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Out There on the Edge of the Prairie

Travels in the Dakotas

View The Dakotas 2020 & Mid-Atlantic on countycollector's travel map.

Scenery in parts of the United States can be easy to predict—mountains in Colorado, desert in Arizona, farmland in Iowa, or lakes in Minnesota. Of course not every state fits nicely into categories. North and South Dakota are good examples. The western part of both states is rugged, think the Black Hills or the Badlands while the eastern half tends towards field of wheat, corn, or sunflowers. What surprised me on my latest trip to these plains states were the number of small lakes in southeastern North Dakota. I suppose it should not have been such a surprise given that the area is just west of Minnesota—the Land of 10,000 Lakes (actually there are 11,842 in the state, but that’s not important). Admittedly, many of these lakes were small, though they were large enough to have names such as Clear Lake, Mud Lake, Coldwater Lake, and Green Lake. They were a nice change from the landscape otherwise devoid of anything but farms, grain elevators, railroad tracks, and rural highways.

Spend my days driving in sparsely populated areas meant I saw only a few of the odd sights that can be found in various parts of the USA. Those who read my last post will recall all the Paul Bunyan statues I encountered in northern Minnesota. Nothing quite so grand this time. I did see this sign in Lehr, ND.
The city sits on the border of Logan and McIntosh counties. With only about 70 residents, it lays claim to the smallest city located in two counties. Given that my goal is to visit every county in the USA, this sort of thing is right up my alley. Interestingly enough, the following day, I stopped in Gann Valley, SD which is the smallest county seat in the country (population 16).

I did find a couple more interesting bits of Americana on the final day of my journey. Behold the “World’s Largest Pheasant” in Huron, SD.
What else can one say about that? Well, I learned the ring-necked pheasant is the state bird of South Dakota despite having been introduced from China in the 1880s. Hunting pheasants is popular in the state. If I’m not mistaken, hunting season began the weekend after my trip. I did spot a few pheasants in the fields along the road over the course of the weekend. One ever flew right in from of my car early on Saturday morning.

As I was wrapping up the trip, my route took me through Mitchell, SD. I had visited the county back in 2017, but it’s always worth a stop to check out the Corn Palace. As expected the corn murals had changed since my last visit. Unfortunately, my time was short as I had an early afternoon flight to catch out of Sioux Falls. Rather than go into detail on the history of this unusual building, I’ll leave you with a picture and you can decide whether you want to search the internet for more info.
Over the course of my 3-day weekend, I collected postcards from 26 county seats, 7 in ND, 18 in SD, and that last remaining county in MN. If you recall from my last blog entry, my postcard from Otter Tail County got lost in the mail. In instances such as this, my remedy is to make a return visit and send another postcard. I’m happy to report, this one showed up. Minnesota becomes the 24th state where I have mailed and received postcards from every county seat. Here are the before and after maps showing my progress.
I don’t expect to make any more trips this year. I do plan to put together a “Year in Review” post sometime before the end of December. Look for that soon.

Until then…

Happy Travels

Posted by countycollector 18:43 Archived in USA Tagged south_dakota north_dakota county_collecting

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Having been away from my computer for the last couple of months of 202, I'm happy to see you made it out there to collect more counties.
I like that there is a giant pheasant in Huron, SD. It makes me think of a nice pairing for Paul Bunyan and a friendly pal for his ox over in MN.
Surprisingly enough, way back in the dark recesses of my brain, I remembered something about a corn palace somewhere in the Dakotas. Perhaps it resulted from a random spin on Google Earth. What a fascinating sight it must be! Admittedly, my travel goals don't run so thorough as your own. However, I think a visit someday to the Corn Palace will have to happen eventually. Please excuse the pun, but it just keeps "popping" into my head.
Thank you for sharing this. I'm looking forward to catching up on your latest posts.

by TuscarawasJones

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