Big Sioux Falls

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Sioux Falls was named for the Sioux Indians and the waterfalls of the Big Sioux River. It is this captivating triple waterfall that drew us to Falls Park in downtown Sioux Falls yesterday. An average of 7,400 gallons of water drop 100 feet over the course of the falls each second. The falls are gorgeous. They are breathtaking. And they are in the middle of a town that sits on a broad expanse of flat land, otherwise known as the Great Plains.

A flour mill known as the Queen Bee Mill once stood near the banks of the Big Sioux River near the falls. Construction began on the seven-story structure in 1879. The mill was built of pink quartzite quarried on site. The region’s distinctive pink stone can be seen all around the park today. The Queen Bee was destroyed by fire in January of 1956, and never rebuilt. In 1961, the walls of the gutted flour mill were knocked down, and the current owner donated the site to the city of Sioux Falls in 1963.

The entire city of Sioux Falls basically sits on a huge deposit of pink quartzite. Even the roads and interstates in the area take on a pinkish hue. Asphalt used to pave roads is a combination of asphalt and aggregate. The asphalt acts as a binder for the aggregate. The color of the mixture varies by region. Gray is the primary color, but the roads in parts of Iowa and South Dakota are a distinctive shade of reddish-pink.

After our visit to Falls Park, we had lunch in town, and then returned to Big Sioux. We rode our bikes for about five miles, both on the paved roads and the bike trials that meander along the river. The Big Sioux’s water level did not appear to have dropped any while we were away, and part of the hiking trail was still underwater.

Saturday morning dawned clear, and we were treated to a mini hot air balloon festival as three colorful hot air balloons sailed over the park in rapid succession. Harry barely had time to grab our camera and snap pictures of the trio before they had disappeared from sight.

After spending two nights at Big Sioux, we still had about forty gallons of water left in our fresh water tank. I did three loads of laundry while we were there, plus I washed dishes several times. The washer/dryer averages 9-16 gallons per load, depending on the type of cycle selected, so that’s where the vast majority of our water went. Each of the tanks has sensors that measure the water level in the tank. We have a panel inside our motorhome that allows us to monitor the tank levels. When we left Big Sioux, our black tank registered E. The level will read E until it reaches 1/3, so E is a little misleading. The rear gray tank (shower and sink wastewater) measured 1/3, and the gray tank for the washer/dryer measured 2/3. Not bad, considering we did not make a conscious effort to conserve water during our two-day stay.

Let’s hope we do as well when we go off the grid.

Falls 4Falls qFalls2Falls3

Pink Quartzite
Pink Quartzite
Queen Bee
All that remains of the Queen Bee
Queen Bee 2
The Queen Bee during her glory days



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