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Archive for south dakota

A Mecca for Music Lovers

By Linda Tancs

The National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota, is a menagerie of melodious merriment. Carved crocodile zithers. Goldfish-shaped harmonicas. Strutting stringed peacocks. It’s all there, in addition to the oldest known harpsichord, rare Adolphe Sax-made saxophones, the rarest European pianos and other treasures. Lauded as one of the largest and most important collections of historical instruments in the world, the museum publicly displays 1,200 of its 15,000-strong collection, representing American, European and non-Western instruments from virtually all cultures and historical periods. Open year round, state residents enjoy free admission on federal holidays and summer Sundays.


Tribute to a Mountain Man

By Linda Tancs

Near an unpaved road on the south side of Shadehill Reservoir in northwestern South Dakota stands a tribute to a mountain man. The honoree is Hugh Glass, a fur trapper in the 1800s who was mauled by a grizzly bear and left to die in the wilderness. Luckily for Hugh, his indefatigable spirit set him crawling for 200 miles from the site of the attack to eventual safety (and medical assistance) at Fort Kiowa. A monument marks the spot where the bear attacked. His life is commemorated in the film The Revenant.

The Shrine of Democracy

By Linda Tancs

President Franklin D. Roosevelt referred to Mount Rushmore as America’s “shrine of democracy.” Created by famed sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his army of workers, the granite portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln represent the birth, growth, development and preservation of the country. Borglum created an opening called the Hall of Records behind the heads that was intended to house important information on the significance of these four presidents in American history. The chamber was left incomplete at the time of the sculptor’s death but was finished over 50 years later. The Hall of Records houses both original texts and copies of important American documents. Due to its precarious location, public access to the vault is closed, forever to remain a mysterious part of this national treasure. The mountain housing this monumental carving is named for Charles E. Rushmore, a New York City attorney who visited the area in 1885. The park is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota near Keystone and draws millions of visitors annually.

Where the Buffalo Roam

By Linda Tancs

South Dakota’s Custer State Park is where the buffalo roam. Nearly 1,300 buffalo—one of the largest publicly owned bison herds in the country—roam the park’s prairies and hills. Commonly sighted along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road that winds around the southern edge of the park, you can enjoy a different view of them en masse at tomorrow’s annual Buffalo Roundup. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, feel the clap and thunder of the herd as it’s driven by cowboys and cowgirls in a roundup event that’s actually a critical management tool. Want in on the action? Private citizens have a long tradition participating in the event. An orientation ride takes place today.

Land of the Dead Man’s Hand

By Linda Tancs

A legend of the American West, Wild Bill Hickock came to the tiny gold camp of Deadwood, South Dakota in search of his fortune.  Instead, he was gunned down during a poker match holding aces and eights, dubbed the Dead Man’s Hand.  You might think that spelled the end of gaming in this historic town (a National Historic Landmark).  No such luck (pun intended).  This frontier town offers an array of 24/7 gaming facilities, featuring slots and live Blackjack, poker and Texas Hold’em tables.

A Tour of the Universe

By Linda Tancs

Seventy-five miles east of Rapid City, South Dakota lies Badlands National Park, a treasure in the southwest part of the state consisting of 244,000 mixed acres of badlands formations and prairie.  The fossil beds are a big draw, a protected resource and the largest assemblage of known late Eocene and Oligocene mammal fossils.   But don’t spend all your time looking down at paleontologic wonders.  Now’s the time to look up.  During the summer from Friday to Monday nights, the park offers The Night Sky Program at the Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater.  Join a park ranger for a Tour of the Universe, punctuated by telescopic viewings of more than 7,500 stars in the night sky, including the Milky Way, star clusters, nebulae, planets and moons.  Visitors are also treated to fly-overs by numerous satellites.  Your cosmos awaits.

Rendezvous in the Black Hills

By Linda Tancs

Motorcycle mania hits the Black Hills of South Dakota during the Sturgis Rally from August 8 to 14 this year. The origins of the race began with the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club in 1936, with an official American Motorcycle Association (AMA) charter in 1937. AMA began promoting the racing events which started the now famous Rally in Sturgis on August 14, 1938. That weekend celebration in 1938 had a lineup of only nine racers and a small audience watching the races.  Now the rally will hold 12 events, including motocross racing, a 1/2 mile race, hill climbs, road tours and short track racing.  As you can see, the Sturgis Rally has grown quite a bit since the first rally in 1937!  Is this the greatest motorcycle rally anywhere?  You decide.


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