Daily Archives: September 23, 2015

South Dakota roots

The Minnaert farm

The Minnaert farm

Linda’s parents grew up on farms in Montrose and Madison, in eastern South Dakota.  Neither Greta nor I had ever been there before, so we decided to drop in to track down some Minnaert connections.  The Zimmer farm in Montrose doesn’t seem to be intact, but we visited the center of town where Greta’s grandfather grew up.

Driving up Valley Road to Madison, we went by the farm where Greta’s great-grandmother lived before moving to the current Minnaert farm in Madison in 1949.

In Madison we found Greta’s great-uncle Joe, who then took us over to the Minnaert family farm, where Greta’s grandmother and her 12 siblings were raised.  It is now farmed by Joe’s son Chris, who came in from the fields to meet us.  It was really fun meeting them both.

Greta has spent her whole life in the forests and hills of the northwest, and it was amazing to see where her family had come from, how different the environment and their lives are from ours.  She was also pleased to find out that she is related to people who have lots of cattle and pigs.

Downtown Montrose, the town where Greta's grandfather grew up

Downtown Montrose, the town where Greta’s grandfather grew up

The pub in Montrose, into which Linda and her sisters were sometimes dragged by their Uncle Harold

The pub in Montrose, into which Linda and her sisters were sometimes dragged by their Uncle Harold

Valley Road, near where Greta's great-grandmother came from

Valley Road, near where Greta’s great-grandmother came from

Greta's great-uncle Joe.

Greta with her great-uncle Joe

The farmhouse where Greta's grandmother lived, now unoccupied.

The farmhouse where Greta’s grandmother and great-grandmother lived, now unoccupied.

Linda's cousin Chris, who farms the two quarter-sections with his sons

Linda’s cousin Chris, who farms the two quarter-sections with his sons

Greta discivers her bovine relations

Greta meets her bovine relations

South Dakota weirdness, part 2

DSCF8539After Mt. Rushmore, Wall Drug and the Prairie Dog God, we wondered if there could be even more weirdness in western South Dakota.  Yes, there most definitely can.

We visited Delta-09, a Minuteman II silo, where we saw an actual nuclear missile.



It’s a weird place – a chain-link fence enclosure in the middle of the prairie, where they leave the gate open so you can enter and look into the silo.  There is a phone number you can call on your phone, and then punch in various numbers to get information about it.  We tried to do that, and couldn’t get it to work, and then realized we had just called an unknown phone number from a nuclear missile site, and the NSA now had our number, and ever since we’ve been seeing some suspicious vehicles in the rear-view mirror.

We quickly moved along to Mitchell SD, for a viewing of the Corn Palace.  It is undergoing one of its regular refurbishments, where new murals are made out of corncobs. DSCF8637

It was cool to see the underlying layout sketched out before the corncobs are added, as in this picture, which seems to be of Willie Nelson:


We were a little more perplexed by this mural, until we realized it was a portrait of Michael Jackson, an attempt by the Corn Place to appeal to a younger audience through an homage to a 30-year-old pop tune.


But that is only the beginning of the weirdness in Mitchell. Right across the street is “Valticoty”, a gift shop in a castle, with a “kids jungle playground” and a “walk-thru ancient bible world.”  When we were perplexed by the name, the owner, apparently an eastern-European fundamentalist, told us it was from the initial syllables of the names of the Three Wisemen.  We moved along quickly.


While the Corn Palace gets most of the attention, one should certainly not miss the Tire Palace


nor the Cone Palace:


We left the Twilight Zone and drove to the Twin Cities.