15 July 2004
Verily, upon the cusp
North Sioux City, South Dakota 3334.1 miles
This means, of course, that I've been in South Dakota all day, and of course I have tales to tell.
Last night I was in Pierre, a pleasant-enough town on one side of the Missouri River, in the Central time zone. This morning's first few miles brought me to Fort Pierre, a pleasant-enough town on the other side of the Missouri River, in the Mountain time zone.
And one of the more interesting stories about this area that does not relate in any way to Lewis and Clark comes from Fort Pierre. Back in 1743, two brothers, Chevalier and Louis la Verendrye, chatted up the natives and informed them of their desire to commemorate the event by burying a lead tablet containing the details of their meeting. The natives couldn't read French, so they had no way of knowing that the Verendrye brothers were actually claiming the area in the name of Louis XV of France, and indeed this area was included in the Louisiana Purchase, the deal between the French and the nascent United States sixty years later.
In 1913, the plate was dug up, apparently quite accidentally, by local students; it's now in the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center across the river in Pierre. A small monument to the Verendryes stands on the hill overlooking Fort Pierre where the plate had been buried; French diplomacy, you may be assured, continues in the same tradition.
I was somewhat put off by the discovery that interspersed among the Wall Drug signs by the roadside were signs advertising the Wall Drug Web site. Somehow it's not the same, unless they've figured out how to make ice water downloadable.
On the subject of radio advertising, I note with some bemusement that Tom Daschle's political spots are paid for by "A Lot of People Supporting Tom Daschle Committee," which, while very probably true, sounds even sillier than it looks.