Sioux City, IA--A Necropolis
It isn't really. It only seems like it.
I drove down to Sioux City for Thanksgiving to visit my Army captain son, who lives at Dakota Dunes, an Arnold Palmer-designed course in the very southeastern tip of South Dakota where it butts up against both Iowa and Nebraska. Just across the border is Sioux City, Iowa. I term this sleepy Missouri River town a necropolis because its historic sites often have something to do with dead folks.
Most famous, of course, is the Sergeant Floyd monument. Floyd, the only member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to die during their two-year trek, was also the first U.S. soldier to die west of the Mississippi. The poor guy kept having to be buried: first when he died 20 Aug. 1804, of course. Two years later on the expedition's return, they found his gravesite had been disturbed, so buried him a second time; again in 1857, when the bluff he'd been planted in washed away; and finally (I hope) 20 Aug. 1895, with a big marble slab on top, and an obelisk on top of that. I guess you can't keep a good man down.
Then I happened to notice the First Bride's Grave monument. This was built in 1938 by the Woodbury County Pioneer Club near the grave of Rosalie Menard Leonais. The Pioneer Club called her the "first bride" because she was believed to be the first bride of a non-Native American in the area.
In 1918, during remodeling, the Hedges Block collapsed on workers, storekeepers and shoppers, killing 39. The contractors were trying to lower the first floor to ground level...and succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.
Then there were floods. The Floyd River (maybe the ol' sarge was mad) killed folks in 1892, and again in 1953.
In 1949, the Swift and Co. building exploded from a natural gas leak at 11:33 a.m., Dec. 14. Twenty-one died from that.
The city keeps bouncing back, though. They're remodeling (oh, oh) the area where the stockyards were; the aroma of money still wafts through the nearby streets when the breeze is in the right direction. There are new restaurants downtown.
Corn palaces (what else, in Iowa?) that predate the one in Mitchell, S.D., the Missouri River flowing through ("too thick to drink, too thin to plow") with casinos lining its bank, South Dakota and Nebraska buttin' up against it. Meatpacker John Morrell still maintains a strong presence making BBQ, and the local convention center is named after Tyson of chicken fame.
As for family doings, we deep-fried a turkey outdoors on Thanksgiving Day, which in the upper midwest is a Thanksgiving miracle in itself.