn Palace was rebuilt in 1905. In 1921, the Corn Palace was rebuilt once again, with a design by the architectural firm Rapp and Rapp of Chicago. Russian-style onion domes and Moorish minarets were added in 1937, giving the Palace the distinctive appearance that it has today. It costs $130,000 annually to decorate the Palace.
The Corn Palace serves the community as a venue for concerts, sports events, exhibits and other community events. Each year, the Corn Palace is celebrated with a citywide festival, the Corn Palace Festival. Historically it was held at harvest time in September, but recently it has been held at the end of August. Other popular annual events include the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo in July and the Corn Palace Polka Festival in September. It is also home to the Dakota Wesleyan University Tigers and the Mitchell High School Kernels basketball teams. 
Inside The Corn Palace there is a souvenir store that sells items like postcards.
Corn cob pipes
Corn holders
Corn shaped butter dispensers
Corn candy
And of course there is a corn main box to mail that official Corn Palace postcard.

I continued west.

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