Have you ever driven through South Dakota? If the answer is yes than you can understand how easy it is to bypass Sioux Falls. Hint: it’s a very, very, very long drive!
Well, today I want to make amends for my “evil” bias. My travel companion and I spent a morning walking through Falls Park which features the Big Sioux River adjacent to downtown Sioux Falls. See the photo above. Falls Park is similar to St. Anthony Falls park located along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.
Both sites suffered significant exploitation by commerce requiring major clean-ups nearly 100-years later. The good news for the Big Sioux River was that its falls were not totally destroyed. Both rivers provided power to burgeoning wheat milling districts and to power plants that eventually were controlled by Northern States Power (NSP) — now Excel Energy.
The river is 420 miles long. It was created through the melting of glaciers that once covered much of the Upper Midwest over 14,000 years ago. Below is a description of what happen between the glacier and the rock formations it impacted that later became known as Falls Park:
The following photos explain the regional human interaction with this area beginning with the “ancients”, progressing to those we now know as Native Americans and finishing with the European-American founding of Sioux Falls:
Walking the entire park took about hour. It was a nice break before heading across the vast South Dakota prairie. So if by chance you’re traveling west someday — take a gander and a brisk stroll in Falls Park.
Oh, and if you have an extra half hour drive through downtown Sioux Falls — it’s loaded with street art as is Falls Park.
This photo was taken behind a sculpture of a “farmer/thinker” — Rodin it ain’t but the art has fine quality: