May is Archeology and Historic Preservation Month; Bowdle Water Town story wins 3rd place in state essay contest

May is Archeology and Historic Preservation Month in South Dakota.

Historic Preservation Month has been celebrated in South Dakota since its nationwide inception in 1973. The state added archeology in 2005 to recognize it as a partner in historic preservation.

“South Dakota’s cultural heritage is rich and diverse, represented by thousands of archaeological and historic sites, historic buildings and landscapes that have been identified and recorded throughout the state,” said Ted M. Spencer, of the South Dakota State Historic Preservation. “Public appreciation and understanding is the foundation of preserving South Dakota’s past for future generations.”

The 2022 theme for the month is “Looking Local – History Where You Are”. The South Dakota Office of Historic Preservation wants to encourage South Dakotans to research and learn more about their area’s history.

The State Historical Society would like to know your favorite historic site in South Dakota, which will be shared on the society’s Historic Preservation Facebook page. Email [email protected] or tag your own Facebook post using @southdakotashpo.

Once again, the State Historical Society sponsored a statewide essay contest for all fourth graders, the year South Dakota history is often taught. The goal was to allow students to better appreciate their historical resources, the stories they tell and why they should be cared for.

Students were asked to write a 100-400 word essay based on the prompt “This Place Matters”. They were asked to write about any place in South Dakota that is at least 50 years old, why it is a favorite place for them, and why it should be saved. It didn’t have to be an existing historic site. Entries were judged on quality of writing, content and theme, and originality of thought. There were 118 entries, from 12 different cities and 11 different schools across the state.

The first place winner was Jack Hern of Rapid Valley Elementary in Rapid City. Jack’s essay was titled “The Spokane Mine and the Ghost Town” and was about the Spokane Gold Mine near Custer State Park. He won a cash prize of $100 and a one-year family membership in the South Dakota State Historical Society worth $55.

1st Place Winner: Jack Hern of Rapid Valley Elementary in Rapid City
“Spokane Mine and Ghost Town”
Spokane Mine near Custer State Park
Can you imagine going to see abandoned houses? Have you ever been to a ghost town? Spokane is an 1890 mine and ghost town located 16 miles from Custer State Park. When you get there you go down a forest service road. When you get to the bottom you will feel the cool breeze on your skin and you will see all kinds of trees all around you. You will also see a lot of abandoned buildings. These buildings are part of what is called a ghost town. Ghost towns are places that no longer have anyone to take care of them. They are where people used to live. You will see tall grass and you will see lots of old cars. You will also see all kinds of animals, such as horses and cows. It is cold there and it is a good time to spend the day in the summer when you can enjoy the coolness. Spokane is a place to explore old buildings and large holes in the ground that remain from their days of mining gold and silver. In 1908 a miner died, in a dispute over gold and silver, and this man is buried with a beautiful headstone and lots of things like coins.
I think this place is important because it was the first ghost town I went to when I was eight. This place is important because it was the place where I could play ball with my dog. I was also able to hang out there with my friends when we went to see the old houses and take pictures. Spokane is important because people learn about Spokane’s history and what they had back then, such as what they used to make homes, beds, food, and more. They had to build their houses by hand. They had tools and they had dynamite, pickaxes and shovels.
I think Spokane should be preserved because people can learn more about Spokane’s history. Currently the buildings are collapsing and it is not safe to be there. You can hurt yourself if you fall into a hole because the holes are deep. There is old glass and metal that is 120 years old. If you like ghost towns, you should go to Spokane.

Liv Knopp, also of Rapid Valley Elementary in Rapid City, took second place. Its title was “The Library of Learning” and was written about the Rapid City Public Library. She won a $75 cash prize and a one-year family membership in the State Historical Society.

2nd Place Winner: Liv Knopp of Rapid Valley Elementary in Rapid City
“The Educational Library”
Rapid City Public Library in Rapid City
The Rapid City Public Library is such a quiet and beautiful place. When you go to the kids area they have birds. They have the chirping of a dove singing its beautiful song. You can hear the typing of people looking for a book on the computer. The library is downtown. They have over 260,000 books, which is a lot! You can learn anything you want. Anything you want to know about books, just ask at reception. The library has six sections: the board game section, the 3D printing section, the teen books section, the computer section, the small children’s section and the adult section. The library was built in 1886. Did you know that they have teaching rooms where your tutor can also teach you? The library has all sorts of things you can do.
The library is my favorite place. The library is not only for reading, it is also for learning. You can search for anything. The library has nice people there. You can see wonderful views. There is a view of the mountains and another view of the buildings. It’s so pretty there. Books allow children to realize their dream so that they can be what they want to be. The library is such a wonderful place.
My sister and I would spend hours and hours in the library, she would read books to me and we would laugh and laugh. The library changes many hearts. Another time is that my grandmother would take me there and we would have fun. You just don’t know what will happen at the library.
The library must be preserved because people learn to read and read to learn. The library is filled with the joy of children who want to read. Children love to watch the little birds. It’s an exciting place to learn. They have books for everyone. I know the library will remain standing. I just know it. The library is an amazing place. Children learn and adults too. When you leave you have a smile on your face and I don’t know what I would do without it.

Winning third place with a story titled “A mistake that matters to me” on the Bowling water tower was Faith Roehrich from Clark County Elementary in Clark. She won a $50 cash prize and a one-year family membership in the State Historical Society.

3rd Place Winner: Faith Roehrich of Clark Elementary School in Clark
“A mistake that matters to me”
Water Tower at Bowdle
My dad teases me saying, “We’re celebrating a mistake!” I smile at him and say, “Well maybe!” Let me tell you why! Bowdle, South Dakota is a small town of 500 people and it’s where my grandfather Doug and my grandmother Linda still live. My mom grew up and went to school in Bowdle, South Dakota, and Bowdle is famous for having the tallest water tower in South Dakota. It stands 150 feet tall and was mistakenly delivered many years ago to Bowdle, South Dakota. You see, the water tower was to be delivered to Timber Lake, South Dakota. Big mistake! After realizing it had been delivered to Bowdle and the cost of trying to move it, Bowdle, South Dakota decided to keep it. So, in honor of having the tallest water tower, every year on the last weekend in June, Bowdle, South Dakota celebrates “Tower Days.” Our family decorates a float every year and my cousins ​​and I get to ride it! After the parade, our parents dismantle the float and my cousins ​​and I go to town. We have rootbeer floats, do the hula hoop contest, try to win minnow races and eat free popcorn. In the evening, we spend the night with Grandpa Doug and Grandma Linda and have dessert at Buster Bar before going to bed. It’s so much fun to celebrate the mistake! The next day, as we leave town, I look out the window of our SUV and see the 150-foot water tower in Bowdle, South Dakota. It is painted true blue and the Bowdle letters in black are a bit smudged. It may have been a mistake, but Bowdle, SD and the tallest water tower is a place that matters to me!

For more information about this annual celebration or other historic preservation programs, contact the State Historic Preservation Office at the Cultural Heritage Center, 900 Governors Drive, Stone, SD 57501-2217; phone 605-773-3458, email [email protected] or website For information about membership in the State Historical Society, please visit or call 605-773-6000.

Winning essays can also be found on the State Historical Society website,

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