Sioux Falls, SD
Sioux Falls, SD
The main reason for going to South Dakota was to get our driver licenses renewed. The driver license office is closed Mondays, and everyone says it is crowded on Tuesdays and also on Fridays. Therefore, we timed our arrival in Sioux Falls for Tuesday so we could get our licenses renewed on Wednesday. We arrived about 10:00 AM. Mid morning is supposed to be better than early or late morning, and mornings are said to be less crowded than afternoons. In spite of our careful planning, the DMV office was jammed. We considered coming back the next day; but it was a rainy day anyway, and there could have been an even longer wait the next day, so we decided to stick it out and get it over with. We had to wait 5 or 10 minutes just to get a seat, then we waited about an hour for our numbers to be called
New federal laws require states to make sure applicants for drivers licenses are properly identified because driver licenses are widely accepted as identification to board airplanes and to enter certain federal buildings and facilities. We gathered up all the documents they said we needed, and we also took more than what was required - just in case. But there was no problem with any of our identification, and we walked out with new licenses in hand.
We planned an extra day in Sioux Falls just in case there would have been a problem at the DMV. Since everything went smoothly (other than the long wait), Margery had time to schedule a haircut on our free day. After her haircut, we decided to head into town to Falls Park to see the Falls on the Big Sioux River - especially since the sun finally came out.
The falls have long attracted people to the area starting with Native Americans. The first Europeans to see the falls were French explorers in the early 1700s, and the first American settlements were started in the 1850s.
The falls consist of the Upper Falls, the Main Fallls, the Lower Falls and a series of cascades. The photo below shows the Upper Falls.
The next photo shows Margery with the Main Falls in the background. The small building to the left is the turbine house for the Queen Bee Mill. The remnants of the main building of the mill itself are barely visible to the right of the turbine house.
The next photo shows a little closer view of the turbine house with the remnants of the main building behind it.
The 7-story mill, which was built from Sioux quartzite quarried at the site, cost about $500,000 - a LOT of money back when it was built from 1879 to 1881. Just two years after the mill began operation in 1881, it was bankrupt because of a scarcity of quality wheat and because of insufficient water power. The mill changed hands a few times, but no one could make a go of it. The mill was converted to a warehouse in the 1920s, and it was destroyed by fire in 1956. Only the turbine house and the stonework for the bottom couple of floors remains.
The photo below is another view showing the full width of the Main Falls.
We walked downstream to get yet another view of the Main Falls (near the top of the picture) with the Lower Falls in the foreground.
Below the Lower Falls is a visitor center with an observation tower...
...where you can get an excellent view of the park and all the cascades and falls with downtown Sioux Falls in the background. When we were here five years ago, the amount of water cascading over the falls was minimal. This time, there was water coming from everywhere!
From the side of the tower opposite the falls, we could see the John Morrell & Co. meat packing plant. Morrell, a subsidiary of Smithfield foods, is a major employer in the city of Sioux Falls.
Paul liked the stone sculpture of a buffalo near the base of the tower called "Monarch of the Plains," so we paused for a photo.
On the way back to the motor home, we stopped for an early dinner at Qdoba. Qdoba is one of our favorite chain restaurants, and, since there aren't that many around, we usually make a point of stopping when we find one.
When we began planning our summer travels back when we were in Florida for the winter, we decided to take our time getting to Sioux Falls to make sure the weather had time to warm up. Then, after we got our licenses, we planned to spend a little time in the western part of the state, after which we would meander south through Colorado and into New Mexico. However, when we heard that smoke from the wildfires in Arizona was sometimes finding its way all the way to New Mexico, we had second thoughts.
Even though firefighters are now starting to gain control over the Arizona wildfires, they still have a good way to go before the fires are out. Plus, there are now new fires right in New Mexico. With the possibility of smoke in the southwest combined with the fact that we have been experiencing temps in the 90's since the end of April, it seemed like a good year to head north. Since Minnesota is just a stone's throw from Sioux Falls, we decided to start our northern loop there.