On the road to Sioux Falls, SD we happened upon the hamlet of Garretson, a sleepy little mill town off the beaten path that has its place in history. This was the site of a failed bank robbery by the notorious Jesse James. Soon after the blundered attempt, a posse was in hot pursuit of the folk hero. Jesse followed the creek bed out of town and into the wilds, to a place known as Devil’s Falls, later to become the site of the famous Devil’s Gulch.
When James reached the chasm, a dilemma was imminent. Either he had to jump the ragged edged cliffs to escape or he would definitely find himself a victim of his own demise. The sign and marker where the exact jump have been since damaged by vandals. A sad essay on the youth of America today. And when looking at his photo, it doesn’t appear that the metal structure that bridges to the other side is much of a leap.
We walked across and down around the rocks to the body of water below to see just how this jump is a feat that had to astound those that pursued him. It was a bit of a treacherous jaunt which got me to thinking about the rush that he must have been experiencing. Here he was faced with death if he didn’t make the jump and imprisonment and death if he failed to even attempt it. It was a leap of at least thirty feet. History has it that Jesse backed up his horse, started into as full a gallup as could be mustered in such a short area, dug his spurs into the side of his horse…… and sailed.
I realized that Jesse James was just a common criminal, a thug in today’s society. And that he has been immortalized in lore and story handed down through the generations. But today, I marveled at the man’s ability to push the envelop to the edge and found myself in admiration. It was a good morning to be alive and I felt fortunate that we stumbled across this bit of history. I finished the morning just contemplating thoughts, who we are, why we do the things we do, and watching the water rush by. That always seem to have a calming effect on any fears of the thought process.