Monday, July 23, 2012

Sioux Falls & Elk Horn

We had another early morning wake up and a quick breakfast at the motel.  Gerry was happy to see they had waffles and we both stuffed ourselves with them.

A quick stop for a geocache and picked it up fairly quickly.  It was in a parking lot where they has signs saying parking was $50/hr for those not eating in their restaurant.  We were almost afraid to even stop and get the cache.

We were back on I-80 early and made very good time with the cruise control on 73 mph for long periods of time.   There were two construction zones where it was down to one lane, but it wasn't a problem.  There weren't any workers present for the 5-10 mile stretches of road they had down to one lane.  

We saw signs for a Danish Windmill at Elk Horn, IA and decided to check it out.  Elk Horn is about 5 miles off I-80 but there was a good two lane road leading there.   Evidently Elk Horn was settled by Danish immigrants around the 1840s and there are a lot of Danish flags and shops around.  They had a very large Danish Immigrant Museum and we went to check it out, but it was so hot outside we decided to just admire it from the car.

Danish Immigrant Museum
 The Danish Windmill is now an Iowa Welcome center and it was housed in the windmill that dated back to 1848.  It was in great shape and still looked like it could be made operational easily.

Danish Windmill
Thirty years ago the crazy dream of Harvey Sornson of reconstructing an 1848 Danish Windmill in Elk Horn was in full swing. It took one year and 300 volunteers to rebuild and restore the now 158 year old mill back to life. 
The Danish Mill Corporation Board of Directors has recently taken on a project to further demonstrate its Danish heritage and entertain its many visitors. The construction of a VikingHjem (Viking home) on the windmill’s grounds will offer tourists a chance to really take a step back in time. The two structures, the Mill and the VikingHjem, will complement one another through their historical significance.

The Danish community of Elk Horn, Iowa offers tourists a taste of the Old World with no passport required. The town’s Danish heritage is showcased by the 1800s authentic Danish Windmill. You can take a guided tour of the Windmill which starts with a 15 minute video, and then you can climb to the top and see the shuttered sails, grinding stones, and gearing made of wood and iron cogs. See how it all works together to grind wheat and rye flours with wind as they did 150 years ago.

The new VikingHjem demonstrates a typical structure used throughout Scandinavia and Northern Europe during the latter Dark Ages to the early Middle ages. You can experience the life of a Viking Smithy in 900 A.D. from the blacksmith shop and woodworking area to the demonstrations and lectures.

We arrived in Sioux Falls in time to tour the city a little bit.  We were surprised to hear there are around 200,000 residents in the area.  It has a vibrant downtown area and looks to be a booming town.  What a difference between Galesburg, IL and Sioux Falls, SD.

A trip to the Falls that was the center of the city was first on our agenda.  There is a beautiful park around the falls and they have partially restored the old mill and power station that were at the base of the falls.  Once again it was too hot to tour that much, but we did get out and get some pictures of the Big Sioux River and the falls.  The falls are carved out of quartzite that is harder than granite.   Many buildings in Sioux Falls are made out of the quartzite stones.

I included pictures of Gerry and me to prove we were actually here.

It was a short drive of 280 miles today and hardly any traffic so we made excellent driving time.  

Since we left Maryland, we have crossed the following major U.S. rivers:  Potomac, Ohio, Wabash, Illinois, Mississippi and soon to cross the Missouri river into Nebraska.  I need to pick up a geocache there to add to the list.  Funny the things we do to amuse ourselves.

1 comment: