"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 :)
We had a wonderful summer this year. We were having so much fun going to so many great events around Wisconsin we didn’t have time to write about it yet, let alone spring! Our South Dakota and Wyoming trip took us 4 months to write about we saw so much!
Meanwhile, enjoy our video of Summer 2017. More details coming later about what we did. We never run out of things to do in this great state!
Hot Springs, South Dakota is a city of 3,711 and is the county seat of Fall River County. We stayed there three nights with some friends, not downtown but in one of the nearby hills where their homestead is located. The countryside is beautiful, cattle ranches are a prevalent feature here. It was snowing in this picture.
Our friends took us on the grand tour, we saw everything on our list and more. We began with visiting John Robertson Memorial Park Cemetery. He was a prominent horticulturist and farmer in Fall River County.
After visiting here we learned why this is called the Veteran’s town. Our next stop was the South Dakota Veterans Home, a large beautiful building dedicated to caring for the many vets in Hot Springs. There is a large medical staff dedicated to the care of the residents here.
The Joe Kern Building-Soldiers Home
I have not seen a community honor vets as much as this one does. Inside the nursing home building near the entrance is a statue of a soldier. Inside the base is a time capsule, opening year is 2065.
Hot Spring’s downtown buildings are mostly made of sandstone, locally quarried at Evans Quarry. Read more about the stone’s use here. You saw some of these buildings at the Veterans Home also.
Here is the depot mentioned in the sign. The Soldiers Home is above.
This is the smallest union depot in the country. Here is the other signage on the depot.
Behind the depot is a train car.
Next to the depot is a small wood jail building serving the territory in 1885. It is the oldest surviving wooden jail in South Dakota.
The brown sign to the left of the door. Calamity Jane spent a night here too!
Enjoy a drive through downtown, nearly every building is constructed of pink sandstone.
The Fall River flows though the city, providing a soothing ambiance and view. There is even a waterfall along the Fall River Freedom Trail.
Kidney Spring has water deemed healthful for the kidneys. It flows freely from a spigot. A plaque gives a breakdown on the water analysis.
A retaining wall was built by the WPA in 1939. The view of it from the other side.
A great place to view downtown is at a lookout point on Hammond Avenue. It is a steep hill and about 1/2 way up. A great view of the Battle Mountain Sanitorium on the hill across the way.
There are more historical markers scattered throughout the city. This one is at the edge of town at a wayside on the Mammoth Highway, this is the front.
Another one is the Leslie Jensen Scenic Drive marker.
This small sign is attached below, telling us when he passed away.
Downtown is a Lions Club Memorial circle with a planter.
Closeup of the plaque on the monument.
This marker is near their former Carnegie Library building. A new and larger library with more parking was built and opened in 2007. Here is a list of all the Carnegie libraries in South Dakota.
If you look to your left, there is a steep hill leading to the Fall River Pioneer Museum. We could not go in since it was not open for the season yet.
On the northern edge of town is the Mammoth Site, where hundreds of Mammoth skeletons were discovered in 1974 while preparing the land for a housing development. The area was then protected and a very active dig still today. You can get a tour here and they offer programs for children and adults alike. There is a marker close to the driveway.
All this exploring can make one hungry. We enjoyed lunch at the China Buffet, a favorite downtown of the locals. For dinner we went to where our friend works, Taco John’s. Their food was yummy too!
The Hot Springs area has many beautiful parks for recreation, even a picnic!
We also took a closer look at the Fall River, namesake of the county Hot Springs resides in. We went to Keith Memorial Cascade Falls. It was so beautiful there, I imagine even more so later in the spring and summer. A marker is also located there.
There is a walkway leading down to a view of the falls, also a small chapel you can go in.
Even though the sky was still overcast, the hills were still breathtaking! There are many areas where you can pull over for an up-close view. We did just that several times. It’s a 24 mile drive to the other side.
Enjoy some of our favorite views.
Everyone sure looks small from the top of the parking lot!
This is certainly the most scenic road we have ever been on, next to the Iron Mountain Road. This is 1:26 PM and the clouds are beginning to thin, letting in more sunshine.
We found a sign talking about the journey to Wounded Knee, where we stopped on April 24.
At 1:44 PM we see this sign. Getting close to the end. We get back on I-90.
We stopped inside for a few minutes. Lots of gifts to choose from in the gift shop. You can even eat at the Cedar Pass Restaurant inside. We enjoyed chatting with the staff there about our visit to South Dakota and that we look forward to returning next year.
Our last stop in this area was the Badlands Ranch Store, also the site of a LARGE prairie dog town. We arrived here by 2:25 PM. Open since 1967, it has been a tourist destination for generations. We could not go in since it wasn’t open yet. The store is open during the busy season, from mid-May through mid-September. They sell unsalted peanuts so you can feed them.
One of the little critters greeted me, I didn’t have any peanuts unfortunately.
And the BEST part, take a selfie with their big groundhog, we did! Same pose too!
A great way to cap off our visit to the Badlands. The views are incredible and there is so much to see and do here.