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Thursday, August 10, 2006

2006 Vacation: Day 2 Summary

Day 2 Summary
Bismarck, North Dakota to Dickinson, North Dakota
Monday, July 17, 2006

There is some amazing scenery to see along the way from Bismarck to Dickinson, particularly if you stay off of the interstate and use the remnants of the former U.S. Highway 10. It’s probably best to experience traveling through this area by beginning in Bismarck and proceeding west to Dickinson, as there is such an abrupt change in landscape once you proceed west of the Missouri River. For me, it’s always when I get just outside of Mandan that I can easily see that I have left the Midwest and have entered the West.

The first real stop on day 2 of my vacation involved searching for a geocache along the western bank of the Missouri River at some sort of recreation area in Mandan. Luckily, since I found what I was looking for rather easily, I got to take in some time to enjoy the slowly meandering water of the Missouri.

From there, it was time to get on the former highway to continue heading west. What was once highway 10 has largely been turned into county roads in North Dakota. Though there are a few places between Bismarck and Dickinson where the road is unpaved, for the most part, you’ll find the road paved and still in pretty good shape. Expectedly, traffic on the old highway is very light; the only people who really have any need to use the road are those who live along it.

Whether you use the Interstate or the old highway, New Salem is the first city you’ll encounter west of Mandan. You may recall how I visited here last October and how much I loved the view from the top of the hill that features New Salem’s most famous resident: Salem Sue. She is a 38 foot tall fiberglass Holstein that is visible along Interstate 94 for miles.

Just like in October, I made sure to go up to the top of School Hill to visit Sue. And just like in October, the view from the top was excellent. Even though the scenery hadn’t changed in the short amount of time since I had last visited, I still really liked it up on top of the hill that Sue calls home.

I don’t know if it was there back in October (since I didn’t take the time to look it up back then), but there was actually a geocache very cleverly hidden inside some of the many rocks on top of the hill. I’m glad that somebody was able to hide a cache there, since it likely brings in a lot of people who might not have otherwise stopped in New Salem to enjoy the view.

There aren’t too many other tourist attractions west of New Salem. Out that way, it’s mostly just one small town after another. Those towns have some very beautiful scenery as a backdrop, however. By the time you get to Hebron, rocky buttes begin to appear in the countryside off in the horizon.

Just off on the interstate near Gladstone is the exit to what’s known as the "enchanted highway." A local teacher-turned-metal-sculpture-artist has decorated a 32-mile stretch of highway with a varied array of both small and large metal exhibits.

As a bit of a teaser to encourage people to exit the interstate and travel along the "enchanted highway" to its terminus in Regent, a very large metal sculpture featuring geese in flight has been placed on top of the hill that overlooks the Interstate 94 exit into the city of Gladstone. As in New Salem, there is a road leading up to the top of the hill and to the object that can quite readily be seen by Interstate travelers from miles around.

Also as in New Salem, somebody has cleverly hidden a geocache at the site. Of course, I went to work rather quickly trying to look for it, and, after a short while of searching, I found what I was looking for hidden within the scrap metal used to construct the sculpture.

Before leaving the entrance to the "enchanted highway," I also made sure to take in what was another outstanding view of the buttes and many wheat fields in the western portion of North Dakota.

From Gladstone, it was a short drive – once again on the former highway – into Dickinson, the resting place for day 2 of my vacation.


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Bismarck and Mandan are home to the only railroad bridge in North Dakota that crosses the Missouri River

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A static exhibit at a Bismarck park along the Missouri River is the Yellowstone Riverboat

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A view of the Missouri River just north of Mandan

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Here's a view of the old highway a few miles west of Mandan

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Here's another view of the old highway a few miles east of New Salem

The following six photos are views from from the top of Salem Sue's hill
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I like how you can see the dirt road going up and down over the gentle hills in this picture

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There's Salem Sue

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The old highway goes up and down over and over again between New Salem and Glen Ullin

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There are likely more cows than people in the part of North Dakota between New Salem and Glen Ullin

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Buttes start appearing off to the distance right near Glen Ullin and Hebron

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The city of Glen Ullin can be seen way off in the distance in this picture

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From this distance, the butte near Glen Ullin fits perfectly into the middle portion of a railroad bridge that goes over the old highway

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Downtown Hebron (HEE-bren)

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Hebron is known as "The Brick City" because the city has been home to a prominant brick manufacturer, Hebron Brick, for over 100 years

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A picturesque abandoned farmstead lies to the east of Richardton

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The pretty purple flowers were growing all over the side of the road west of Hebron

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A typical street scene in downtown Richardtown - the town was pretty quiet and empty

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This is the "Geese in Flight" sculpture that can be seen for miles along Interstate 94 near Gladstone

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To keep with the geese theme, these small metal geese line the roadway leading up to the big sculpture

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A typical western North Dakota wheat field can be seen from the "Geese in Flight" sculpture

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Another view from the sculpture

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An up-close picture of the sculpture

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Here's a shot of Interstate 94 a few miles east of Dickinson - Right after I took this photo I got a honk and a wave from the guy hauling the two campers on the left

The following three photos are of trains on the tracks near the "Geese in Flight" sculpture
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Out of the three photos, this one is my favorite; I like how the tiny three-car train contrasts wth the wide, expansive landscape it is moving through

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View from Salem Sue


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Mitch's Blog began on December 23, 2001