We are currently in Kentucky, but I will be posting a few more blogs from South Dakota.
With a dog sitter in place for Makena (thanks Dick and Cheryl), we took a day trip over to Devils Tower, Wyoming, about 120 miles from Custer, SD. In 1906, Devils Tower became the nations first national monument. It plays a prominent part in the classic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” movie from 1978.
There are two theories about how the tower formed, one from geologists, and the other from Native Americans. Geologists agree that the tower is an intrusion, formed by magma, and has been exposed by erosion. There are multiple theories on how this occurred, but in simple terms, as the rock cooled, it contracted and formed hexagonal columns. (Todays math lesson: a hexagon has 6 sides)
The Native American legend is several girls were playing and a bear began chasing them. As they tried to get back to their tribe, they jumped on a rock and began praying to the rock to save them. The rock, only several feet in height, began rising out of the ground, out of reach of the bear. The bear attempted to claw its way to the top, forming the “claw” marks on the tower, but was unable to do so. Devils Tower remains sacred to many tribes today.
There is a relatively easy 1.3 mile walking trail encircling the tower, affording many different views of the columns. The base of the tower has a large rock pile, from the rock believed to have fallen off after the magna had cooled. The rocks at the base have been slowly eroding away, further exposing more of the columns of the tower.
Devils Tower, at a height of 867 feet, is a very popular park for rock climbing. There is a voluntary closure during the month of June, as many Native American Tribes hold ceremonies during this month. We were able to watch 3 climbers for a while. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the three, one at the top center, middle left, and bottom center. (you may need to click on the photo to enlarge it)
In 2008, Japanese sculptor Junkyu Muto installed a sculpture on the property, “Circle of Sacred Smoke”. The sculpture represents the first puff of smoke from the pipe used by Native Americans during their ceremonies. The two granite boulders beneath the sculpture are blast fragments from Crazy Horse Memorial.
After soaking up all the geology, we heading over to Belle Fourche, SD to finish up with some Geography and History. Belle Fourche (pronounced Bell Fuush), is the geographic center of the United States of America.
There is a large monument, with a geographic marker that I am standing on. Been there, done that!
All fifty state flags surround the monument.
Also at the monument is the Tri-State Museum (free admission, donations welcome) which has some interesting items on display. For the ladies that wanted curls, they could go down to the beauty parlor and sit under this machine, that looks like something found in a Frankenstein movie!
The museum had a photograph showing a women getting her hair done. It did not state how long this process took.
Vacuum cleaners have come a long was as well. This is the Great Northern Vacuum Cleaner, made in Chicago, Illinois. It is not electric, but a suction plunger model.
This is the Ironrite Mangle, a 1940’s model ironing machine. You would feed your clothes into the heated roller.
Below is the Hodge Bootery X-Ray Shoe Fitting Machine, which was popular in the late 1940s and early 1950’s. The shoe salesperson would take an x-ray of your feet to determine your proper shoe size. In 1950, they realized the hazards from the radiation, and by 1970, 33 states had banned the machines.
The museum was also selling a poster of ‘Crazy Horse’, with a disclaimer that it is “believed” to be the only known photograph taken of him, in 1877. In reality, no known photograph of Crazy Horse exists.
It was an interesting day, and the museum was a nice little find. We would recommend a trip out to Devils Tower if you are staying in the Black Hills, or as a stopover on the way out West.
Quote for the Day: “You will enrich your life immeasurably if you approach it with a sense of wonder and discovery, and always challenge yourself to try new things.” – Nate Berkus
Missed the geographic center at Belle Fourche…..darn it! Oh well, we’ll catch it next go round.
I like to find quirkie things to go and look at, especially when they are free!