Concrete Tipis Added to National Register of Historic Places

Doug EnrightMarch 12, 2015

Rest stops are a staple of the American commute. If you’ve ever driven cross-country, you’ve stopped at them here or there to go to the bathroom, eat lunch or buy souvenirs. Rest stops vary from state-to-state. Recently, concrete rest stop tipis have received some national recognition as a new way to not only stop and see the country but to take part in something amazing on the road.

Whitwam’s wigwams, or tipis, were opened more than 50 years ago. They were placed along Interstate 90 and are made of concrete. They’re concrete instate tipis and were entered into the National Register of Historic Places as Ward Whitwmam’s concrete instate tipis. There were four tipis in this area of the country and five more from South Dakota that were built during the years 1939 to 1979.

These concrete tipis have been recognized by the National Park Service (NPS), along with the state of South Dakota. The American Indian culture preserved by the concrete tipis is just one part of honoring them throughout history. South Dakota is known for a variety of rest stops, including Dinosaur Park, the pheasant in Huron, Milbank’s windmill and Chef Louis’s steak house. While the tipis represent more art than anything else, they’re worth a stop by on any trip through the state.

Whitwam originally meant for more concrete tips to be littered across the state but they proved more difficult than he thought to build and move into place. The concrete tipis were covered with earth, reflecting sod houses that many in the American Indian culture used to live in. The concrete tipi bases reach 35 feet in diameter and feature a three foot opening at its height. They cost about $225,000 in the 1960s to erect.

Concrete tipis are just one unique way concrete is used in building. Have you ever seen the concrete tipis? If not, they’re worth a trip, whether you’re driving through the states or take the time out of a trip to do it.

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