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Off the Beaten Path in South Dakota (Part 1)

Like many states, South Dakota is home to some stranger attractions.

Porter Sculpture Park

Located in Montrose, South Dakota, this is the dream of artist Wayne Porter and his quirky sculptures.  Inspired by working in a blacksmith’s shop, Wayne has been sculpting from metal since age 12.  He wanted everyone to enjoy his sculptures, most of which are made of junk metal from scrap yards.  Wayne focuses on animals, and other objects that reflect his life growing up in the prairies of South Dakota.  With over 50 pieces constructed to this day, his largest piece rivals that of Mount Rushmore:  a 60 foot tall bull head!  He is currently working on a large metal horse sculpture.  Wayne’s art can be seen in full at www.portersculpturepark.com.

Devil’s Gulch

Located in Garretson, South Dakota, Devil’s Gulch is home to a famous incident in history.  The outlaw Jesse James is notorious in history, but legend persists he was able to jump the ravine with his horse in order to evade capture for one of his nefarious deeds.  No one knows if this is possible (and doesn’t want to try), but Devil’s Gulch loves advertising James’s supposed leap of faith.  Only a half a mile long, Devil’s Gulch has been exaggerated in legend, but is still visited to this day.  The best part is:  It’s free!  Tours are given by yourself, for yourself, and donations are always welcomed.

Directions:

I-90 exit 410. Turn north onto Hwy 105 for seven miles. Turn left onto Dows St/Hwy 122 for a half-mile, then right onto Main Ave. through town. Turn right onto 5th St., then a quick left through the gate into Devil's Gulch Park. Drive down the dirt road; the bridge across the Gulch is on the left side of the parking lot.

 

Petrified Wood Park

Located in Lemmon, South Dakota, the petrified wood park is pretty much how it sounds. Filling an entire city block, this park was built by amateur geologists between 1930 and 1932.  Property of the city, it consists of hundreds of conical sculptures, two museums, and “the castle”: made up of pounds of fossilized dinosaur and mammoth bones.  The Petrified Wood Museum is made up of antiques from the town, and its floors are even made of petrified wood. The second museum is a gift shop and paper history of the park, with all of its articles in print headlines.  There is also a time capsule, with things from 1989- which was part of a massive overall to the Park. 

Directions:

Main and 6th St., five blocks north of US 12.

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