Sunday, April 30, 2023

A Few Days in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

(Clicking on the pictures will open them larger in a new window.)

Tuesday Afternoon, April 25, 2023
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Thursday, April 27, 2023

Our first view of the falls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD

Tuesday Afternoon: In the previous post I wrote about our short trip this morning to Tower Campground this is how we spent the afternoon.  As I mentioned in a previous post we made this trip to Sioux Falls, SD so we could both renew our Driver's License. As full time RVer's who use a mail service we needed to do so in person. Plus, we needed documentation  to prove our residency. After settling into our site we headed over to our mail service, Your Best Address, to pick up our mail and a copy of our contract with them. Our original contract was part of what the thieves who broke into our Jeep in Albuquerque took. We each needed two pieces of mail with our name and address on it and a copy of the contract. The woman had already given Tom two copies of our proof of spending the night at the campgrounds when he registered. After we made the stop at Your Best Address we headed over to Red Robin for a late lunch. There was a bonus, it ended up being near a TJ Maxx and Kohls so I did take a stroll through each just for fun and maybe a thing or two. 

Your Best Address

The entrance and lobby. 

Wednesday: We had no plans of leaving the Motorhome today. There was some cleaning we wanted to take care of and I had several batches of wash I wanted to get done. First we just relaxed and had our morning coffee. Tom did end up doing some running looking for an air hose that connects our breaking system in the Jeep to the Motorhome. It had come lose and dragged for a bit back in Sierra Vista so it needs to be taped right now to keep it connected. After several places with no luck he taped it back on. It ended up being a restful day for the most part.

Thursday: Today we had appointments at the DMV and that went smoothly and quickly about 30 minutes after we arrived we both walked out with our renewed license in hand. We both have only dealt with Michigan and South Dakota's DMV in our lifetime and hands down South Dakota wins for efficiency. 

We had talked about taking the time to visit the Falls Park when we were here this time and had decided if the Jeep was not acting up we would chance the extra miles, about eight all together, to do so. Since things were going okay with the Jeep our next stop was the Falls Park.

Falls Park, the city's name sake, is a public park in north central Sioux Falls, South Dakota, surrounding the city's waterfalls. The park includes a café, an observation tower, and the remains of an old mill. The park comprises over 128 acres just north of downtown, along the Big Sioux River. An average of 7,400 gallons of water fall 100 feet per second. There are many viewing platforms, including the five-story observation tower. Falls Park includes some of Sioux Falls' oldest buildings.

The Falls Park on the Big Sioux River

This is a lovely park and we enjoyed our walk through and around. A little warmer and less wind plus sunshine would have been nice but you cannot always have everything We are glad we took the time to visit this park and it would be worth, at the very least, a second visit. A gentleman I asked, said they do light it up at night and that would be nice to see.

These benches were scattered throughout the park
all donated in some loved ones memory.

A sheet of ice changed the course of the Big Sioux River
and created the area now known as Falls Park.

Two sided Historical Marker 
(text below)

The Queen Bee Mill, a goliath among mills in early Dakota Territory, once stood tall and proud here on the bank of the Big Sioux River. A large quartzite deposit on the site was used to build an impressive seven-story flour mill.

The building of the mill was the result of the work of many people, led by R. F. Pettigrew of Sioux Falls. Pettigrew, one of the leading political and business figures of the city, secured money to construct the mill from a group of investors led by George I. Seney, a New York City banker. It has long been believed, though unproven, that Pettigrew tricked Seney into putting up the money. According to that legend, Pettigrew arranged for the construction of a dam upstream on the Big Sioux River, and as the men approached the river, on signal, the dam was broken. The resulting flow of water over the falls was sufficient to convince Seney that the mill should be built.

In August 1879, construction began on an 81-acre site that was purchased for $38,000. After two years of building and fitting, he Queen Bee was ready, at a cost of nearly half a million dollars. It was 104 feet tall, 80 feet wide, and 100 feet long. Water from the Big Sioux River was diverted into a large turbine which generated 800 horsepower. The Queen Bee Mill, known as "the most ambitious attempt ever made to use waterpower west of the Mississippi River," was capable of producing 1,200 barrels of flour daily. One hundred men worked within and around the mill complex.

