Want to buy a South Dakota town? Scenic is for sale
There have been news reports all across South Dakota this week about the dusty, remote town of Scenic being put up for sale for $800,000.
Actually, 46 acres of land are for sale, and the 12 acres that include Scenic are within the larger tract. It’s all up for sale because it’s become too much for the mother-and-daughter owners to handle.
I’ve been through Scenic, and it’s about as Western as a town can get. It’s located far west of the Missouri River in the southwest part of South Dakota, between the north and south units of Badlands National Park.
I saw Scenic with a colleague while on assignment for a newspaper (I wrote about that trip in another post). We passed through the town on our way to the Sheep Mountain Table Road, which is only a few miles south of Scenic and offers one of the most spectacular views in the state from atop Sheep Mountain Table. A few miles farther south is the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which unfortunately is immediately recognizable from the trash that litters the roadside.
The most memorable part of Scenic is the Longhorn Bar, the exterior of which is nearly covered in what appear to be cattle or buffalo skulls. The sign on the saloon says, among other things, “Indians Allowed.”
But that’s not all there is to Scenic. According to the Rapid City Journal, there’s also a U.S Post Office land lease, the Longhorn Fuel & Food Convenience Store, a museum with knotty pine interiors, two homes, two jails and eight residents. I’m not sure if the residents are part of the deal.
Perhaps most intriguing are the 700 vehicles that the broker says pass through Scenic “on a day-to-day basis.” That may sound unrealistic, but I guess I could believe it given the town’s proximity to the Badlands.
Will anybody buy Scenic? If they do, I suppose it will probably be more for the dozens of acres around it than for the town itself. If I were a leader in the Oglala Sioux Tribe at Pine Ridge, I’d be looking into it. The tribe has been in talks with the National Park Service about a greater role in the management of Badlands National Park’s lesser-used South Unit, and Scenic is perfectly situated at the northeast edge of the South Unit along state Highway 44. A visitor/welcome center at Scenic could help the tribe draw visitors into the South Unit and even farther south to places such as the Wounded Knee Massacre Site.