DE SMET. S.D. (KELO)– Visitors in De Smet may soon be able to explore more of the city’s landmarks.
De Smet is most famous for its pioneer history as told by Laura Ingalls Wilder. While visitors are able to visit and walk around many of the history landmarks they’ve read about, there’s one that is currently inaccessible, Silver Lake.
This area is the big slough leading to Silver Lake, an area famously known as the place Laura Ingalls Wilder found herself lost as told in her famous books. But currently tourists are not able to enjoy this area. That’s something Bob Montross wants to change.
“I farm just about three miles east of here and I come by this piece of property the state of South Dakota has owned for a long time. I see the cattails and think ‘can’t we do something better with them?’,” said Montross.
Montross brought community members together, and even got the National Parks Service involved, in proposing a trail system crossing the slough and providing access to Silver Lake.
“It’s so important with history with all that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about, one of her books of course was By the Shores of Silver Lake, and now tourists really do not have access to the lake,” said Rita Anderson, director of the De Smet Development Corporation.
This nearly $2 million project will feature a boardwalk, hiking trails and a lookout tower, helping to bring the story of Laura Ingalls Wilder to life.
“Our goal has been to have a place where they can come, enjoy, even bird watching, and see just exactly see what Laura saw when she was here,” said Anderson.
After this phase of the project is complete, they hope to expand out into the rest of the county.
“When they are living or visiting in De Smet to basically experience this landscape that Laura wrote about so many years ago. So the vision is for this trail project to leave De Smet, cross over Big Slough which is right behind me, visit this Game Fish and Parks property across the slough and then carry on to destinations of interest across the county,” said Barett Steenrod, community planner for the National Parks Service.
Giving people a chance to walk along a piece of pioneer history.
“People get out here where they would probably cross in the 30’s or in tough times, that younger people ought to maybe follow in their footsteps,” said Montross.
They are hoping to complete the first phase of this project in the next couple years, but they are still trying to fund it. If you are interested in donating, you can contact Rita Anderson.