It became America’s 40th state on November 2, 1889. Home of the city of Bell Fourche, the geographical centre of the United States. The state capital, Pierre, is the only US state capital to share no letters with the state name. It’s the birthplace of author and journalist Thomas Brokaw and actress and model January Jones. Where ‘Sue’ was discovered, near the city of Faith, the most complete Tyrannosaurs Rex skeleton ever found. Home of Jewel Cave, the third longest cave in the world. Home of the world’s largest petrified wood forest, in the city of Lemmon. And it’s the home of the world’s only ‘corn palace’, whatever the hell that is. Today, we’re in the Mount Rushmore State, South Dakota.
South Dakota is a landlocked state in Midwestern America, bordered by Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming. It is the 17th largest state at 77,000 square miles, with the 46th largest population with 853,000 people. The state was named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux indigenous tribes, and means ‘allies’ or ‘friends’. The motto of the state is, ‘Under God the People Rule.’
In a 2001 survey, the state flag was voted the fifth worst flag in America and Canada. It was heavily criticised for the ‘unnecessary repetition of the state name.’ There was an attempt to change it in 2012, but the coup came to nothing.
Generally, South Dakotans are friendly, hospitable and warm people, who enjoy their cycling, fishing, hunting and running. Their state is one defined by a rich mixture of the state’s European, indigenous, rural and western origins, but is also known for its creativity, with many artists and authors hailing from this state.
It’s an agricultural land of many lakes and waterways, rugged national parks, forests, grasslands, rolling hills, low mountains, ravines and frontier towns, a place popular with tourists. But there’s much more to this state than Mount Rushmore…
You have human made wonders such as Beaver Creek Bridge, in Wind Cave National Park. A simple yet elegant concrete structure, sitting pretty and nestled rather majestically in a landscape of sumptuous wonder. A great structure that has become an icon and a part of the land it resides in. You also have the striking and dominating Coughlin Campanile. A 165-foot tall striking red monument, jutting from the landscape dramatically yet with a dignified and respectful humility. Truly stunning. And then there’s the wonderful Spearfish Canyon. It demonstrates rather well the diversity of this state. This is not the wild and rugged landscape present elsewhere in the state, it’s soft and gentle. Rich in a thousand varieties of trees. Sprinkled with the occasional pool and unusual brief rock formations. Stepping into such grace is one foot on another world.
But I think the greatest sight of this state is the wonderfully named Badlands National Park. It is unbelievable. Alien in many regards. Every photo is like a canvas plucked from the mind of an exquisite genius. It is beyond any earthly realm. Not just a landscape from another world, but a landscape from the mind of a science fiction artist. The rock formations don’t seem real. The strips of colours are so graceful and elegant they seem to be painted on. Everywhere one looks, one is surrounded by breathless beauty. It is a place I do not think anywhere on Earth can match. It is gorgeous. An ethereal, surreal and incicurable dream.
South Dakota. The state of history, creativity and corn.
1) Badlands National Park (credit: photography.nationalgeographic.com)
2) Badlands National Park (credit: nps.gov)
3) Badlands National Park (credit: lightight.com)
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