South Dakota is a state of contrasts. Those of us who grew up here talk about West River and East River South Dakota. The state is divided from north to south by the Missouri River. The area east of the river is rich farm land, softly rolling hills, fertile valleys and flat windswept prairie with a horizon that seems to go on forever. At the most eastern edge of the state, Big Stone Lake meets Lake Traverse at the Continental Divide. The water from Big Stone Lake flows south to join the Mississippi River as it winds its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Traverse flows northward into Hudson Bay in Canada. West of the river, the terrain changes dramatically. At first, the land is dotted with grazing cattle, sunflower fields and ranches. Further west it changes into the Badlands, barren, eroded, almost desert-like terrain with stark rock formations and flat topped buttes. This area is best viewed at dawn or dusk when the striations in the rock are at their most colorful. Furthest west is the Black Hills with the iconic Mount Rushmore and the evolving sculpture of Crazy Horse just beginning to take shape on the mountain.
Of course, South Dakota wasn’t always as it is now. Once, millions of years ago, it was a shallow inland sea. Shark’s teeth and fossils of sea Dinosaurs roamed the western reaches of the state leaving behind fossils of Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex. Throughout the state, the Mammoth were abundant. One of the oldest mammals, the pronghorn antelope, still lives on the plains of western South Dakota. Great lumbering glaciers carved out the valleys of eastern South Dakota leaving behind lakes and hills. Eventually the great, vast plains emerged along with the buffalo and the Native American tribes who depended on them for survival. As homesteaders in covered wagons spread across the state in the late 1800’s, the prairie was plowed into farms and the Native Americans were forced onto reservations.shells are still found in granite quarries today.
Today, most of the population lives East River. Sioux Falls is the largest city in the state. Rapid City, at the foot of the Black Hills, is the second largest city. In between, the number of farms is dwindling and Some say that the stark, flat land of South Dakota is an acquired taste. If so, then I have acquired it for I love the wide open spaces and endless blue skies of South Dakota.abandoned houses and barns dot the landscape.
I write historical fiction for teens and young adults. As a physician with a lifelong interest in the history of medicine, I have enriched each book with medical themes. Whether the heroine is delivering a baby in an 1886 farmhouse with Big Stone Heart or is tending to gunshot wounds in a blacksmith's cabin in 1883in The Secret Society of Sugar and Spice, the dash of medicine adds a unique touch to all of my books. My third book, The Baby Farm, Book II of the Secret Society of Sugar and Spice, is scheduled for release in October. All of my books are available at amazon.com, barnes&noble.com and whiskeycreekpress.com.
Visit my website: http://www.caroljlarson.com for information on all my work and thanks for visiting my wonderful state.
(Pictures provided by author)