Jun 10, 2016

1880 Town in Western South Dakota

As a planner I have planned many towns, but my cousins in western South Dakota planned and developed an entire community.  Well done, cousins.

"Located 22 miles west of Murdo on I-90, 1880 Town is South Dakota’s attic. It’s not a crammed attic, though, thanks to its setting on the vast prairie. You gaze down Main Street to the horizon beyond, not to adjacent neighborhoods and tall fast food signs. Much of the stuff here is big: whole buildings hauled in from Quinn, Dixon, Tea, Gregory, Gettysburg, and countless other living or forgotten towns, including long-submerged Oahe Mission (under Lake Oahe)."

"So while the town site isn’t authentic to history, its structures are. That sets it apart from most other recreated Old West towns. You feel the authenticity in weathered wood textures, and you smell it. “These buildings stood through the big dust storms of the 1930s,” observes the town’s only year-round resident, Scott Key. “You’re probably still smelling some of that dust.”

“Visitors tell us they feel like they actually walked back in time,” says Richard Hullinger, the attraction’s co-owner. “They often add that they didn’t necessarily expect that when they stopped.”

"1880 Town didn’t originate with any grand vision of authenticity. In the early 1970s a movie production company made a deal with Murdo’s Clarence Hullinger. He would supply antiques for a western scheduled to be shot in South Dakota, and the company would build an Old West main street on Hullinger family property. In the end the movie shoot fell through, but an ersatz saloon and little shop were left behind as reminders of the project, standing within view of spanking new I-90."

"In Murdo people say plans for expanding the site, first called Two Strike after the historical Lakota leader, were sketched on re
staurant napkins. That’s because Clarence and his wife, Anna Marie, owned and operated the local Teepee restaurant. And anyone who knew Clarence could have predicted the town’s expansion wasn’t going to involve construction of phony buildings as long as there were antique structures plentiful across the prairie, standing abandoned on main streets, or relegated to second lives as ranch granaries. Clarence, his granddaughter Sally Cuny says, “always has some sort of antique to show you, along with documentation, whether it’s a gun, picture, or saddle.”

Click to read the full arcile in The South Dakota Magazine:


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