Thursday, August 14, 2008

Only in America!

I love this country and admire creativity in all forms. Today we rolled into Mitchell, SD, which is home to the world famous Corn Palace. In 1892, the city fathers wanted to put Mitchell on the map and showcase all the crops that grow so gloriously in the area. With true American ingenuity, they decided to erect a wooden palace and cover it with corn. Their idea was such a success that the Corn Palace currently attracts a half million visitors annually.

This is the original Corn Palace from 1892.

The one today is actually the third version of this brainstorm. The second was built in 1905 and, like the original, was made entirely of wood with dirt floors. The current building was built in 1921 and, for safety reasons, is made of steel and brick.

You probably noticed this picture has conflicting years. The Corn Palace exterior is completely redecorated annually with a new theme. In early summer, all the grasses and grains are removed from the building and replaced in new geometric designs. Three thousand bushels of milo, rye, oat heads and sour dock (whatever that is) are tied into bundles and nailed to the building. This has already been done, but the new murals have to wait for the corn harvest.

Last year's theme was 'Everyday Heroes' and the murals on the front of the building reflect that. However the murals on the side of the building (I believe there are seven) have been stripped. You can see the first one on the right side of the picture.

The new scenes are drawn on black roofing paper and marked as to which of the eleven different colors of corn goes where. It's like a large 'paint-by-number.' (In the brochure, it said corn-by-number, but that was a little too corny even for me. . . or maybe not.)

This year's theme seems to be landmarks since this is clearly Crazy Horse. I also saw the Jefferson and Washington monuments, the St. Louis arch, and, I think, the Golden Gate bridge. In late summer, about 275,000 ears of corn are sawed in half lengthwise and nailed into place.

Here's a closer look at one of the 2008 murals.

You can see some of the corn is not looking its best. Which leads me to the Corn Palace's nickname of the largest bird feeder in the world.

Inside the building are pictures of the palace in prior years and some more incredible murals. These were my favorites.

We are parked at Cabela's - a wonderful sporting goods chain that allows overnight RV parking and provides a giant parking lot specifically for RVs. When we returned from our sightseeing, we found another RV had joined us.

This belongs in Brenda's book of 'What were they thinking?' Not only did they park right next to us (with a whole parking lot available), but they then ran their generator for hours! We ended up moving.

But I did finally see a moose! Unfortunately it was a bit stuffed.


  1. Enjoying your great travel log. Guess those folks in the RV thought you looked like a safe neighbor. I'm looking for the rams here in Nathrop.

  2. You are getting close to me, but I guess I'll be gone before you get to Rapid City. Have fun here. The weather has been great!!

  3. Wow! Very cool. I don't know how I've managed to miss this, but now I really want to go.

  4. Thanks for the memories. Your travels are great for this brain that has a tendency to forget things.

    Love Cabela's.... Regarding the RV parking right next to you. Reminds me of parking in BLM land in Arizona. I was the only rig within a quarter mile. An RV pulled in and parked less than 50 feet away. Apparently they felt safer. I didn't. I moved the next day.

  5. I love Mitchell. But then my grandkids live there.