DAKOTA LIFE Darkrooms & Abandoned Towns

Posted by Katy Beem on
Old Stone Church, built in 1923, stands west of Mobridge.

February’s Dakota Life takes us deep into South Dakota’s historic past.

We visit Deadwood to learn about the preservation project of digitizing and cataloging the vast collection of prolific photographer Josef Fassbender. Fassbender, an immigrant from Germany who came to South Dakota in 1914, established Black Hills Studio in Spearfish, which operated into the 1980s. More than 800,000 images are in the process of being digitized at Deadwood’s Homestake Research and Cultural Center.

And we go southeast where, in the Yankton Reservation during the FDR era, the federal government experimented with establishing a Native American communal farm to spur economic development among American Indians. Named “Rising Hail Cooperative Development Association” after a prominent local chief, the colony’s buildings were built of chalk rock from the nearby Missouri River banks. The commune project was abandoned by the 1960s, and the area was farmed by the Cournoyer family, but ruins of the chalk stone buildings remain today.

And we venture to northcentral South Dakota on a ghost town hunt with Stephanie Rissler, to visit what remains of Miscol, Light Cap, Firesteel, Cresbard, Okobojo and Devoe and learn about the people who homesteaded these communities.

Travel off the beaten path for compelling South Dakota history with the latest episode of Dakota Life – premiering Thursday, Feb. 2 at 8pm (7 MT) and Sunday, Feb. 5 at 1pm (Noon MT).

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