Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 2: Pilgrimage to Buffalo Ridge, SD

Had a wonderful experience at the Buffalo Ridge General Store and 1880 Cowboy Town this time around... We marveled at the spot a year ago when we first stopped in. Roadside America (my online travel bible) gives an apt description of the place here. (Watch the movie clips, too.)

Since our initial visit, I've spent a lot of time contemplating 1880 Cowboy Town, trying to figure out its "spin"—the why and how of its existence. The attraction is a minor obsession of mine, and inspired several print projects last year. What can I say? I'm a big fan of all the hand lettering. And, of course, the decay.

During our latest visit, I had the pleasure of talking at length with Dean, the octogenarian owner, and his son Brad. We must have been there for at least two hours. While J. browsed the fireworks selection (their main business—though you can buy buffalo meat and overstock from the seventies, too), I listened to Dean espouse on history, religion, politics, personal philosophy, his family, travels, and more. And yes, he’s been to Disneyland.

As it turns out, Cowboy Town is more than a tourist gimmick. Dean is a former South Dakota History Teacher of the Year—1990 or 1991. (And very modest about it, too.) He’s an educator at heart, and wrote all the text for the town's displays. He's also a big fan of Lincoln, and wants to add a log chapel with information on Lincoln's progressive religious views. He hopes to have his ashes scattered there someday. I like to think we’ll make it back for another visit before then...


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