Wednesday, August 15, 2012

1965 South Dakota Vacation Revisited Part 3

Even though Mt. Rushmore was the highlight of our August 1965 trip to South Dakota, there were a few things to see on the way, including the Corn Palace in Mitchell on US 16. Here's the brochure from that trip.

According to the brochure, the original Corn Palace was built in 1892. There was another constructed in 1905, and the third one (which we saw) dates from 1921. The building covers almost one half of a city block. The brochure notes, "In a series of panels, there are pictures, composed entirely of corn, depicting a theme on wild game, hunting, pioneer history, etc. Along its roof are Moorish minarets and towers, which, with their bright colors, add greatly to the design and appearance of a palace."

Rockerville Postcard
Another place right on US 16 on the way to Mt. Rushmore that we stopped at was Rockerville. It was originally a mining town, named for the "rockers" (that looked like a baby's rocking cradle) that miners used to sift their gold from the gravel.

By the 1960s when we passed through, Rockerville was a tourist trap, er... uh... attraction that resembled a Western town movie set. It had a bunch of small shops as well as places to eat or see an old-time melodrama show.

I don't remember if we spent much time there or not; my parents only took one picture – and none of us were in it. There's a few strangers in the shot, though (below).

I looked on the internet to see how Rockerville was doing today. To my dismay, two-lane Highway 16 – which ran right through the center of town – was widened in the years after our visit. As a result, the "new and improved" divided highway bypassed the town and the attraction – stranding it in the middle like the hole of a donut.

As a result, the small town virtually "died", as well as almost all of the businesses.

Here's a look at the abandoned Western town attraction today (below). Sadly, it's become a real ghost town.

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