Mental Floss

Armchair Field Trip: The Corn Palace

Stacy Conradt
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At this time, we'd like to introduce you to the other new member of this ensemble, InternStacy Conradt, who's currently a graduate student at Iowa State University. Please give her a warm welcome. "“ Mangesh & Jason

I was driving to Sioux Falls, S.D. the other day and let me tell you, the drive from Des Moines to Sioux Falls is not particularly thrilling. It's so dull, in fact, that I found myself consulting the atlas just for fun (disclaimer: I do not endorse the act of map reading while driving). I discovered one of those "places of interest" printed in red, fairly close to my destination: The Corn Palace. The Corn Palace?! How could I stay within an hour of a place called The Corn Palace and not check it out?

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I also passed signs for the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and was a bit mystified when I saw this from afar:

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Turns out it was a sculpture garden"¦one that was closed for the season.

Anyway, on to the Corn Palace. Mitchell had only been in existence for 12 years when the first Palace was built in 1892. If a building decorated with corn cobs sounds a little strange to you, then Mitchell's founding fathers accomplished their goal "“ they wanted to build something out of the ordinary to put the town on the map. A second Palace was built in 1905 to replace the original when it was deemed too small. Finally, in 1919, something called "building codes" were invented. In 1921, the Corn Palace's wooden structure (with dirt floor) had to make way for the steel and brick building that still stands today.

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The decorating method is pretty simple: varying shades of corn cobs, grown by one local farmer, are sliced in half lengthwise and nailed to the building. The corn in accented by bundles of milo, rye, oat heads and sour dock.

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The building isn't just pretty, it's also functional "“ local schools (high school and colleges) play basketball games there. I know you're curious, and yes, the high school team is called the Mitchell Kernels.

If you visit Mitchell and you're not totally satisfied by your Corn Palace visit, there's more fun to be had across the street at the Enchanted World Doll Museum.

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Because I don't want to have nightmares for the rest of my life, I declined.

So what about you guys? What strange local landmarks have you visited?

Previous Armchair Field Trips: "¢ Portugal "¢ The International Spy Museum "¢ Utah "¢ Intercourse, Pennsylvania"¢ Ogunquit, Maine "¢ Aquinnah, Massachusetts

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