Prairie Monks

Porter Sculpture Park, off Interstate 90, Montrose, South Dakota

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Backroads America: Auburn, ND

When The Railroad Passes By

In 1883, a post office was established in Auburn, an unincorporated community in Walsh County, North Dakota. Founded on the windswept prairie in the northeast corner of North Dakota, Auburn is about 40 miles south of the Canadian border. At one time Auburn had two hotels, a hardware store, a general store, seven saloons, a school, a church, a saddle maker, and many other businesses. In the winter of 1888/89, much of the business area was destroyed by fire. With the construction of the railroad, business activity shifted to nearby Grafton, and the town’s population dwindled. The post office remained in operation until 1943.  As of the 2010 census, the population was 48. Ancestors of one of my sisters-in-law helped settle Auburn and farmed in the area. Her family still has a house in Auburn and farm land in the surrounding countryside.

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Prairie Moonrise at Sunset

Dusk fell soon after the train departed Chicago. The gray skies cleared as the moon rose. Amazing what a smart phone can do through a dirty train window in low light. With a little help from Snapseed

Prairie Clouds

Near the border of Iowa and Minnesota. Clouds in the Midwest are the best.

Porter Sculpture Park

A Sculpture Park on the Windswept Prairie

When I visited my sister in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, recently, we were looking for a short road trip for the day. I had read about an unusual sculpture park in the state but couldn’t remember much about it. Thanks to Google (what would we do without it), I located the park and it was only 30 miles west of Sioux Falls on Interstate 90 (I-90). Located in the open, rolling prairie just off the freeway near Montrose, the Porter Sculpture Park is truly a one-of-a-kind roadside attraction. While we were skeptical when we arrived, we ended up spending a couple of hours experiencing over 50 welded sculptures made from recycled metal. Some are amusing, some are menacing. Some are out of another dimension. We could have stayed longer but the fierce wind was chilly even on a bright sunny day. Stroll with me  along the path and view a few of my favorites. Watch out for the cow pies—Cattle appear to roam the park in the off-season. I am saving the oddities for another post.

Sign at the turn off.

The main attraction is the 60 foot Egyptian Bull’s head made of old railroad ties. Human skeletons with rams heads serve as guards. The mammoth bovine is visible from the freeway. An opening in the back lets visitors inside to head to view a crucified demon, and possibly bats.



Pain and Joy. One of the larger works.

The fishbowl was one of my favorites. Single fish swim throughout the site.

Single goldfish on the road into the sculpture park.

The Red Monks and the Yellow Lady. The sacred and the profane. The sculptor, Wayne Porter, had intended to create a line of nine monks with Gregorian chants issuing from inside. If you visit the park, he is usually there. I asked him if he was going to make more monks. He said probably not: It would take too long and he had other projects. He proudly showed us photos of the 40 ft. horse he is currently constructing.

The Purple Rider portrays a story about Porter and his brother, which is explained on the sign.

This grinning is the sculpture that greets visitors from all over.  The variety of  U.S. license plates in the parking lot surprised us. I recommend a visit if you are in the area in the summer.

The first piece as you enter.

Hours: Open Daily 7 A.M.-8 P.M. Memorial Day Through September 15.  Admission:$8 FOR ADULTS, $4 Ages 13-17, Ages 12 & under free.  Directions: 45160 257th St, Montrose, SD 57048


Unusual is an Understatement

The Screamer

Porter Sculpture Park, Montrose, South Dakota

Located off Interstate 90 in South Dakota, the Porter Sculpture Park includes about 50 sculptures made of recycled metal. I will be featuring the park in a more in-depth post soon.


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