Lots to do in Pierre for the right person - 7/31/2011
I love Pierre. It is simply gorgeous in all seasons. In summer I can take quiet, late night walks in the cooler hours without fear. There are quite a few small restaurants, there's a little theater, the downtown is alive and renovations are revitalizing upper Pierre St, the parks are beautiful (with an expansion of the bike path into the hills in progress), and there are festivals and fundraisers and much community spirit, which is important in this terrible year of the dam flood. There is a strong and positive Native American presence. I'm a big fan of history and nature, both of which exist here in abundance. I've walked all over La Framboise Island and all over Farm Island--where a coyote and I were startled to meet on a trail, as well as just about everywhere else. Pierre took ownership of its riverfront from the beginning so the wealthy can't block access as in most towns which I deeply appreciate. People get out and walk, bike, run, or skateboard. If you want to fish, hunt, boat, or swim, there's a lot of water and some nice little beaches in the area which can help you forget you are in a relatively arid part of the country and a very long trek from the ocean. Many motels feature fish cleaning facilities, as do some parks. In the fall you have to be careful not to get a pheasant through the windshield if you drive over the hills out of town. You don't have to get back in touch with nature here--you live among it.
The Capitol is open for exploration and is rightly called The People's House. In January the legislative circus comes to town to add their unique flavor. There are also tours in the summer of the Governor's Mansion. The Cultural Heritage Museum and archives is built into the hills and is covered with prairie grass making it blend in. Because Pierre is the state capital and county seat, and has its own town government as well as Federal offices (and tribal offices), many people work for the government, although many also work for St. Mary's Hospital complex. I would compare Pierre to Montpelier rather than to the usual town of its size which wouldn't have this polish and education, or these office buildings. It remains to be seen what Delta pulling out will mean to the airport expansion, but many people save money on long flights by driving to a city with lower prices. Most think nothing of three hours to Rapid City for shopping or to go to the airport, or a longer drive to Sioux Falls for an end of the school year trip. It bears no comparison with the same number of hours on big city expressways! :)
While Pierre's population hasn't skyrocketed, it is by no means a stagnant town, and since the late 1980s has begun to value its roots and the need to make the capital a place of pride for the state rather than an eyesore, starting with the total renovation of the Capitol and the creation of Hilger Gulch Park. The main block to growth is a lack of employee housing but that is being worked on, including a new subdivision going in right now, as well as more conference-ready motels, one of which seems due to be completed this year. Undoubtedly the fact that the last governor was from Pierre and settled in Fort Pierre, and the present governor is his good friend and was his lt governor, has increased the focus on making Pierre and Fort Pierre more prosperous and inviting.
Fort Pierre is also interesting, especially for Lewis and Clark or Deadwood Trail enthusiasts, and the overlook on the hill where the Verendrye plate was found is terrific. You can see the dam from the bridge between the two towns and there is a bike path to the dam on the Fort Pierre side, and two in the opposite direction on the Pierre side of the river to Farm Island State Recreation Area. Notice the roads are 1804 on one side of the river to the dam and 1806 on the other--the dates of the Lewis and Clark journey through here. There is always something new to learn or experience. I can see why 20 somethings would want to seek out the bright lights and excitement of the big city and if that's what they want, they should go there and do that. I've had enough bright lights, excitement, pollution, noise, crime, ugliness, and great disparity in wealth. Pierre suits me. It is the thinking woman's small town--with a copper dome. :) [more...]
Pretty, but isolated - 1/5/2006
I tried to live in Pierre several year ago; my folks retired there. It is a pretty little town on the Missouri river. Quiet, very safe, but incredibly isolated and with limited amenities (1-2 good restaruants and 1 movie theatre albeit with 3 screens). If you are not Catholic or Lutheran, you my find your particular house of worship non-existant or limited. Only 2 airlines service the area and flights are limited to 2 per day per airline (also, the planes are "puddle-jumpers"). Flights in and out are not convenient and limited seating is frequently a problem. I like visiting there, but after 6 months I had to leave for more....of everything. Going from LA to Pierre was too much of a culture shock, especially during the long, cold winters.[more...]