(other side)

The very river which was to provide the source of power to operate the mill also threatened to destroy it before the first wheat was ground. On April 20, 1881, spying run - off from melted snow and ice overflowed the banks of the Big Sioux River, creating the worst flood in the recorded history of Sioux Falls. The mill took a pounding, but, as it was built of "a stone that is unsurpassed by any building material that existed in the world." It withstood the onslaught of the raging river with damage limited to mill offices.

The Queen Bee Bill began grinding Dakota spring wheat October 25, 1881. By early 1885, owing $97,000 to creditors, the mill was bankrupt. It failed because of insufficient waterpower, the scarcity of high grade wheat and the inability to pay dividends to its investors. The mill complex changed ownership several times, then shut down forever shortly after the end of World War I when it became a storage facility.

On January 30, 1956, the Queen died a fiery death. Portions of the walls of the mill, built of "a stone with which it is fitting that we should find heaven paved," remain to remind future generations of the economic struggles of the past.

Queen Bee Turbine House

Standing on one of several platforms as I took this
picture I could feel the mist coming off the water.

Part of the Text on above marker is below.

The building in front of you is the former Sioux Falls Light & Power hydroelectric plant. More recently, it was called the Northern States Power, or NSP, building. The plant began generating electricity for Sioux Falls in 1908.

This building now houses, The Falls Overlook Cafe
We went in and had lunch here. We each had a bowl of chili
and it was quite good on this windy cooler day.

In the upper right picture, if you look closely, you can see
there is a patio area. In warm weather it would be nice
 sitting out with a view of the falls.

The First Sculpture at Falls Park

Text Below

With a pioneer spirit Hazel O'Connor has continually led the way toward a better Sioux Falls. One of her many special concerns has been the Big Sioux River and the falls, the city's namesake. As a leader of the City Federation of Women's clubs, she urged the restoration of Falls Park and continues to be its greatest champion. As a charter member of the River Improvement Society (RISE), she has worked for the realization of today's Big Sioux River greenway. Her vision, perseverance, and dedication is an inspiration for her generation and for future generations to preserve the Quality of life in Sioux Falls.

"Without water there would be no river, more important,
 without water there will be no life." 
~Hazel O'Connor --1977

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If you have time to leave a comment we would enjoy hearing from you.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Day 7: We Reached Our Destination

 Tuesday, April 25, 2023

We slept in this morning and took our time before Tom started the Stinger "B" and we rolled out of the Walmart parking lot in Mitchell, SD. There really was no reason to rush we only had 72 miles to go and check in at the RV Park was not until 1 o'clock. More about that later. We left right around 11 o'clock and in a few minutes we were merging back on I-90 going East.

Our parking spot at the Mitchell, SD Walmart.

Going over the James River we can see it is over its banks.

We did see several instances of water along the highway.

Not sure what happened here but it looks like a lot of damage.

“Whitwam’s Wigwams"

When we saw a similar structure at the Dignity Rest Area I was curious as to what its significance was. I was going to do some research then but I got distracted, forgot, and published the post without doing so. Below is a short version of the information I found online about these structures which are called Tipis and are located at nine rest areas in South Dakota. 

Along South Dakota’s two interstate highways, I-90 (east-west) and I-29 (north-south), are nine concrete tipis built by Sioux Falls architect Ward Whitwam between 1968 and 1979. The tipis evoke the American Indian history and culture in South Dakota. The first two were built at rest areas on either side of I-90 near Wasta.

The tipis are constructed of eight prestressed concrete poles that represent the lodgepole framing structure of an American Indian tipi. The poles, each of which rises 56 feet and weighs 6.5 tons, are set into 35-foot-diameter concrete base. Each pole is notched and inlaid with a steel plate where it intersects with the others at the top in a spiral composition that results in a 3-foot-diameter opening at the top.

