Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Quick Trip to SD

As a fulltime traveler, I still must have a permanent address for legal purposes, things like license plates, vehicle registration, taxes, and drivers license.  My choice was South Dakota since I used to have kids living there.  Although the kids have moved on, I still like my SD residence, but the downside is the requirement to return every five years for a drivers license renewal.  I was just there two years ago, but the license was due yet.  I figured Cheyenne, WY, was the closest I was going to come this year, so I made plans to drive my car up to Hot Springs, SD, to renew my drivers license.  It was a quick trip up, just two days, but if I am going somewhere, I will experience the place.  So here is what I saw on my quick trip to SD.
Hot Springs is the home to a large VA Center.  This complex was originally opened  as Battle Mountain Sanitarium in 1907.  Hot Springs gained popularity in the 1890s as a place to go for cures of rheumatism and other like diseases because of the mineral springs found in the area, so it was natural to consider building a large sanitarium too.  Built as the one and only facility to treat disabled veteran soldiers on a short-term basis, it has served veterans for over 100 years.  

This is how the facility looks today.  It is now part of the Black Hills VA system and many of the buildings are still being used in their original capacity.  Sadly, while we were there we found there is a move to close this facility by the government.  Many veterans have moved and settled in this area in their retirement to be close to this hospital, and now the government is looking at closing.  I hope the citizens and veterans win this cause.

The main entrance of the VA complex.

Notice how most of the buildings are built from red sandstone?  I am looking across the creek at the city hall, built in the late 1800s.

I liked the blue bison they placed on top to advertise their cafe.

The Braun Hotel was built in 1908 and is still operating.  The Springs Steakhouse is only open in the evening and offers a 5 oz filet mignon with salad bar and potato for only $8.95.  We had dinner there and also enjoyed the historic restoration of an old hotel.

The Evans Hotel was opened in 1892, but now serves as senior housing with over 85 apartments.

Kidney Springs Gazebo, built in 1920. 

Kidney Springs is one of 170 thermal springs found in the area.  We tried the water, but it isn't thermal anymore, or at least didn't feel warm to us.  They still say drinking the waters are healthy for you and will cure many ills.

The city is hurting for attractions though.  This waterfall was listed as a 'must see' attraction.  It was a nice, small waterfall, along a great walking/biking trail along the river, but nothing spectacular.

Evans Plunge is the primary hot spring in the area.  It was used for years by the Indians in its natural state before the pioneers settled the area.  In fact, the reason Battle Mountain got its name was from fighting which went on between the Cheyenne and the Sioux.  Even though the Sioux won, they made an agreement with the Cheyenne allowing everyone access to the healing waters.  Evans Plunge was built in 1890 over mineral springs with a temperature of 87 degrees.

This Union Station, built in 1891, is said to be the smallest Union station in the world.  It is now the visitor center.

Ten miles out of town is found Cascade Falls, another of the 'must see' attractions.

I had all my papers ready and I was waiting at the door when the drivers license office opened.  In less than 30 minutes I was done and had a new license.  Since my tags were also due, I next headed to the county offices and renewed my tags as well.  So after breakfast, we were headed back to Wyoming, with a route through Nebraska.

We passed lots of trains loaded with coal heading south.  Some had some great graffiti painted on the cars.

National Grasslands fascinate me since there is nothing there.  

I'm glad we have preserved the grasslands, but it is miles upon miles of fields of natural grasses and rolling hills.  I know there are several other National Grasslands, with one located in Kansas.  Not sure where the others are.

We passed by Fort Robinson, which was established in 1874.  It played a major role in the Sioux Wars, 1876-1890.  In its history is served as a K-9 corps during WWII, and also a German prisoner of war camp.  In 1948 it was transferred to the Dept. of Agriculture, but in 1960 it was declared a historic landmark.

Some of the first landmarks the pioneers saw after crossing the Nebraska prairies were the  Courthouse and Jail Rocks.  Nearby was located the Mormon, Oregon, California Trails as well as the Pony Express route.

About 10 miles down the road was Chimney Rock, another prominent landmark.  Many settlers, on their way west, stopped here since it was also near the Platte River.

Scottsbluff was aptly named for the rock formations found in the area.  Large outcroppings of rock would daunt any settler looking to cross west.  But through openings like this the various trails all merged.

Just down the road we were back in Wyoming where we picked up the RVs and headed south to Longmont, Colorado.

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