Aug 24, 2009

the history of South Dakota tourism

To understand the profusion of roadside attractions along Highway 16 from the Wyoming border to Rapid City, you have to know your history.

In 1934, the United States suffered through a crippling Depression. As a way to spur economic development, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Tourism Restoration and Protection Act* into law, designating the southwestern corner of South Dakota as a National Cash Extraction Zone. The Act provided for the construction of a gigantic statue carved into the Black Hills, to be called the Mount of the Three Presidents, honoring Lincoln, Washington, and Jefferson.**

The TRPA enjoyed limited immediate success, bearing most of its fruit after the end of the Second World War, as hundreds of thousands of Americans, hungry for a sense of normalcy, descended upon South Dakota like gnats on a banana.

In 1964, the United Nations proclaimed the region a World Old-Timey Heritage Area,*** ensuring the maintenance of Reptile Gardens, Cartoon-Based Theme Parks, Chuck Wagon Dinners, Mystery Areas, and Ridiculous Tram Rides for generations to come.

*Or, as it was affectionately known, the Tourist Trap Act.
**Teddy Roosevelt's bespectacled face was added to the plan upon the insistence of nephew Franklin Delano, who refused to sign the TRPA without it.
***Only one other site in the United States has merited such a designation: the Drug Store That Shall Not Be Named.


TeacherRefPoet said...

Um...did you leave off a certain footnote?

Jim Anderson said...



Nancy said...

Well put!

Martyn said...

Check out the forthcoming A Marvelous Hundred Square Miles: Black Hills Tourism, 1880-1941 for even more really good information about the history of tourism in SD.

Martyn said...

Sorry, left the link out: A Marvelous Hundred Square Miles

South dakota tourism said...

Nice article... it is really well said that to learn the history of any of the place, you need to know own history!! A well executed article that reveals the reason behind these marvellous and most visited sculpture of America. The place truly shows the vision and foresightedness of President Roosevelt. Today it is one of the never forgettable attractions of America and all credit goes to Sir Roosevelt!! Carry on buddy and enrich us with multiple informations like this!!