Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Home" to South Dakota

After a good visit with Jan and her family, we set off for South Dakota.  It was an easy trip.  John and I split the driving, and at the end of the day we pulled into Tower Campground  space #313 in Sioux Falls, SD.  Sioux Falls looks like a nice place to spend a couple of days, but we only saw the campground and their fantastic dog park.  The pups had a good time, and early the next morning we were off again.

Tuesday we crossed the middle of South Dakota and watched the fields and farms fly by. 

I again helped with the driving, while John took a turn with the camera.  He got these nice shots through the window as we trucked on (sorry, I couldn't help myself) down the road.  

Mid-afternoon we drove through Badlands National Park...

... and a few miles farther south to another campground where we have stayed before, the White River KOA.  We like the shade, the nice, big RV spaces and the friendly staff.  The dogs like their large doggie exercise area.  

Wednesday morning we were off again, reversing our path through the park.

On our way out, we stopped just outside the park at the Prairie Homestead.  The Homestead is the original home of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Brown, who homesteaded 160 acres here in 1909 when he was 55 years old.  The Browns lived there until he died in 1920, and their son, Charles, stayed on until 1936.  From then until 1949, the farm was rented by a Mr. Carr.  Through the efforts of descendants of the original owners, the property has been maintained as much as possible in its original state. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

The original sod house (the part on the left) was dug into the hillside.  It consisted of two rooms, the kitchen and eating area, and behind it the bedroom (where it was too dark for a photo).  

The floor is hard-packed dirt.  The upper exterior walls were made of buffalo grass sod cut with a “sodbuster” plow into strips 12 to 18 inches wide and three inches deep.  Two rows of sod were usually arranged parallel, making the walls approximately 24 inches thick.  Except for a small section by the window, all the the sod in the house is original...over 100 years old and still holding up the roof!  The large cottonwood roof beans are also original, as is the log front.

The section on the right as you look at the house became the parlor.  It was a deserted claim shack moved in and added onto the dugout a few years later.  A small part of the furnishings are original.  The rest are typical of what was used to furnish similar sod homes.

The “cave” or root cellar is the only structure that was rebuilt.  It had caved in and was dug out and restored.  The barn, chicken coop and other outbuildings are original.

In addition to the real chickens that range free on the property we enjoyed seeing the all-white prairie dog town at the Prairie Homestead.  

Like the unique white squirrels I saw earlier this year in North Carolina, these little guys are not albinos.  They're just white.  They are said to be descended from one white prairie dog caught on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and given to the Prairie Homestead by an officer of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.  The prairie dogs were everywhere, giving their shrill “alarm” call and dashing into their burrows if we got too close.  It’s a good thing we left the dogs in the truck!

We pulled into Custer’s Gulch RV Park mid-afternoon on Wednesday.  We spent a month here last year, so it feels like home.  It’s a good thing we got in early.   Not long after we were settled in, park personnel came by to tell us to prepare for a storm.  In a few minutes, we were watching quarter-size hailstones bounce in the grass and hoping our skylight would survive.  (It did, but we had some damage to our air conditioners and their covers, and to Tracker.)  Thankfully, we didn’t have the 60 mph winds they were predicting.

Here’s what the sky looked like after the storm.      

No comments:

Post a Comment