Tuesday 12 July
The itinerary plan was for a 200-mile day, with a stop midway in Sioux City, Iowa before heading to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. At the start of 2022, my “missed states” list had five entries. With this trip and the two previous, I’d reduced that to two: North Dakota and Alabama. Plus Sioux Falls was within striking distance of Minnesota, or so I thought.
Indigo, my Omaha hotel, purported to offer breakfast. When I dropped down to the lobby, the pickings were boxed juices and individually wrapped (mass market) muffins. Coffee could be made in the room. Underwhelmed, I took a blueberry pastry and returned to eat it with a banana in my suite. Once in the car, Garmin took me across the Missouri River into Iowa and then north on I-29 pretty much all the way, through a couple of construction zones. Temperatures outside had risen from 71°F at 8:45 into the mid 80’s by midday. Sunny, and the terrain was as flat as I expected.
The interstate runs to the south of Sioux City along the Missouri, so I was about half a mile on city streets. The Cathedral of the Epiphany is twin-towered-with-spires, a red-bricked building facing west onto Douglas Street at 10th. The terrain here is hilly, with a stone Episcopal church at the top of the next rise. Victorian-aged houses in the immediate vicinity are in disrepair. A single double-door entry up stairs from the sidewalk brought me into the narthex, where a gold dome cover topped the baptismal font. A glass and wood screen stands before the nave floor. The dark wood pews are separated by side aisles as well as the one in the center. The color scheme is ivory with deep brick red accents. In the curved bay housing the sanctuary, the altar reredos is dark wood with gold highlights, with many spires. The crucifix above this high altar is icon-like, with the carved curved Christ between images of His mother and John. The wall of the sanctuary has five stenciled arches in a muted brick red and gold pattern, with ivory into the vault. The cathedra, a carved, squat armchair, sits on a raised wooden platform between the two altar tables.
Above the narthex, the organ pipes fill the loft, allowing light from the western rose window in a geometric pattern. In the transepts, the arched windows include circular windows with the Nativity and Epiphany scenes included. Along the nave walls, between the stations, are representations of the apostles in pairs, with them actually identified by name, rather than relying on knowing their method of martyrdom. I particularly like the stenciled four-pointed cross in the vault at the crossing.
Returning to the interstate, I filled the gas tank. Surprised to see 80mph as the speed limit, it was another hour and a quarter and I was entering Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Set on a rise, which across the street drops to a park below, is the Cathedral of Saint Joseph. I found street parking close by, and walked the rise to the stairs which allowed me to enter from the side. A gleaming white edifice, the eastern face has matching tall square towers topped by several turrets. In the center is a large rose window over the central door, up stairs and a level above the street entrance to the undercroft.
Entering the nave, I discovered the daily Mass is at noon, and had co-celebrants. With a very high vault, the thick marble columns and stenciling were mainly pastels, and I felt the place was massive. A circular gold domed baldachin is supported by black marble, protecting the altar table, set on the raised predella. Once dismissed, the pews emptied gradually, and I was able to photograph the stained-glass windows that honored various eighteenth and nineteenth century saints. The loft over the entrance was beautifully carved, housing the massive collection of organ pipes (which I would love to hear played.) The rose window behind the pipes is of Christ the King.
Going back outside, I continued to walk away from where I’d parked to try to find “that shot”. I was unsettled, as this cathedral had left me cold and overwhelmed. And being so large, the mature street tress blocked the better pictures. I guess once leaves fall in autumn, more would be visible. But I’m not likely to return when there’s the possibility of snow!
About a mile on, 9 blocks south and 3 east brought me to Calvary Cathedral. The church office had closed at 1, several minutes before I arrived, but the maintenance man was generous and allowed me inside. Set on a rise above the street at a corner, the rear neighbor is a TV stations, with a very tall radio tower as a backdrop. The two-story red-brick building faces west on Main Street, and the parking meter I’d selected on West 13 broke when I fed it coins.
Behind a simple altar rail, the tables are set in a wood setting below stenciling and seven stained-glass windows. Seats for the officiants, bishop and dean are all set into this curved wall. The nave is small, particularly relative to St Joseph’s, but the intimacy is soothing. A splendid John the Baptist rose window is in the western wall, over the baptistry. The vault is strips of wood, set in a diamond pattern before the Good Shepherd window.
Atlas Obscura had recently included an article on one of the stained-glass windows in the sanctuary. It seems a wealthy divorcee (at the turn of the 20th century, South Dakota was the divorce capital of the United States) had donated one of the windows. Controversy ensued, and the church vestry decided that they need to remove the record of the donation. So the panel under the “Suffer little children” window has been scraped to remove her mention.
Hungry, I walked down to Phillips Ave at the suggestion of the maintenance man. He suggested that I walk this main drag to view the street sculpture that was in place. I found lunch at Pho Thai, a big bowl of red curry with chicken, and a Singha. A huge bowl, I was unable to finish. I then took a stroll on the shady side to 7th Street, and returned to the car. There were a few pieces I enjoyed, but the highlight was spotting a brewery.
After checking into the Valley Inn, I headed to the park on the Big Sioux River. A pleasant expanse of grass on the banks of the river, I spent some time looking at the falls which give the city its name, climbed the tower, and looked at the ruins of a mill that was never successful, albeit it had great capability.
As the brewery didn’t open until 3, I was killing time, and headed there an hour after it opened. I had pints of Smash Cascade and Spare Pecan, and a half of the darker Midnight Trek.
Armed with a suggestion for dinner, I headed down Phillips and ran into Minerva, which had been my first recommendation at Calvary. Busy, I was seated at the bar and had Oban 14 with a Morgan Ranch burger with bacon and Danish blue cheese (and sweet potato fries.) For dessert, chocolate brownie souffle with vanilla ice cream.