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Looking for History on Highway 14
     

Looking for History on Highway 14

by John E. Miller
 

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Winner-Mountain Plains Library Association Literary Contribution Award

Millions of Americans have fond memories of traveling United States Highway 14, the Black and Yellow Trail, to South Dakota's Black Hills and beyond. Armchair travelers wanting to sample small-town life, significant historical events, and modern-day marvels will find much to

Overview

Winner-Mountain Plains Library Association Literary Contribution Award

Millions of Americans have fond memories of traveling United States Highway 14, the Black and Yellow Trail, to South Dakota's Black Hills and beyond. Armchair travelers wanting to sample small-town life, significant historical events, and modern-day marvels will find much to please in John E. Miller's Looking for History on Highway 14.

For three hundred years, small towns were central to the way Americans lived their lives and derived their values. During the past century, an industrialized, urban, media-saturated society has come to define American culture, but the notion of the small town still excites the imagination.

Miller seeks to capture the spirit and essence of small-town life, taking the reader into cafes, depots and stores to meet farmers, ranchers and townspeople. He encourages people to think seriously about the quality of life and sense of community that contribute to the ideal of the small town. Although Miller focuses on small towns in South Dakota, much of what he writes applies to the history and fate of small towns in general.

Highway 14 traverses the heart of South Dakota, passing through Pierre, the state capital; Brookings, home to the state's land-grant university; and Huron, the state fair city. Towns on the route include De Smet, Laura Ingalls Wilder's little town on the prairie; Manchester, hometown of prairie painter Harvey Dunn; and historic Fort Pierre where trade routes and cultures-American Indian and white-intersected. Here, French explorer Francois La Verendrye buried a lead-plate marker in 1743, Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery encountered the Teton Lakotas and fur-traders and missionaries pursued their livelihoods among the native inhabitants.

Along the way, Miller visits an Elkton celebration, an Arlington farm family, an Iroquois cafe, historians in the town of Miller and the Highmore courthouse. He describes Saturday night in Harrold, Midland's railroad depot museum, memories of Philip's hardware store and the world-famous drugstore in Wall. He completes his tour at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, a place that reminds us that history is more than facts-it is the glue that binds us together as a people and supports our cherished values and beliefs, many of them derived from America's small-town heritage.

About the Author:
John E. Miller has lived along Highway 14 in four states, most recently in Brookings where he is professor of history at South Dakota State University.

Editorial Reviews

Most enjoyable, however, is vicariously meeting the people.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Blending history, travelogue and reportage, Miller, professor of history at South Dakota State University, describes 16 small towns along Federal Highway 14 in South Dakota. In Brookings, he offers a close reading of the town's self-produced histories, observing that such boosterish accounts fail to reveal a community's character and development. In De Smet, he explores the ``little town on the prairie'' that served as the setting for five books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, while in Manchester, he investigates the scenic inspirations for prairie painter Harvey Dunn, ``South Dakota's most beloved and most famous artist.'' A visit to Fort Pierre prompts his reflections on white domination of the native Sioux, while Mount Rushmore becomes a metaphor for how we define history as Miller considers who is left off the mountain sculpture--women, people of color, and common, working people. While Miller certainly proves that these towns have riches to be plumbed, his prose style is merely serviceable, and the parochialism of his topic limits this book primarily to regional interest. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Library Journal
Miller (history, South Dakota State Univ.) employs a blend of history and journalism to explore 15 towns on a major highway that runs through the middle of South Dakota. The author traces the history of the highway from its beginnings as a dirt trail to a hard-surfaced interstate, a revolution brought about by the automobile. The towns on the route include De Smet (site of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little Town on the Prairie ) and Fort Pierre (originally home to several Native American tribes). This work is filled with details about people and places along the road. The author's interest in small-town history and his affection for his state are evident on every page. This will be of interest to Dakota residents and travelers on Highway 14.-- Caroline Mitchell, Washington, D.C.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780962262166
Publisher:
South Dakota State Historical Society Press
Publication date:
01/28/2001
Pages:
274
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

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