South Dakota 125th: The return of Wagon Trains to South Dakota - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

South Dakota 125th: The return of Wagon Trains to South Dakota

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 Tonight we continue our nearly year long celebration of South Dakota's 125th year of statehood.
 The early pioneers had about three modes of transportation: boats on the Missouri River, trains where rail lines had been laid and wagons to cross the prairies.
 Those wagon trains took people to the Black Hills to search for gold and took homesteaders to their new homes.
 And in a little more than four months, a wagon train will again make its way across South Dakota.
 Riding in a wagon can wear on you.
 There's no shock absorbers. you feel every bump.
 And it will test your patience and you pass the prairie at roughly two-and-a-half miles per hour.
 It may not be for everyone but for Gerald Kessler, it's a little slice of pioneer heaven. "I've been all over the state, mostly the western part, and its just been fantastic."
 For three decades, Gerald Kessler worked for the state, doing a lot of computer work.
 Since he retired, he stays away from computers and prefers a quieter simpler life.
 Six years ago, Kessler organized a wagon train from Fort Pierre to Deadwood. He says seeing South Dakota from a wagon bench proves...125 years isn't that old.
 He says history is everywhere on the state's old wagon trails. "We found graves. unmarked graves and marked graves back into the 1800's. Like I said, our history of South Dakota is new enough that you can still see it."
 And Kessler is hoping to see more South Dakota history...and take more people along for the ride.
 He is organizing a new wagon train for this coming September.
 It will start in Yankton...the old capitol of Dakota Territory..before heading to Tabor, Scotland, Tripp, Ethan, Mitchell, Plankinton, Wessington Springs, Crow Lake, Gann Valley..before ending in Pierre...the state capitol. "You meet such wonderful people. they all have something in common with you."
 Don't think this wagon train will just be an opportunity to role play pioneer life. 
 If you ask Gerald Kessler, this wagon train is more than just an event: It is a way to show appreciation and respect to the first citizens of this area....the people who did the heavy lifting to take open land and make it into something. "Well you've gotta recognize the people that had the fortitude to make this country what it is. And their marks are still here."
 Right now, 20 wagons have signed up for the ride. 
 Kessler is hoping for more.
 He says there's nothing like traveling together, over the South Dakota land, side by side with strangers...who eventually become friends. "That's the South Dakota spirit; do it, do it together and help one another."
 Gerald Kessler is actively recruiting wagons for this ride, which will begin in early September. He is expecting it will last 17 days.
 If you would like to join the wagon train, you can find more information by clicking here
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