Home Away From Home, South Dakota, Wyoming

South Dakota to Wyoming in a Day

How could we leave Spearfish, SD without going to the number one attraction in the city? With an 11:00 checkout time we realized we could make a quick visit this morning. It was not far from the campground so off we went to the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery.

It was a fascinating place and yes, it smelled like fish! From the parking lot, we crossed a small bridge which took us to a large pond filled with hefty fish. They obviously thought we were going to feed them because they all gathered up closely. Our next stop was the Aquarian downstairs which was stocked with rainbow trout, brown trout, snake river cutthroat trout, and brook trout. The brown trout and the rainbow were very easy to spot. It was also easy to distinguished between the male and female as the male have a hooked lower jaw. There were many more females than males. Another interesting fact was that trout grow about a half an inch a month. Although there are approximately 32,000 different kinds of fish in the world trout are one of only 800 freshwater species found in the United States. The trout are not native to the Black Hills. In the late 1800’s Congress appropriated funds to investigate the possibility of placing a hatchery near the Black Hills to establish trout populations in the area. The area was chosen due to its pristine water, habitat and food sources. Because the Black Hill streams have clean, cold water and vegetated shores the waters are ideal for stocked trout to do well.

We were able to tour the Booth House where D.C. Booth and his family eventually lived until his forced retirement. Subsequent families who lived in the house had to rent it and when they left, of course, they took their furniture thus only one piece of the original furniture remains in the home. Everything else is a replica but very nicely done.

The Museum
The museum was small but very interesting with a video to explain the beginning of the hatchery. One of the pictures on the wall featured a tombstone for a worker who died in 1916. His cause of death listed was “Overwork at the Fish Hatchery”!

We also visited a replica of the railcar used to quickly move fish from hatcheries to lake and rivers across the country. Everything in the car was used to transport fish but of course, they had to have personnel. The foldup beds for the personnel were suspended from the ceiling so that every available space was used.

Of course, the volunteer asked where we were from and when I said North Carolina she remarked that she used to live in NC. Oddly enough she had also been to Kinston and visited our son’s brewery, Mother Earth! Small World.

The grounds including Ruby’s Garden are lovely but we didn’t have to explore them much. We did see the life-size bronze sculpture depicting the important role fishing plays in American society and culture today.

We hurried back to the campground and completed breaking camp. Then because we have a faulty coach battery we had to jumpstart the coach again. Jerry drove to the only accessible gas station we had seen and I followed in the car.

Our first look at Devils Tower! Wow!
After getting the gas we hooked the car up to the RV and took off for Devils Tower, Wyoming. It was a short drive although a bit harrowing at time. A 10% grade is a lot to climb in a gas RV not to mention the few u-turns. We arrived and were checked in at Devils Tower/Black Hills KOA very quickly.

After lunch, we headed out for Sundance. Sundance, Wy on a Sunday afternoon is one quiet town! We rode around looking for the Crook County Museum and the Sundance Kid statue. Around and around the blocks we went until we finally stopped and realized that we were right at the statue and the museum. The museum closed at 3:00 on Sundays so I just got a picture of the statue and then we headed on to Beulah to the Vore Buffalo exhibit.

Welcome to Wyoming!
On the way to the Vore Buffalo exhibit, we stopped by the Wyoming Welcome Center where we were able to garner a lot of information plus enjoy the many displays they had. It is a warm welcome to Wyoming.

We learned even more information about the bison at the Vore Buffalo exhibit. Years and years ago in order to kill the bison, the Plains Indians and other tribes from the Northern Plains would gather for a communal hunt to drive herds of bison over a cliff. The bison would either die from a broken neck from the fall, bleed to death or be suffocated by the others on top of them. Right there at the bottom, after the bison were dead the tribes would butcher and process nearly all of the bison. At that time the Plains had no horses or guns so herding was the only way they could get the bison which supplied the food, clothing, tools, fuel, ceremonial objects, and even toys. Can you imagine trying to herd bison on foot? Scary but that was their only option as hunting individually was much more dangerous. Jerry suddenly developed a headache so we did not take the tour which would have been interesting but instead got a brief introduction to the exhibit by a very knowledgeable young lady working in the gift shop.

Since Jerry’s head was hurting guess who got to drive back? Wow, it really wasn’t that bad even though we had a 9% grade at one point. It surely is easier and quicker in a car than in a motor home – not that I drove the motor home!

We arrived back at the campground, had dinner and then headed over to the campground office where they show the movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Much of the movie was filmed at Devil’s Tower and we could plainly see it in the movie. As we watched the characters climb up the tower Jerry remarked to me twice that we wouldn’t be taking the same trails!

This morning when I woke up, I checked the weather. One source said it was 62 degrees and the other said 75 degrees. Since I don’t like to travel in shorts, I went with 62 degrees and put on my jeans and a long-sleeved tee. Guess which one was correct. Yeah, it was 75. The first order of business when we arrived in Devils Tower was to change clothes. I put on some shorts for the afternoon and then changed once again for the movie. With jeans and a sweatshirt that I put on shortly after the movie started plus the blanket Jerry brought, I was comfortable with the 52-degree temps! We’ll sleep good tonight!

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