Monday, October 03, 2011

Deadwood to Home

Downtown Deadwood, SD
We cut our trip short to get back to Kansas to see our new Granddaughter, but made sure to spend some time in downtown Deadwood.  This city was founded in 1876 after  a miner named John B. Pearson found gold in a narrow canyon in the Northern Black Hills the previous year.  Today the entire city is a National Historic Landmark.  We highly recommend experiencing this Old West city, which despite the commercialization through the Casino's, still holds plenty of it's original charm.

Pine Ridge Reservation
From Deadwood we head back to I-90, then south to Rapid City, where we take Highway 79 to 40 and  through the Pine Ridge Reservation. Home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe, it is located just on the edge of the South Dakota badlands. Though the reservation is 2,000,000 acres large, the bulk the original Sioux homeland was the Black Hills which the Sioux considere sacred. In fact, the Sioux continue to dispute losing their lands in the Black Hills to this day.

Wounded Knee
After we get on Highway 18 we found time for a quick jog north to the site of the Wounded Knee massacre. This regrettable and tragic clash of arms, occurring  December 29, 1890, was the last significant engagement between Native Americans and soldiers on the North American Continent, ending nearly four centuries of warfare between westward-bound immigrants and the indigenous peoples. Today, it serves as an example of national guilt for the mistreatment of the Natives. You can read the full story about Wounded Knee here.

Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway
After heading back to Highway 18, we start making our way to Nebraska via 391/27 into Gordon.  From Gordon we continue south to Highway 2, which is also Nebraska's Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway.  The rolling hills of Nebraska and the somewhat sandy soil is home to very few.  In fact, Kathy and I believe that this was one of the longest stretches of desolation we have encountered yet.  Though there are a few small towns through this region, we were happy we filled up in Gordon.

Along the way we stopped for pictures in Ashby, Nebraska. Near the end of the 19th century, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad moved west and laid rails through the Sandhills of western Nebraska. This area had once been called a desert, and unfit for humans. Not suitable land for farming, it was ideal for the grazing of cattle. The land south of Ashby was set aside for a time as a forest reserve, and then opened for settlement to homesteaders by way of a land drawing in 1912. With the homesteaders, the town grew and added businesses. In 1914 there were three lumber yards, two livery barns, a blacksmith shop, a bank, barber shop, post office, two grocery stores and a newspaper called The Ashby Argos. Today, Ashby is called home to less than 100 people.

Nebraska National Forest
On down the road you pass by the Nebraska National Forest. Located in the Sandhills of central Nebraska, was established in 1902 as an experiment to see if forests could be created in treeless areas of the Great Plains. This effort resulted in a 20,000-acre forest, the largest human-planted forest in the United States.

After a long day of driving, we spent the night in Grand Island and then quickly wrapped up our journey to Lawrence Kansas to be with family.  Overall, Kathy and I were fortunate to experience the wonderful history, Ghost Towns and people along the way of our 9 day journey to North Dakota and back.  We look forward to writing more about the places we've seen in the months ahead.

You can follow this portion of our trip in pictures via our Facebook Fan Page here!

Congratulations to Kathy's daughter Torri, and husband Pete Nobo on their 3rd daughter.  We welcomed Havana Blue Sky Nobo to the world on Friday and plan to start priming her with history as soon as she can talk!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Deadwood to Devils Tower

Deadwood's Historic Adams House
It was a wonderful feeling waking up and realizing that we didn't have to pack up and leave our hotel.  Kathy and I decided we would stay in Deadwood, SD for a couple of nights and spend Friday traveling close by.  We didn't really need to "do" Deadwood, since Kathy has already been here and done that.  Of course, this city does have some fantastic history, which is worth reviewing once in a while.  The famous and the infamous have called Deadwood and the Black Hills home. Lewis and Clark, Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, George Armstrong Custer, Poker Alice, the Sundance Kid, Calamity Jane, and many others have all passed through here in search of fortune and adventure.

Homestake Mine, Lead SD
And for all the hoopla over Gold and Deadwood, it was the town of Lead, just a few miles further on Highway 85, that actually struck it richer. Founded in 1876 by Mining Magnate George Hearst , it's Homestake Mine, which closed in 2002, was the most productive gold mine in the Western Hemisphere, as well as the largest and deepest.  Today, a viewing platform allows visitors to view the Mine and learn about the "rich" history of the area.  It's also worth noting that the town is now home to a "Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory" which deals in dark matter and other nuclear physics studies. By the way, Lead and pronounced Leed, just so ya know.

Bridal Veil Water Fall
We departed Lead on Highway 14 for some picturesque views of the Black Hills, stopping at the areas water falls and generally enjoying the Fall color already prevalent along the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway.  Beautiful clear water is a welcome site to a couple from the Lake of the Ozarks.  We typically don't see fish "in" the water, unless they are coming up for air.  Absolutely worth the drive over to Spearfish, where we catch I-90 and head west into Wyoming.

Along the way we run into Vore Buffalo Jump just west of Beulah.  This was something I hadn't run into before, at least the way it was found.  It's one of the most important archaeological sites of the Late-Prehistoric Plains Indians that just happened to be discovered when I-90 was being constructed during the 1970's.  It's a natural sink hole that was used by natives as a buffalo trap around the years 1500 to 1800 and is actively being studied to this day. Different than the Buffalo jumps we have seen where the natives would run them off a cliff, but just as effective.  The building at the bottom of the sink hole was built to protect and expand the excavation unit working the site.

Devils Tower, WY
From there we continue down I-90 to Sundance, where we veer off with Highway 14, then onto Highway 24 to take in Devils Tower.  Movie geeks know this as a key place in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (well, at least I did), however this monstrous rock is a sacred and important landmark to Plains Indians, America's First National Landmark, and draws thousands of visitors a year.  It is 867 feet from the base to the top,  and 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River that runs below it. You just can't appreciate the awe of this place on a movie screen.  Incredible.

Aladdin General Store, WY
From Devils Tower we start our trek back to Deadwood, stopping at the General Store in Aladdin for some shopping, before heading back to South Dakota. Aladdin's General Store was built in 1896 and is one of Wyoming's five remaining 19th century mercantiles. It hasn't changed much in appearance since then.  If you are ever in the area, stop in this town of 15 and check this place out, on Highway 24, a few miles from the state line.

On our way back to the hotel in Deadwood we discovered that our new Grand Girl decided to come a few days early, so we are going wrap up our trip in rapid time so Nana can help out with the other two grand girls while Mom recovers.  Welcome to the world Havana Blue Sky Nobo.  Papa Dave and Nana are on the way to Lawrence, Ks to make sure you get the historic welcome you deserve!

See Day 7 of our trip in pictures here on our Facebook Fan Page!