Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Sioux Falls Courthouse Museum

It was a cool, windy day today and we decided to do some exploring in Sioux Falls. First, we stopped by the actual Falls which is very close to Main Street. The flow over the falls seemed about normal now and was much lower than a few weeks ago as you can see here:

You can see that there is much more water coming over the falls in this shot -- about 5 weeks ago.

Located a short ways from the Falls, is the Courthouse Museum. This was the actual Courthouse for Sioux Falls for about 70 years and was built in about 1890. Notice the rock used in the walls -- this was quarried from the Falls area, as were many of the buildings in this area.

As we walking toward the entrance of the Courthouse, we saw this interesting plaque. Apparently, Thomas Egan was convicted of murdering his wife and hanged, although he protested his innocence. Some 45 years later, his step daughter confessed on her deathbed to killing her mother in a rage and framing Egan. Interestingly, when Egan was hung, it took three times for the hangman to get it right. The first time, the rope broke, the second, a Deputy got in the way, but finally they succeeded in hanging an innocent man.

There are many interesting displays inside the museum that are changed periodically. Naturally, the impact of corn on the area has been profound and we learned that corn shucking contests were very big in the late 1930's. In fact, in 1938, 130,000 people came to watch the "World Series" of Corn husking at a farm just outside of Sioux Falls. Note the hat advertising this event in the photo above.

We also enjoyed the "underwear" display! Orinda is showing all the women's under garments that she is very glad she does not have to wear! There were hoop skirts, corsets and all kinds of items that Rick thought looked like torture.

We also liked the display on the Drive-ins of Sioux Falls. In the 1960's there were many of these in the area -- must have been like American Graffiti!

Look closely at the tree next to Orinda. Notice the steel I-beam that is THROUGH the tree! This beam came from a bridge in Sioux Falls that was destroyed by a strong tornado and while airborne, flew through the tree! WOW!

Finally, most folks likely do not know that the birth of the modern hot air balloon occurred in Sioux Falls at Raven Industries. This display was quite fitting and interesting as it showed the development of the hot air balloon in the 60's and the great improvements since then. Rick and Orinda are ready to go!

This free museum is well worth a stop when you are in the Sioux Falls area.