We arrived in Pierre, South Dakota Wednesday afternoon. Pierre is the capitol of our chosen domicile, South Dakota and a relatively small town with a population right around 14,000. Along with Pierre is the community of Fort Pierre, population 2,000. These communities are divided by the Missouri River which also serves as the dividing line between time zones. Pierre is in the Central time zone, Fort Pierre is in the Mountain time zone. I’m pretty sure that, if I lived here, I’d either be early or late pretty much all the time!
When I was in school, we pronounced Pierre, P-Air. I ended up marrying a French Canadian who says Pierre is pronounced P-Eye. Well, no one told the residents of South Dakota! They pronounce it Peer. So Peer it is :)
Pierre has an interesting history that dates back to 1743 when 2 French explorers buried a lead plate claiming the area for France. The site of that lead plate is commemorated on a hilltop high above Fort Pierre and dedicated to these explorers, Francois and Louis-Joseph Verendrye. Sixty years later, the Louisiana Purchase made this area part of the United States. In the meantime, the lead plate disappeared only to be discovered on this hill by a group of teenagers in 1913. It is now on display at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.
We drove up the hill to the Verendrye Site and marveled at the view! The surrounding town and countryside, the Missouri River, the state capitol across the river.
From there, we drove across the Missouri to the capitol building and the surrounding area. I’m very impressed with our chosen state’s Capitol and grounds. Beautifully appointed and landscaped.
Inscribed above the 4 columns in the front of the Capitol are the words “Sovth Dakota”.
Sovth Dakota? HUH? Did they make a mistake when they were carving? Actually no. South Dakota is spelled with a “V” on the State Capitol Building to represent the Neoclassical Revival architecture of the building. Pretty interesting. I bet they get that question a lot and good for them for not changing it to the “acceptable” version :)
We also took a drive out of town about 5 miles and fell in love with the Oahe Recreation Area. It’s a COE site managed by the SD State Park system. This would definitely be on our list of preferred places to stay the next time we are in this area! Particularly Campground #2. Loved the huge shade trees and the long back-in sites. Made me want to sit back and stay for awhile :)
Because we are just passing through this time we chose the easy-to-get-to Fishers Lilly Park in Fort Pierre that offered water and electric sites for $10 night. That’s a deal we found hard to pass up :) Hopefully this park will flourish again. It’s a very small city park (12 spaces) that, according to RV Park Reviews, was a wonderful, shaded park with basic sites right on the Bad River. In 2011, the river flooded and the entire campground was basically washed away. No more shade trees. No more grass. Sad. They are trying to re-establish it. I hope they are successful because there are not many campgrounds in this part of the state and it’s a great overnight destination.
The campground is adjacent to the park, which also suffered some damage but is doing quite well now. There’s playground equipment for the kids, a sheltered picnic area and a walking bridge across the Bad River. It’s a very pretty little park and it was here, in 1804, that Lewis and Clark first made contact with the Teton Sioux. The first US flag to fly over present day South Dakota was also flown at this site. It was a pleasant surprise that this area turned out to be more historical than we had anticipated.
We enjoyed our stop in Pierre but it is time to move on. Tomorrow we will travel to Hazelton Recreation COE Park in North Dakota. We are still moving north, still searching for cooler weather :)
Thanks for stopping by.