Near Salem in McCook County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Salem Rest Area
The eight pillars which thrust skyward here merge in the framework of a tipi, the Plains Indian home. The one-by-one and one-half foot concrete lodgepoles rise fifty-six feet in the air and weigh six-and-one-half tons each. The structures were executed in an architectural manner reflecting the spartan lifestyle of the nomadic Lakota (Sioux) Nation.
Beneath each tipi are several concrete isosceles triangles, a basic design of the Lakota Nation, set in a pattern to form a thunderbird, another traditional Indian symbol.
The building which houses the rest rooms and tourist information center is fashioned after the sod houses and dugouts which dotted the South Dakota prairie during pioneer days. Four miles north of here the town of Salem reflects the influence of the railroad in opening Dakota Territory to settlement.
Salem, named after the Massachusetts community, was platted in 1880 and for two years after was the most important railroad point between Sioux Falls and Mitchell. The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway reached Salem in the fall and winter of 1880-81, but the blizzard of 1881 prevented the lines immediate use. During the summer
In 1882 Salem, then called Melas, became the third county seat for McCook County in the space of four years, a status it has retained. Although the railroads no longer have the influence of years ago, communities such as Salem serve as reminders that railroads often led, rather than followed, settlement.
Location. 43° 39.955′ N, 97° 25.346′ W. Marker is near Salem, South Dakota, in McCook County. Marker is on Interstate 90, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Salem SD 57058, United States of America.
Categories. • Native Americans • Railroads & Streetcars • Roads & Vehicles • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 21, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 1,091 times since then and 93 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 21, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.