Editor's Notebook

Join our Editor-at-large and founder, Bernie Hunhoff, as he offers stories, quips & travel tips gathered as he roams South Dakota. Other magazine staffers may contribute here or there as well. Enjoy the South Dakota miscellanea.

Could You Refuse The Burros?

May 18, 2011

Thousands of vacationing families have encountered the friendly pack of burros that lives along the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. It's become tradition to stop and feed them a treat, but while preparing our May/June 2011 issue's "Oughta Do" list for kids, we discovered the burros were never meant to be there and visitors really shouldn't feed them.

Of course we should have known not to give them food. There are signs posted throughout the park discouraging feeding any wildlife. Like most motorists, we assumed that meant the buffalo, bighorn sheep, and the other more dangerous creatures. But certainly not the affable burros.

However, when we called the park seeking more information, a ranger told us the burros are just as wild as any other animal that roams the Black Hills National Forest. She further reported that burros are not native to the Hills. Workers brought them to help haul materials while building roads and bridges, and to carry visitors up Harney Peak. When construction work was finished, the men turned the burros loose.

Nowadays, when you drive the Wildlife Loop, the fearless burros walk right up to your car. They'll even stick their heads in the window if they smell something good. And that could be anything. A burro once snatched a cough drop from a driver's hand.

Park rangers don't recommend visitors feed them, but they know it happens. And it probably always will. Very few people can say no to the world's cutest beggars.

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A Waterfall in Union County?

May 4, 2011

Does East Union Creek in southeast South Dakota have a scenic little waterfall? I searched for awhile yesterday evening but to no avail.

The search began when I was in Elk Point earlier in the day, working on an article there. An old-timer told me about some historic spots in Union County, and he said one of the prettiest places was a waterfall on the creek which is in the northern part of Union County somewhere northwest of a Union Creek Lutheran Church — which I did happen to find. But I figure the waterfall — if there is one — is further north than I was.

My source seems like too nice a fellow to have sent me on a wild goose chase. And all his other tips were right where he said they were — old churches, stagecoach stops, historic cemeteries, backroads to the Missouri River, and so on.

Union County is a beautiful place to travel in springtime. The rolling hills near Union County State Park and the Big Sioux River are little-known treasures to most South Dakotans. But whether there's a waterfall or not remains to be seen.

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