Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
Our route to the Badlands took us first to the Minuteman Missile Site. Like the Titan Missile system, (See Jets, Missiles and Hummers) the Minuteman was a national defense system devised in the cold war. A series of 150 missile silos, each equipped with intercontinental ballistic missile and a nuclear weapon warhead, were operated by 15 separate control stations. The idea of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD in more than one sense) was that if the USSR was to send a nuclear bomb our way, we could sent plenty back their way. And by having many missiles distributed over several states, and hidden underground, it was deemed impossible that an enemy attack could incapacitate all of them, leaving plenty to devastate our attacker. Again, like the Titan Missile System, the Minuteman has been deactivated. The museum has plenty of interesting exhibits and scary stories of how close the world came to WWIII and/or total annihilation.
Prairie Homestead Visitor Center
South of the Minuteman site, and before you get to the Badlands, is this Homestead memorial. It is built on the grounds of Ed Brown’s place, a sod house he built in 1909. They claim it is one of the last remaining original sod homes still intact. Unfortunately, it is closed temporarily. But we still could see some interesting old farm implements, some nice birds, and some unusual prairie dogs.
This contraption below looked like a derrick, or a well drilling tower. (If you have more ideas, let me know!) It was powered by a horse going in circles, turning gears and a drive shaft. You can see the final drive gears and transmission which let you start, stop or reverse power. I hope the horse looked better than this metal facsimile.
The stars of the area were these white Prairie Dogs! They are all over the place, and as white as can be. We did see a brown one nearby, probably just endured there for comparison.
Interior, South Dakota
Our campground was actually south of the entrance to Badlands National Monument, in the town of Interior, South Dakota. With a population of about 95, it claims that lots of Pro Rodeo Riders rode there, and Lawrence Welk performed there often in his early days. I bet that makes you wanna check it out! Ah one anna two anna… (In case you’re old enough to remember Lawrence Welk.)
This little church is about the only photogenic building I saw.
Badlands National Park
From our campsite we could see the strange formations that are the Badlands. The area is huge, and the unusual shapes seem to go on forever. Different strata layers are sometimes distinctly different colors, or sometimes just strong ridges running through the rock. I have lots of pictures here, but little I need to say. Enjoy them.
Our goal was to leave South Dakota and leisurely head for Lincoln, to be with family. We would arrive Sunday or Monday… but Friday as we drove south, we were in a terrific storm. Dramatic wind, rain zooming straight sideways, and occasional hail. We arrived in a campground where we had planned to stay, and it was covered in water. Not like flooding, just a film of water to ensure all was mud – everywhere! The site was just barely long enough for our home, and we had to park the car elsewhere. Even though it was nice to quit driving in the storm, we couldn’t imagine staying in the mud pit. We called our campground in Lincoln, and worked out an early arrival. So more storm traveling, but it felt good to be in a safe, clean site. We needed fuel on the way, and while refueling, even under the truck stop’s roof, I got so completely soaked it changed all my clothes before driving on! It was crazy!
One unexpected treat was to find that our daughter Becky was playing in a flute quartet for church, and brother-in-law Steve and his kids Sandy and Casey were doing the rest of the music for the same service! It was well worth braving the storm to celebrate God with family!