After 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.
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.