We periodically travel to dog shows. At the beginning of October, it was a national (international participation, though) dog show in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. Toward the end of October, there was a show in South Dakota.
We packed up the hound transport vehicle, and headed west early on a Sunday morning. Traveling west and west into the prairies of the eastern Dakotas always has a sort of romanticism for me. The prairies are windswept with endless farms and lonely islands of trees surrounding farm houses.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was our destination. Hound Eveleth (Eve) was to be showed. Shows are generally interesting; there are great looking dogs and often, delightful people watching.
The wind was stiff in Sioux Falls, but it lacked that bite that would arrive later in the fall.
Melissa was conversing with her fellow hound-people – I was looking up information on a little hole-in-wall outpost 30 minutes off the main thoroughfare of southern Minnesota: Pipestone National Monument.
Pipestone National Monument, in Pipestone, Minnesota, is where, you may have guessed, pipestone can be found.
Pipestone, or otherwise known as catlinite (named after George Catlin, the purported first white man to visit the area in the 1830s), is a metamorphosed mudstone and is the second softest rock in the world. Indigenous people of the upper midwest and North America, used the quarries where Pipestone National Monument is now located to obtain the stone to make ceremonial smoking pipes. Wikipedia, surprisingly, (at the time of this writing) does not cover much beyond the making of peace pipes out of pipestone by Native Americans and a bit about Catlin. Using Google, I was able to find an article by Ernest L. Berg written in April 1938 and published in American Mineralogy (volume 23, no. 4, p. 258-268) titled, Notes on catlinite and the Sioux quartzite.
Getting to the monument was relatively uneventful; it is in farm country and it was after harvest time. There were small patches of snow here and there on the shadow-side of road ditches.
We drove into the city of Pipestone; we took a left on this street, drove past the large piles of grain, and then another left down that road.
Arriving at the monument site, it seemed very strange to be so close to these quarries that had been used by indigenous people for a very long time prior to Europeans arriving in North America.