Monday, June 12, 2017

Pierre, South Dakota

We moved south to Pierre (Pier), South Dakota. Who knew that was the way it's pronounced! Pierre is the second smallest state capital city. We continue to use two lane roads when possible and for the drive from Bismarck they were the only choice. We had a head wind most of the way so it was not a fun drive but once again there was very little traffic.
  Before we were out of North Dakota we passed the Lawrence Welk birthplace in Strasburg. We opted to not stop as it was two miles up a dirt road and we were not sure about parking for Opus. While Welk is a bit before our time, we both remember our parents watching his show every week. 
The capitol was built between 1905 and 1910 in the Greek, Roman and Celtic styles with a central dome. It was designed by the same architects who did the Montana capitol and is a modified version of that building. It was built with native field stone, Indiana limestone and Vermont and Italian marble.
The interior dome is 96 feet above the rotunda floor. It is another 65 feet from the top of this dome to the top of the copper, outer dome.  
In the four corners of the rotunda are statues that represent Integrity, Courage, Wisdom and Vision. The background is the terrazzo floor that was repaired a few years ago. During the repair each worker was given a heart to place in the floor as their signature for the work they had done.
The Great Seal of South Dakota showing industry, farming and transportation. The Black Hills, the Missouri River and the Great Plains show the main geographic features of the state.
Off the rotunda are two corridors where the Supreme Court, Governor's office and other official rooms are located.. The Supreme Court has not been open to the public since 9-11. The columns are scagliola, made-made marble that we have seen used in many capitols, because it is light weight and less expensive than real marble. These columns are hollow with structural steel beams inside. 
Above the doors in the corridors are paintings with scenes of the state's history and geography. The background is the terrazzo floor. When the capitol was built, 66 Italian artists were hired to hand lay the tiles. Each was given a blue stone as their signature stone to be placed wherever they chose. Only 55 of these stones have been found.
The Governor's Reception Room has been restored to its original 1910 appearance with the first governor's desk and furniture. The walls are now plain because the original mural, inserted here, with the woman placing her foot on the Native American on the ground, is offensive to the Native American population.
The Senate chamber. There are 35 Senators who serve two-year terms. Both houses meet every year for a session lasting from 35 to 40 days. The chamber, which has been restored to its original appearance, is decorated in green tones, scagliola columns, Vermont granite, cherry wood and African mahogany.
The House of Representatives Chamber. The House has 70 members who are elected and serve the same terms as the Senate. No member is allowed to serve more than four consecutive terms in each house. They can serve as many non-consecutive terms as they want. The chamber, which was restored in the 1980's, is decorated in earth-tone colors, decorative plaster and oak.   
The Grand Staircase is Vermont Whitecloud Marble. As you can see, it is still used in important processionals for special guests. The vaulted ceiling is leaded stained glass. The painting. The Advent of Commerce, shows early Europeans trading with Native Americans. It is a bit of arrogance to presume that there was no trade before white men arrived.
This display shows replicas of the gowns worn to the Inaugural Balls by the First Ladies of every governor. There is also a bit of information about each.
We walked in on the dedication of this new display the Hall of Honor. It is dedicated to those South Dakota residents who have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award. The Hall of Honor had been located on the second floor of the Soldiers and Sailors Building. Moving it here makes it  more visible and accessible. 
The grounds of the capitol were especially beautiful. The Fighting Stallions Memorial honors the lives of eight men, including Governor George S. Mickelson who were killed on April 19, 1993 in the crash of a state aircraft.
The WWII Memorial pays tribute to the 65,000 South Dakotans who served in that war. The six statues represent the different roles the people of the state played.
The Flaming Fountain is part of the WWI and WWII memorials. The wall and the two soldiers honor those who fought in Korean and Vietnam wars. 
This memorial honors fallen Firefighters, Law Enforcement and Emergency Medical Technicians who lost their lives in the line of duty. This is the first such memorial that we have seen that honors EMTs.
We stayed at Fischer Lilly Park across the Missouri River from Pierre in Fort Pierre. It is a great little community campground with water and electric hook-ups on the bank of the river. 
We saw on the map that we were near the Buffalo Interpretive Center so we drove out to see more buffalo. We found the center was boarded up and the only buffalo were far from the road. The drive was through land that had been eroded into hills by the Missouri so it was neat even if we did not get a good look at the buffalo.
On a bluff overlooking Fort Pierre and the Missouri River is the Verendrye Site. French explorers Francois and Louis-Joseph Verendrye buried a lead plaque here on March 31,1743 claiming the land, that later became the Louisiana Purchase, for France. In 1913 local teens found the plate and tried to sell it to the print shop. Fortunately, the state historian heard about the plate and saved it before it was melted down by the printer. The plate verified that the French were the first Europeans to explore this area.  
The first school house in Pierre dates back to before South Dakota was a state.
The dome of the capitol looking across the Missouri from Fort Pierre. There is a community RV park in Pierre, but we liked the one we stayed in better for both location and the fact we had water.
At this site, where the Bad River flows into the Missouri, Lewis and Clark made peaceful contact with the Teton Sioux. They were here from September 23 - 28, 1804. This spot is less than a half mile from where the Verendryes claimed this land for France over sixty years before. 
We found the Pierre area a neat place to visit. Seeing the capitol so soon after seeing Montana's that was designed by the same architect was interesting.

2 comments:

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Nice post. WE have lots of stories about Pierre as we spent a lot of time there fishing for walleyes and salmon.

heyduke50 said...

we haven't done that one yet...