Sunday, August 30, 2009
Visiting Pierre, SD -- The South Dakota Capitol
Pierre is the Capitol of South Dakota and offers a beautiful and historic capitol building and grounds. In addition to the Capitol, there are several memorials to South Dakota veterans. The Capitol building has been fully restored to its original beauty and is one of the best restored capitol buildings in the country.We traveled on SD Hwy 14 from Wall to Pierre, SD (pronounced "Pier") and had a good run, but with quite a bit of road construction. This sign, located on the banks of the Missouri River, tended to put things into perspective -- we traveled the 150 miles in about 3 hours -- it took 15 DAYS for the famous Ox Train to get to Deadwood from the steamboat stop right here in Pierre. WOW!
Located right next to the Ox Train sign is this memorial for John C. Waldron, whose name also appears on the bridge over the Missouri. Cmdr. Waldron was from Ft. Pierre, located just over the river from Pierre and was a Naval Aviator in WWII. He was the leader of the famed Torpedo 8 Squadron which fought at the Battle of Midway in WWII. This squadron flew old aircraft (all that was available in the early days of WWII) and was virtually wiped out in an attack on the Japanese fleet (only one pilot survived from the entire squadron). Their sacrifice forced the Japanese fighter craft down to sea level and cleared the way for US dive bombers which destroyed the Japanese aircraft carriers and allowed for the huge US victory.
Fittingly, we then visited the excellent WWII memorial on the Capitol grounds. This is very well worth a visit.
This fountain is at the top of the WWII memorial and is truly a "flaming fountain" as it actually burns! The water is from a well and apparently also contains methane which burns. You can really feel the heat and it is spectacular at night!
Here is the Capitol grounds. The WWII memorial is on the island at the left of the picture. This is a beautiful area for walking and exploring.
This is the magnificent Fighting Stallions Memorial bronze sculpture carved by Korczak Ziolkowski (also the carver of the Crazy Horse Mountain). This memorial is in tribute to eight South Dakotans, inlcuding Govenor George S. Mickelson, who died in an aircraft crash on April 19, 1993.