Motorcycle at Lost Bridge
There. See it? Coming up to that first curve at the bottom of the hill. It’s a motorcycle traveling one the most scenic route in North Dakota, Highway 22 from near New Town down to Killdeer, North Dakota.
This is the most scenic route in the state because it follows the cuts, buttes and bluffs of the Badlands along the western edge of North Dakota. Those people who drive through Fargo and Grand Forks and call North Dakota a flat feature-less landscape are not seeing the whole picture. This route, with its curves and hills is a grand sightseeing ride especially at the end of the day like this.
And while it is great to ride through, it’s even better if a person has a chance to stop and hike a bit at the Little Missouri State Park. That’s the Little Missouri River down there where you see the bridge. It meanders from the southern part of the state north to near here where it empties in to the Missouri River.
Have you had a chance to explore the Badlands? I mean, on foot. First ride or drive through it, then get out and hike a bit. Have you done that yet?
A cold ride in the Badlands
It’s a week in to the official “spring” in North Dakota and bikers are ready to ride even if there is still snow in the Badlands. I caught these riders on a 50 degree day on Scenic Highway 22 on the southern edge of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. That’s the Little Missouri River in the background under that plain flat jersey barrier bridge that replaced the through-truss bridge that once stood there.
These riders had used up the warm part of the day and now were re-grouping at the pull over between Killdeer and Mandaree. They were from various parts of the nearby region, mostly from Killdeer and were excited and happy to get out to ride.
It’s an early season ride like this that leathers are not fashion statements, they’re required wearing for warmth. The chick in the middle with the long reddish-brown hair? It would have been a miserably cold ride for her, under-dressed as she was.
There’s not much left of Dodge, North Dakota. The railroad pulled out and left the grain elevator which had been an investment in not only the community but the area. It stands idle in the rolling hills bluffs and buttes of western North Dakota. The deteriorating church in the foreground is also testament to the decline of rural communities. I guess the sower went forth elsewhere to sow.
I’ve shot the church in years past in different weather and different lights. This time I drove, up a hill south of Dodge, hiked a short bit to get the church lined up with the grain elevator. I’ve thought of ways to filter the image, to do some “fixing” in post–processing, but decided just showing it as it is tells the story.
Meanwhile, down the rail line a ways, is another grain elevator that still struggles without its rail line.The Killdeer elevator serves area ranchers with storage and with feed supplies. On a full-moon night, I caught the moon peeking through scattered clouds behind the elevator. To get the angle I wanted, I climbed a snow stockpile the city had pushed up in the elevator yard. I dug in my boots in to the side of the snow pile, laid in a still position, bracing the camera to remain steady for the long exposure. I know more than one vehicle passed me thinking perhaps that I was some drunk laying in the snow. Who knows, I may still be there. Maybe I should go back and look.
Sagagawea and the Corps of Discovery at night
We return to Western North Dakota for a trip down Highway 200 including a stop at the Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center in Washburn. The foggy misty night made the large statues a soft glow.
Antique Ford resting in the snow
Earlier in the day, I stopped in Golden Valley, North Dakota. On the south side of town is a row of unused equipment, including this old grain truck — still licensed, though not with current tags. Golden Vally has a good display of antique equipment, mostly antique construction equipment. However, if you’re fortunate to be there when the Lindemann’s are around, you can talk them in to touring one of the most extensive Harley Davidson museums anywhere! At least one model HD from every year is in their museum. (More about that later in ND 365.)
Drilling rigs light up the night in western ND
My turn around point on the day’s trip was the Killdeer Mountains near Killdeer, North Dakota. Here, one of the many oil rigs is drilling for oil. The area is seeing a resurgence in oil activity. More than 100 rigs are operating in the state, the highest number since the early 1980’s.