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September 26, 2023: Rapid City and Beyond

We are starting the first day of our tour with Road Scholar.

In the morning we visited the High Plains Western Heritage Center.
This is a rare USA 40-star flag. It was when South Dakota and North Dakota became states on the same day. South Dakota is the fifth least populous state. There are nine Indian Reservations in this state. SD has the third highest population of natives behind Alaska and New Mexico. Most of them live off reservation in Rapid City.

In 1876 Rapid City was originally called Hay Camp. Today many retirees are coming to Rapid City. Costs are reasonable, and the climate is more moderate than the surrounding areas.

A surry with the fringe on top … like my Grandpa had when he was courting my grandma. He had the finest rig in the county. Grandpa was always in the transportation business – livery stable, trolley car, then gasoline station.
They have an impressive collection of barbed wire … so many varieties.

The city of Spearfish holds the world record for the fastest recorded temperature change. On January 22, 1943, at about 7:30 a.m. MST, the temperature in Spearfish was −4° F. The Chinook wind picked up speed rapidly, and two minutes later (7:32 a.m.) the temperature was +45 °F. The 49 °F rise in two minutes set a world record that still holds today. By 9:00 a.m. the temperature had risen to 54 °F. Suddenly, the Chinook died down and the temperature tumbled back to −4 °F. The 58 drop took only 27 minutes. The sudden change in temperatures caused glass windows to crack and windshields to instantly frost over.

This was an interesting map showing the stops on the Pony Express.

Black Hills are named for the dark appearance of the ponderosa pines when coming from the east. Black Hills are a holy pilgrimage for the Lakota, Cheyenne, Kiowa, and others.

Cheyenne Indians were here first. They were driven out by the Lakota in the mid 1700’s. First peoples have always been here since the dawn of time.

In 1874 there was a Custer Expedition to explore and map for placement of a possible fort. There were luxuriant fields of wildflowers that Custer’s troops could pluck while riding their horses.

In 1935 Frank Lloyd Wright visited  Spearfish Canyon and thought that it was more miraculous than Grand Canyon.

“Unique and unparalleled … a stately exposition of what decorated walls on enormous scale can do and be … how is it that I’ve heard so little of this miracle … elsewhere in our country.”

Many people who settled here were from the Ukraine then a part of Russia but spoke German due to the influence of Catherine the Great.

There is a nearby Frontier Military Cemetery where there are 180 plots.

“She wore a yellow ribbon is the traditional song and official anthem of the United States Cavalry/Armor and is still used by the US military to keep marching cadence. The song is based on the tradition of a yellow ribbon being associated with those waiting for the return of a loved one. It appears to have been brought to America from Europe.

Fort Meade was built in 1878 to protect settlements in the northern Black Hills, especially for the gold-mining town of Deadwood. Keystone is primarily a mining town. First it was tin then gold.

Caleb Carlton was appointed commander of the fort in 1892. He actually arrived with a mission. Other countries had their national anthems that they would play at official occasions, and America had none. His wife, Sadie, was actually the one who suggested “The Star Spangled Banner” would be a good one, because of the unusual circumstances that it had been written under and the respect that it showed for the flag, and Carlton agreed with her.

So he issued an order requiring that “The Star Spangled Banner” be played each evening when all the soldiers or sailors would muster at 5p.m., the end of the day, and it gives the soldiers the opportunity to pay their respects.

If you cannot see the colors, face and salute the music and think about our beautiful flag. Carlton directed “The Star Spangled Banner” be the last song played whenever the fort’s band performed. The colonel also ordered all persons present to rise and salute, and men to remove their hats if they were civilians. At the urging of renowned bandmaster John Philip Sousa, it was approved by Congress to become our National Anthem.

During the war with the British at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, the doctor who was old, sick, and bedridden kept inquiring, “Can you see?”

The verse ends with a question: “Is it still there? Can you see?”

The final verse talked of hopes, dreams and ends with a prayer.


Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center is like the International Space Station but underground. They are trying to reduce the effects of solar radiation on neutrinos and other particles as they do their fundamental research. Here is a link to their website for more information: https://sanfordlab.org/.

Neutrinos travel through everything.  They can be detected but not captured. These antisocial particles don’t interact with anything. There are no commercial or military applications at this time.

This lab is also searching for evidence of dark matter.

The USA is leading in neutrino research. Other labs are in Italy, Switzerland, England, Japan, Canada, and other countries.

The scientists here work with the next generation of scientists. Learning is inquiry based and 3D learning.

John Esposti – Black Hills Geology

This evening’s geologist talked about the earth. If you pay attention, she tells you where she has been and what she has been doing. Have friendship with the earth.

The dimensions of the Black Hills are 100 miles long x 50 miles wide.
The Black Hills have an uplift with erosion. There is an elliptical-shaped mountain range in the Black Hills with rings.
Geologists love this area: Shales, sandstone, red valley, limestone, schists or metamorphic rock and core granite.
People used the Missouri River like a highway before there were real highways. It divides South Dakota into east and west. The contrast between the two regions is striking. While east of the river is predominantly a corn- and wheat-growing region, with large numbers of pigs and poultry operations, the area west of the river is predominantly ranching with some dryland farming.

According to the National Park Service the Missouri River is the longest river in the United States. It starts in Montana and runs for about 2,350 miles before entering the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri.

The Cheyenne River helped to make the Badlands. The formations are soft, easily erodible, and changing. Badlands-type deposits are found all over the world.

Badger Clark writes poems and founded the cowboy poetry genre. He was determined to be the first South Dakota laureate.

The Madison Limestone is a thick sequence of mostly carbonate rocks in the Rocky Mountain and Great Plains areas. It is enormous and originated as a coral reef bigger than the Great Barrier Reef.

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