Whitwam's design is now on the National Register of Historic Places named by the S.D. State Historical Society. Unofficially, the rest stops opened 50 years ago on Interstate 90 were known as "Whitwam's wigwams." On a certificate designating their admittance to the National Register of Historic Places, on January 20, 2015, their title is more formal: "Ward Whitwam's concrete instate tipis."

We have left I-90 behind and are heading south on US-81.

We are now on SD-42 and this will bring us to the RV Park.

It all seems so rural yet we are just about
to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

I hesitated to add this next section of the blog about the Tower Campground we had made reservations to stay at while in Sioux Falls. Everyone has different expectations of what a RV Park/Campground should be and reasons for picking a particular stop. We needed to stay somewhere that would verify that we did in fact spend at least one night in South Dakota in Minnehaha County. When we went online looking for a park that was open this is the only one that popped up. The price was steep, in our opinion, at $72 a night but it was the only place we could find open so we booked. (It was all about what was available to meet our criteria.) Tom did ask what the amenities were and she said a picnic table, a laundry room and clean bathrooms. My first thought when we pulled into the site was it would have to be a very small picnic table. 
I have a couple of pictures of this campground below and you will have to judge for yourself as to what you think including if we are being to judgmental about this park considering the price.  I will say the staff was helpful and the laundry room was very nice and clean. I believe it also doubled as the "clubhouse", We never went in the bathrooms so I cannot comment on there condition. Though I would guess like the laundry they were clean. Honestly, if you look online, the reviews for this place are mostly excellent. 

The sign is our first impression of the Tower Campground.
Click on it and will open larger in a new window.

Our site was behind the RV on the left.
We pulled in and Tom went into register. Sitting there waiting

I knew we had just paid $72 a night for three nights for one
of the sites in front of me.

I knew it was not one of these because they were back ins.

This was our site.
Nothing like sitting out next to your home looking at 
your neighbors sewer hook up.

This was our view out the front window of the pull thrus
on the black top. They paid the same price we did $72.

I am guessing this is one of the Deluxe sites.
They mention a larger site, a firepit, and
a picnic table in the description. 

We have stayed at several RV Parks over these last 9 years. Actually we have been camping together since Memorial Day Weekend 1971 and that was in a tent we set up in the rain at Corner Lake, a National Forest Campground, very rustic but we had a firepit and picnic table. We would not rate this campgrounds as the worse one we have stayed at but it would not be in the top half.  We have paid less for RV Parks/Campgrounds with actual amenities. I will say this it did serve its purpose for us but the price was ridiculous and in our opinion their website and what we found when we got there were somewhat different. Except for two picture, one of the front of motorhomes on blacktop and a back up site, all the pictures look like a park filled with trees. Plus, they mention, "Large shade trees make you feel like you're in the woods". Lesson learned really study the pictures and read all the reviews, if we had we would have had a better idea of what to expect.

If you need to stay in Sioux Falls, SD in Minnehaha County it meets that criteria. We would suggest a back-in site which is a little cheaper and those sites seemed to be roomier. The campground did seem to be kept up, except for the road around the area with trees that needs help. Winters can be hard on roads so they could still be going to take care of the several holes and rough areas. We needed to circle this road to get into our site which is why I make this comment. If we would have had nice weather while we were there the area for sitting out would have been a big disappointment. Full disclosure: when all is said and done, though we would not be happy paying the price, if we needed to stay in Sioux Falls again we would consider staying here a second time but we would choose a back-in. We did take a ride through the campground area at the fairgrounds, opening date May 1st, and it is one large parking lot of grass with some full hookups. We, at this time of the year, would worry about sinking right in we could see where someone had done so. They charge $40 a night.  

All and all we enjoyed out time in Sioux Falls. We were able to take care of why we came this way and we even did a little site seeing which I will share in the next blog.

National Autism Awareness Month
April 1, 2023 -- April 30, 2023

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