Tuesday, June 14, 2011

From Sioux Falls to a Straight River

THE MONARCH OF THE PLAINS (AKA THE AMERICAN BISON OR BUFFALO).

We spent the weekend in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and enjoyed a gathering of Jerry's extended family on Sunday.  Monday morning, we headed off in the car for a week in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But, on the way out of Sioux Falls, we stopped at Falls Park, a beautiful place northeast of downtown on the Sioux River.

LOVE THAT MUDDY WATER.

The park was developed in the 1990s and improvements continue to be made.  The 1908 Sioux Falls Light and Power Company hydroelectric plant is now the Falls Overlook Cafe.  It's got a great menu, charming spaces to sit and relax, picture and history books to browse, historic photos, and gourmet coffees. Jerry's maternal grandfather worked in that very building beginning in the 1930s; he would have appreciated a good cup of coffee at the time.

THE HYDROELECTRIC PLANT: NOW, FALLS OVERLOOK CAFE.

Sioux Falls was still a young city at the time the hydroelectric plant was built, having been founded in 1857.  South Dakota became a state in 1889 — although most of my New York family still think Jerry grew up in Dakota Territory or, as my father used to say, "the Dakotas."

THE RUINS OF THE OLD QUEEN BEE WHEAT MILL IN THE CENTER BACKGROUND.
OPENED IN 1881.  CLOSED IN 1883.  DESTROYED BY FIRE IN 1956.


The old plant and other structures were built from the beautiful Sioux quartzite mined right there at the prison quarry on the river.  Prisoners from the prison on the bluff overlooking the falls mined the quartzite and then used horse-drawn wagons to haul the dressed blocks of stone up the bluff to add onto the prison and to create the wall that replaced the original wood stockade.

JOHN MORRELL & CO. MEAT PACKING PLANT VIEWED BEHIND THE PARK'S VISITOR CENTER.

Adjacent to the park is John Morrell & Co., founded in England in 1827 and considered to be the oldest continuously operating meat manufacturer in the U.S.  Jerry's mother, father, and several aunts and uncles all worked there at some time.

JERRY'S MORRELL MEATS TOY TRUCK.  PURCHASED BY HIS MOTHER IN THE EARLY 1950s.
DONATED TO CHARITY IN EARLY 2011.


Jerry remembers taking tours of the plant when he was a kid.  "Tony" gave the tours and you could actually walk on catwalks and observe the animals being slaughtered.  I'm glad they don't do that anymore.  A little bit of trivia from Jerry:  The sheep were led to slaughter by a goat (because sheep would willingly follow goats).  So, the goat was called the "Judas Goat."

ONE QUICK PHOTO OUTSIDE MORRELL'S — THE STENCH WAS INTOLERABLE!

We left Sioux Falls, South Dakota, late morning for our 262-mile (422-km) drive to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where we now enjoy the city and incredible friends.  On the drive up through Minnesota yesterday, after stopping along the way for lunch, gas, and to wash more bug guts off the windshield, we made a final potty stop at a rest area about an hour south of the city.  We probably would have stopped at this particular rest area whether we had to go or not.

REST AREA ON THE STRAIGHT RIVER IN MINNESOTA.  WE USED THE FACILITIES.
NO ONE CHALLENGED US.

15 comments:

  1. What an interesting 'tour' Mitch! Lots of history there. Loved that cafe overlooking the river....what a spot!
    I like how tidy and clean is posts are....makes it easy to read.
    I assume you guys survived the Straight River rest stop.

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  2. Jim: Thanks for the very kind comments. Not only did we survive the Straight River, we were empowered by it. And we left it quite bent.

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  3. Nice pics of the falls. Seem to recall the term "Judas goat" long filed away in my synapses. Looks like a real nice road trip.

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  4. Frank: The road trip continues to be a lot of fun.

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  5. I didn't know rivers even HAD gender. I guess I should have. I mean, Old Man River and all. And "the river, she rises, just like she used to do."

    Wait, aren't those the same river? Talk about kinky!

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  6. I can't help thinking that the Overlook cafe would make rather a nice house but perhaps a bit noisy with the river! Next time you visit the rest stop may be the "mostly straight but a bit confused" river stop.

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  7. Ah, the play with words... "Judas Goat" and others. At least you went in bent at Straight River rest stop, and when you finally came straight out, you were still bent! ;) Do they flush it with water from the river?

    We mostly forget how marvelous our own countries are to visit as tourists. If it's a whole continent like the America's, or the 'backyard' of a county [as here in Europe].

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  8. Man, why did you donate the truck to me? It's so cool! m.

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  9. Mitch,
    I am enjoying reading about your road trip, keep it up. You are going to places that I don't ever intend to, so at least I am getting my education through you. It is easy to forget how big and diverse our country is.

    Enjoy your family, friends and travel safe

    www.travelwithscott.com

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  10. Walt the Fourth: I'm suddenly in love with that Old Man River. Never truly appreciated HER before.

    Craig: Great white noise at the cafe. You wouldn't need a sound spa. I prefer "The Totally Bent River" rest area.

    Tippin: To be honest, this road trip is made much more interesting for me because I'm sharing it with you and so many others living around the world. I've been looking at everything from a different perspective.

    Mark: Shoot!

    Scott: I'm happy to be your eyes and to offer you my biased view. And thanks! It continues to be an incredible trip.

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  11. Your "bug guts" comments made me remember a joke my dad used to tell:

    Q: What's that last thing that goes through a bug's mind as it hits the windshield?

    A: It's ass.

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  12. Walt the Fourth: Groan... :)

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  13. Sorry, that's the best I can do... ;)

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  14. Tony the tour guide was also the Morrells photo guy..he did the bird whistle while doing the tours..to let the workers know..so no cussing would be heard..etc
    He was killed while walking across Minnesota Ave..a few years ago..Loved the Morrell employee picnics ..My dad worked there 45 years..Francis Linneweber

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  15. Francis:
    Thank you so much for visiting and for adding to the story. I read your comment to Jerry and he loved it; he had no idea about the bird whistle, but did remember that Tony was also the photo guy.

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