Steve's random ramblings and technical notes

Friday, February 03, 2006 Best Places: Union County, South Dakota Best Places: #2 - Union County, South Dakota

When God made Union County, he must have had the artistic one-third/two-thirds rule in mind. About a third of the county is bottomland, formed by the Missouri and the Big Sioux rivers that border it. The fertile land is ideal for corn and soybeans, and that's what you see as you drive through it: flat fields with river bluffs on the far horizon. That, and grain elevators and farm towns that wait patiently for the crop's bounty to flow in.

The other two-thirds of Union County is hilly. Row crops cling to the gentler slopes and lie in the valleys while cattle graze the steeper hillsides. This is the rock-solid Midwest. It's where Norwegian-American author Ole Edvart Rolvaag was inspired to write 'Giants in the Earth,' a book about hard times on the frontier. Those times have gone, but the hard work and patience the pioneers inspired have made Union County prosperous. Its schools are good, its towns neat and its people friendly.

Interstate 29 is the major artery that brings people and commerce to the county. It runs between Sioux Falls to the north and Sioux City, Iowa, to the south. In that southern tip of the county, computer manufacturing and other light industry have brought white-collar income. These industries helped create the planned community of Dakota Dunes with its golf course, medical center and shops.

The rest of the county is rural: small towns, farmsteads and wide-open spaces. It's the kind of place where rural churches sit placidly by the road, their white steeples peeking over the windbreak trees that shelter them. It's where an old-fashioned soda fountain--Edgar's in Elk Point--is one of the county's major tourist attractions.
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