June 7th ~ Mitchell, South Dakota ~
We had a full day, and I am concerned that we may be stretching Shirley a bit. She is not used to doing this much walking and I can see her getting weary as the day progresses. I don’t want her to overdo it, and get sick or injured, so we will be watching closely.
Our morning started in Sioux Falls, SD. Falls Park is located on the Big Sioux River, and has been the center of life in the region for many years. The Native American people are the first to visit and brought stories of the falls to European explorers. The city was founded here in 1856 and industry developed along the river.
According to park literature, “many of Sioux Falls historical buildings are made from Sioux Quartzite. The “pink rock” is the hardest rock, second only to diamonds. The park covers 123 acres. Each second an average of 7,400 gallons of water drop 100 feet over the course of the falls”.
The five-story observation tower is attached to the visitors center and is free. The views from on top are quite impressive.
The wedding we attended last weekend where our niece became “Mrs Porter” was part of the motivation for us to stop here.
I’m not sure if the sculpture, Wayne Porter, is an artistic genius, an eccentric loner, a strange duck, or a mixture of all of the above.
His sculpture garden is created from a variety of different metal items and scattered over the side of a hill that sits above I-90 and beside a pasture that is home to a herd of cows. It is easy to walk through the area if you are reasonably fit, but do beware of dried cow dung, uneven ground and prairie dog holes.
An early favorite theme was fish and dragons, but now he has moved onto larger creatures with an enormous bull head and horse being among his latest creations.
We spent about half an hour just visiting with the artist while we waited for a golf cart to become available after deciding it might be too treacherous for Tim’s mom.
Mixed in amongst sculpted vultures, colorful fish, whimsical dragons, and so much more are large hand painted signs with his poetry.
The ballerina was amongst my favorites.
But probably the crown jewel would be the bulls head.
Standing 60 feet high, it is the same size as the heads on Mt Rushmore. Weighing in at 25 tons, it took Mr. Porter three years to complete.
Known around the world as a folk-art wonder, it is located on the prairie of South Dakota. Built in 1892, as a means to draw people to the area, this one-of-a-kind building has been celebrating local agriculture for over 125 years.
Each year a new decorating theme is chosen, and the entire outside of the building is redone. The outside is stripped and new corn and grains are put into place. 3,000 bushels of rye, oat heads and sore dock bundles are dried to be used. Then roughly 325,000 ears of corn are sawed in half and nailed to the building following the artists sketch.
Just a few miles from the Corn Palace, we chose to overnight at Lake Mitchell Campground. It has some lovely trees to provide shade in the heat, and a few spots even have lake views.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we got to share the natural beauty and magnitude of the falls, then examine the quirky and whimsical metal sculptures that Wayne Porter has designed and created before moving on to the elaborate corn decorations found no-where-else-on-earth. We are now in for the night next to beautiful Lake Mitchell. Life is good!