The Black Hills, Prologue: Pierre

There are some blogs — particularly Catholicgauze and Coming Anarchy — that one can’t read without feeling a love of places. I also feel that way when visiting my native South Dakota. I’ve been lucky to be to some amazing places this summer — like the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square — and to visit less famous places that are home to folks I truly love, like Fort Wayne, Indiana and Nacogdoches, Texas. Yet South Dakota will always be South Dakota.

A Country Church at Fort Thompson, Crow Creek Indian Reservation

If you’ve made it to this bizarre sculpture, you’ve probably driven for 3.5 hours and are still half an hour away from Pierre on SD 34

The Imposing Capital Building. Our Governor‘s personal secretary gave me a baseball card with his face on it. Rounds ’06!

The All-Seeing Eye of the People Looks Down On Their Legislators. Or something. Actually it’s just the capital rotunda, but it’s fun imaginary what some of the symbolism means

This is easier to figure out. Girls with their tops misadjusted are good.

The Supreme Court has its own cozy nook.

Foreground: The lush capital grounds. Background: the arid Great Plains.

Our old Governor’s Mansion was a 1930s WPA project, and in such bad condition that our Governor, who is from Pierre anyway, moved back to his old house. Eventually we built him a new one, and this is about the view he has from his back yard.

The main division in the state is East River – West River. South Dakota is split in two by the Missouri, with a Central Plains, crop-based economy in the east and a Great Plains, cattle-based market in the west. From this park one can stare out into the frontier-but-East-River City of Pierre to the barbarian West River lands beyond. The uncouth locals of Fort Pierre, West River, South Dakota stare back at us. (In the entire history of South Dakota, no one from West River has ever been elected Governor.)

Last images from East River on this trip. When I worked for the state in Pierre I lived about a block from this spot.

Over the River, and to West River’s unending steppes!

The Black Hills, a tdaxp series
0. Pierre
1. Crazy Horse
2. Custer State Game Lodge
3. Blue Bell Lodge
4. Mount Rushmore
5. Goofy Custer
6. The Badlands