On September 14th, our third day of travel during our western vacation, we crossed the state of South Dakota and entered Wyoming. Although it was a day of driving, it wasn't difficult to find things of interest to photograph.
Scattered here and there throughout the South Dakota prairie are old abandoned buildings, looking lonely and forlorn on the rolling landscape.
The South Dakota scenery is unique in its beauty. Much of the gently rolling terrain is covered with gorgeous golden wheat fields. At this time of year, most of the wheat had already been harvested, but many of the fields we saw still contained the large round bales of straw.
It's nearly 300 miles (482 km) from Mitchell, SD, where we had stayed the night before, to Rapid City, SD, on the western border of the state. In between, there are no towns of significant size. For miles and miles, as you drive across the state, there are signs advertising Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota, until you just think you HAVE to stop there or you'll miss something exciting.
Apparently we weren't the only ones who thought we HAD to stop at Wall Drug.
Inside of Wall Drug
Inside Wall Drug, there are shops of all kinds, as well as an assortment of eateries. There are mannequins positioned throughout the store, representing various historical and contemporary western figures. It's a colorful and interesting place to visit. And it helps to break up the monotony of the seemingly endless miles.
Shortly after crossing into the state of Wyoming on Interstate 90, we saw a sign advertising the Vore Buffalo Jump. So, of course, we had to stop.
Plains Indians depended upon buffalo for many of their material needs – food, shelter, clothing, tools, fuel, ceremonial objects, even toys. Prior to acquiring horses in the 18th century, hunting individual animals on foot with bows and arrows was difficult and dangerous.
Vore Buffalo Jump
Tribes from across the northern Plains used this natural sinkhole, now known as the Vore Buffalo Jump, to trap bison between 1500 A.D. and 1800 A.D. Huge volumes of bone and assorted artifacts have been held in place by the bowl shape of the sinkhole. Within the site are the butchered remnants of as many as 20,000 bison as well as thousands of chipped stone arrow points, knives, and other tools. The materials are contained within 22 cultural levels that extend downward to a depth of nearly 20 feet.
This building provides shelter for the University of Wyoming Field School archaeologists, who significantly expanded the excavation unit in the summer of 2011, as well as a boardwalk around the excavation and displays. The facilities were closed for the season when we were there, so we had no opportunity to view any of the artifacts.
Following the site’s discovery during construction of I-90 in the early 1970s, University of Wyoming archaeologists documented the exceptional quality and importance of the site in two summers of excavation. The family of Woodrow and Doris Vore donated the property to the non-profit Vore Buffalo Jump Foundation.
There are numerous buffalo jumps scattered throughout the American and Canadian west, but this is the first we've ever visited. It would have been a gruesome sight to witness, but it was necessary for the survival of the Indians who used this method of hunting.