On my recent drive across country I found myself in the middle of nowhere, South Dakota when it was time to stop for the night. Fortunately I’m quite the planner, so I had already made reservations. Where else would a drawbridge operator stay but at a motel called A Bridge View Inn? The website made this family owned place sound delightful, and they allow pets, so what the heck. May as well give it a shot.
The motel was clean and just fine if you weren’t expecting modern conveniences like refrigerators, closets, and phones in the rooms. But they did provide a fly swatter. That’s a first. The owner was friendly. Breakfast consisted of Otis Spunkmeyer muffins. And there was a nice view of the bridge. Just not from the window in my room.
Driving into Chamberlain, South Dakota, population 2,387, the county seat, was everything one would expect it to be. Shotgun houses, one or two fast food joints, a cute waterfront park and the inn. That’s about it. But oh, this is a proud little town! Their official motto is “One day just isn’t enough…” But it is. It really is. Once you’ve seen the South Dakota Hall of Fame and the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center (both of which I skipped, but I would have loved to check out the museum if I wouldn’t have been leaving two barking dogs in the motel room) there’s nothing else to do, really.
But did I mention that this is a proud little town? Chamberlainers make much ado about their bridge. The motel is named for the view of it. There are photographs of it in local restaurants. It was rededicated in June of this year among much pomp and circumstance. It is now the American Legion Memorial Bridge. There’s a plaque and everything.
But here’s the thing. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing particularly special about it. It’s your basic steel truss bridge. It isn’t especially pretty unless you’re really, really into bridges. And it’s not even the only place to cross the Missouri River in the area. There’s another bridge less than a mile away. So I have to admit that their over the top civic pride kind of made me giggle.
But in retrospect, what else do they have? I mean, everyone has a right to feel proud of… something. So you go, little Chamberlain! Pride yourself silly! Any bridge beats the world’s largest ear of corn, or whatever else you could have come up with. More power to you!
[Image credits: chamberlainsd.org]