"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
In our 6 days in South Dakota we saw a lot of interesting things between our main destinations. We encountered historical markers we had to stop and read. The rest stops alone were worth taking a few minutes to see. We will be showing you places not covered in our other posts since the visits were short. We covered the state from end-to-end horizontally.
On our journey we explored three rest stops along I-90 in South Dakota.
We will begin with the first rest stop on the state border just after leaving Minnesota. This is the Valley Springs Rest Area. See a map of the other rest areas we visited, all impressive!
We are informed of what highway we are on.
The rest stops in SD are clean and attractive, also many contain a picture display of major attractions in the state. You can see it at the corner of the building.
At this rest stop there are several markers, the first is Minnehaha County, where we were. Let’s read it.
Also called the Presho Rest Area, located in the middle of the state. This was the 3rd rest stop. This rest stop commemorates when the Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed this area. There is a LARGE Sacagawea statue on a hill overlooking the Missouri River, great view from the hill! You can see the community of Chamberlain below.
We wished we could have stopped in De Smet to see one of Laura Ingalls Wilder‘s former homes, but we didn’t have the time on this trip.
A seemingly infinite regression of power lines going to the horizon.
Did you ever hear that song, “Eat at Joe’s”? Well, you actually can in South Dakota.
Here is the song if you don’t know it.
It’s official name is Joe’s Cafe in Alexandria. You can’t miss the friendly Sinclair dino at the driveway, great place for a selfie!
Here’s Joe’s, I heard it is a popular place!
We discovered this beautiful place on our way out on day 1, the Snake Creek Recreation Area. We got video driving through it too, our first experience of the changing terrain from the eastern edge of the state. It is just west of Platte.
Sturgis is a city of 6,627 in Meade County, South Dakota and is known as the City of Riders. That’s because it is the ground zero for motorcycle riders and a HUGE motorcycle rally. We made this one of our stops on our way to Wyoming and wanted to see it since a friend of mine has been there. Sturgis is best known for their big Motorcycle Rally every August. Sturgis also has a radio station that follow the rally, KNKL.
The first order of business was having lunch. The place that was recommended to us was Jambonz Grill and Pub. The owner Sheree Schriver came out and chatted with us a few minutes while we waited for our food, which was delicious! Al had a club sandwich while I had the catfish, yum!
A couple doors down is Sturgis Guns, an employee there told us about Jambonz, thanks!
Just down the street is a historical marker dedicated to Charles Nolin, a Pony Express mail carrier. He was ambushed and killed here by Indians on August 19, 1876. This was still a very dangerous territory then.
After lunch we spent about 1/2 hour exploring downtown. Sturgis want people on the highway to know what community they are passing, so they put “STURGIS” in large, friendly white letters on a nearby hillside.
Downtown is the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. On the left side of the building is a poster of a photo taken during the motorcycle rally. The street is FULL! This is the community’s biggest event of the year.
On the other side of the building.
Photo by Al Kutil
There is a lot going on here, some landscape work being done, new curbing and other improvements being done. See here for the many places to shop in Sturgis.
On our right is the historic Sturgis Armory building.
The city is in the process of replacing the sidewalk with engraved bricks. They are off to a good start!
The historic bank building on the corner of First and Main, built in 1886.
Love this view, the motorcycle museum would be on your right. The Knuckle Saloon is on the left.
As expected, there are tattoo parlors here, more than one. Sturgis Tattoo in a historic hotel building and The Tattoo Cellar. Since we have no tattoos and have no knowledge on the subject, read this article first before deciding where to go.
There are many places to get a souvenir downtown on this block.
The Mammoth Site is one of the must-see places to visit in Hot Springs. The first thing you see is a mammoth and the sign in the lawn, beckoning you in.
Nearby at the edge of the road is a marker too.
A walkway with informative signs lead to the spacious building enclosing the dig site from the weather.
Upon entering the building we see an enormous Mammoth skeleton! It was found in Kenosha County, Wisconsin. Wisconsin also had Mastadons. we saw the Mastadon site in Boaz, WI a few years ago.
We arrived about 3:00 so we only had 2 hours so we were sure the guided tour included in our admission would give us a good overview. We hope to return next year too fill in what we didn’t see. Read brochure for hours here.
The site was discovered in 1974 by heavy equipment operator George Hanson. A new housing development was slated to be built on the site. He began grading a small hill and struck bone. He halted work immediately and brought the bones he inadvertently excavated to his son Dan, who had taken archaeology and geology classes. Dan also called his former professor Dr. Larry Agenbroad and invited him to come examine the site. He arrived a week later and confirmed this was a major find! The land owner, Phil Anderson sold the land in 1975 so the work could continue. To this day, 62 mammoth skeletons have been discovered. The building housing the site was completed in 1986.
Our tour began with a 10 minute film, our guide Riley did a fine job. See our tour here first hand. After the film our group went to see the dig site. Riley took us around the pit, stopping at 5 vantage points and showing us many of the well-preserved bones.
After the tour we could explore the other exhibit rooms adjacent to the dig area. There was only time to see the Ice Age Exhibit Hall before they closed.
A Woolly Mammoth Bone House replica is here too. I apologize for the blurry 2nd pic.
We sure had a lot of fun here. We hope to return next year to see the rest of the museum and see further progress on the dig site. Our guide Riley did a fine job on the tour and explained everything well.
Donations gratefully accepted to continue the project!