Abandoned Stairs in Wendt, South Dakota

Photo Copyright Alex Benison

Copyright Alex Benison

This week Lost Places goes back to the Dakotas–this time to South Dakota.  This fantastic shot was taken by Denver-based photographer Alex Benison in Wendt, South Dakota.  More of his work can be found at alexbenison.imagekind.com.  Alex found the house during a trip down gravel-strewn Bad River Road in central South Dakota.  The road, a 45-mile stretch between Fort Pierre and Midland, is something of a photographer’s dream.  The stretch includes prairies, waterways, herds of buffalo, and even a ghost town.

The ghost town is Capa, South Dakota, which by all reports was never really that big anyway.  The nearby bison belong to Ted Turner, founder of CNN, and owner of the 141,357-acre ranch.  The ranch features native grassland, rolling hills, and a wide assortment of wildlife, including elk, mountain lions, coyotes, prairie chickens, pheasant, and grouse.

The mouth of the Bad River is historically significant.  It was there that explorers Lewis and Clark encountered the Teton Sioux, a nomadic and warlike branch of the Sioux Nation, led by Chief Black Buffalo.  War and epidemic eventually took its toll on the Teton Sioux–and from the looks of this photograph, time is taking its toll on this house.

Headstones Near Litchville, North Dakota

Headstones Near Litchville, North Dakota

This week’s picture comes from photographer Anthony Kretowicz. It is a shot of a small early settlers’ cemetery roughly seven miles from Litchville, North Dakota. Litchville itself only houses about 170 residents. The fact that we’re using it as a way-marker is proof of the sparse population of this part of the United States.

North and South Dakota both gained statehood on Novemeber 2, 1889, making them the 39th and 40th states to enter the Union. Most early settlers of the state were German-Americans and Scandinavian-Americans, along with New Englanders from the eastern U.S.