Monday, June 8, 2009

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Roger here...  In the past, Sioux Falls was one of those places that I have driven through to get somewhere else - Badlands, Black Hills, Yellowstone, Wall Drug!  We really did not know too much about the city, other than there was a waterfall on the Big Sioux River and that it was the largest city in South Dakota.    I don't know what it was like in the past when we whizzed by, not getting off Interstate 90, but I must say that right now it is an impressive place.  

On the first full day of our visit, we crated the dogs and drove to Falls Park.  
(Ironically, there is also a Falls Park in my hometown of Pendleton, IN.  The waterfall in the Pendleton park is pretty nice, especially by Indiana standards.  However, it does not compare to the 
 Falls of Sioux Falls, which are actually a series of falls over an expansive area.)

  Dianne's comments:  I wish the sun had been out to really show how pretty the falls were.  The rock, unlike the limestone we have in Indiana, is pink quartzite and very pretty.  It is also called "jasper" (like our dog).   This pink quartzite was quarried and used to build the older buildings in town, giving them all a pink hue.  I can only imagine how lovely they are in bright sunlight.   They no longer use the stone to build buildings, but now crush it into a paving material that is used on roadways, which we noticed on the interstates as we drove into the area.  Back to Roger....

At the park, we hopped on one of the free, narrated trolleys that move people to the center of the city. We passed a magnificent church 
and departed the trolley at the furthest point from the park, intending to walk back.

It was a grey day and a little chilly, but that did not detract from the obvious improvements that have occurred in Sioux Falls.

  One of the most impressive features were the statues that
 artists have placed all along the town - 55 in all.  During the course of the year residents and visitors can vote for their favorite statue, which the city then purchases for permanent display.  At the end of the year, new statues take the place of the old. 

 There were literally statues of all kinds everywhere you looked.  My favorite was the high-fiving dog.  (Dianne here --  I think it looks like a whippet, don't you??)
 I couldn't resist acting a little silly while a lady on the sidewalk stared at me.  Oh well, I don't know her.

During the walk we stopped at an outdoor store where Dianne bought a new t-shirt.  We then spent a lot of time in the city museum, which is housed in the mammoth old former court house.  What a magnificent old stone building!  
were several interesting exhibits.

  Dianne liked the Native American beading displays. 

 I liked the rooms that were dedicated to the Sioux Falls drive-in restaurants
 of the fifties and sixties. 

 The rooms dedicated to the trapping of
 beaver for gentlemen's top hats, the voyageurs, and trading during pioneer times were fascinating. 

In the gift shop Dianne bought a historical book and a couple of small gifts for our granddaughter. 

(Dianne here -- The book I purchased is a fascinating account of the Blizzard of 1888, also known as the "Children's Blizzard" [which is also the name of the book] by David Laskin.   It took place in this area, the Nebraska/Dakota Territory plains.   I'm reading it now, and it really gives me a vivid picture of the hardships the Northern European immigrants faced when they settled here; most not realizing what they were getting into, having believed the railroad companies' propaganda they had seen in Europe.   Now you know I'm a total nerd, with my birding and love of local history.  Maybe this will make up for being "outed" for watching Paris Hilton in the Simple Life! [see Arkansas blog....])

 We then took a short walk to the Phillips Street Diner
 for lunch - really good diner-type food.  (Dianne again:   I had the best egg salad sandwiches ever, served on homemade sourdough rolls.  Roger had a toasted cheese/roast beef sandwich and some really, really good french fries.  We split an order of chocolate cake for dessert.)

After lunch, we walked back to Falls Park, climbed the five-story observation tower to take more views and photos of the falls, and headed back to the car.  We were both very impressed by the architecture, the cleanliness, the civic pride, and the successful attempts to make Sioux Falls an outstanding city.

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