“Sharpe As a Whip!”
Merrell Sharpe was governor of South Dakota at the time of my birth. Not to get political (not even sure if he was a Republican or Democrat), but he was instrumental in getting the COE (Army Corps of Engineers) to build Big Bend Dam. We are thankful!
Traveling along i90 in South Dakota, it was a flat and monotonous drive. Well, the eastern half of the state was. When we got into Chamberlain, there was a beautiful rest area. It was a stop in of itself. The views over the Missouri River are just spectacular and then the history! Inside the facility the history of the Lewis & Clark expedition through the region is extremely informative. And the statue of Ms. Dignity! If you are traveling though South Dakota, STOP and see this (it is accessible from the east or west).
Dignity Big Bend Dam
COE campsites are available at Fort Thompson. Getting off at exit 248, we went up 47 to Big Bend Dam, but it is just as easy (and more scenic) coming from exit 261 and going up 50. Route 47 gives you a view of the prairie and route 50 more of the river. Speaking of prairie, “Little House on the Prairie” story took place here in South Dakota. And the landscape is depicted well in the TV drama series.
COE has 3 campsite areas here and 2 are free. The pay one is $18 a night and gives you electricity. They also have access to other amenities. The book says no reservations but …don’t believe everything you read. 88 sites, and all were taken! They asked if we had reservations (apparently you CAN reserve). So, off to the North Shore area where camping is free. These sites are very nice but complete boondocking. Views and wildlife are awesome and very little traffic. And even though the pay campground was full, we were the only one in this 24-site campground.
camper in Lake Sharpe COE
Our first night was quite eventful. It was a hot day so evening thunderstorms rolled through. Was a little nervous since there were severe storm warnings but the real bad ones with wind and hail passed to our north and south. What a light show though! And rain… came down in buckets…VERY BIG BUCKETS! And then about 2am …”UHHH! WATER!” We had sprung a leak…and right on top of Deb’s head. Not much water but that nights rest was for naught. Plans for the next day of relaxation had changed. I need to find that leak!
The second night included storms as well. Thanks to a cooler day, they weren’t as bad. And I had done a temporary fix on the leaks. Better rest …a rather short drive today to Wall, South Dakota (Think Wall Drug)
(Top) farms are large; Louis & Clark exp. 1804; (bottom) bridge over the Missouri; campground at Ft Thompson; bench at Lake Sharpe; strange object in field.
When it comes to free stays, do I know how to pick ‘em?! (sarcasm). As my wife said, existing in a tin can makes you view the environment with a totally new set of “eyes”.
…On To YELLOWSTONE !
STAY TUNED! More “tales from the campah”! Coming soon.
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