Sunday, November 22, 2015

Taking a Sunday Drive #3

By 2007 Bud and I had been to every state west of the Mississippi (many of them several times) except one - North Dakota. It was going to take a dedicated trip to cross that state off our list. I would like to see Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota some day, but on this short trip there wasn't time to go that far.
I was looking for a destination just across the state line - something in Southeastern North Dakota - and found it in the Sheyenne* River Valley National Scenic Byway.....
.....North Dakota's first nationally recognized scenic byway, it stretches from Lisbon on the southeast to Lake Ashtabula north of Valley City.
"City of Bridges" or Valley City, would be our base with day trips from there. We tried to see all the bridges of the town. This one, the VCSU Footbridge was the prettiest. It connects the downtown area with the campus of Valley City State University.
Near our hotel was Medicine Wheel Park which overlooks Valley City. The Medicine Wheel began as a VCSU student project but soon expanded to include the entire community. The 30-acre park also includes twelve Native American burial mounds, nature trails and scenic overlooks.
The scenic byway south of Valley City follows the Sheyenne River down through the valley. Here, as you come around a bend you can see the name of the town, Kathryn, spelled out on the hillside in the distance. The quaint little town's main street looks like something forgotten by time.

Leaving Kathryn you cross the Sheyenne River and on the left is the Walker Dam.

A little further South is Wadeson Park Historic Site, location of the Jensen Cabin built in 1878 by Norwegian immigrant Carl Bjerke Jensen.
Preston Church is about the only remaining structure in the former community of Preston.
Standing Rock State Historic Site is a Sioux Indian sacred burial area of four mounds dating to the Woodland Period (A.D. 0-1400). The road up to the site is steep and more a lane or trail than a road. It overlooks the Sheyenne River. The entire scenic byway was beautiful and interesting, but this was probably my favorite stop.

While we were staying in Valley City, we heard that a white buffalo calf had been born at the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown about thirty miles west. (A white buffalo is sacred to most Plains Indian tribes and seen as a sign of peace, prosperity, hope and/or change.)
We drove over there to view the museum's buffalo herd with high hopes of spotting the calf and her albino mother, White Cloud. Unfortunately they were somewhere in the shade of the trees and we shared our disappointment with the other tourists there that day.

For a short trip planned exclusively in order to cross another state off our list, this one turned out to be most enjoyable. I wouldn't mind going back to the Sheyenne River Valley again - maybe on our way to Theodore Roosevelt National Park?

*The Sheyenne River was named after the Cheyenne Indians, but so far I haven't found a reason for the difference in spellings.

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