Today Medora's primary attraction continues to be its natural setting. The quarter-mile-high wall of clay buttes that guards the town's rear is merely an introduction to some of the nation's most bizarre terrain. French explorers dubbed it les mauvaise terres a traverser bad lands to cross. The Sioux term for the area, mako shika, means land of no good. Alfred Sully was even more vehement: he described the surrounding 8,square-mile section of rugged and spectacular country as ''hell with the fires out. In a sense, General Sully was right. North Dakota's so-called Badlands were once the swampy eastern terminus of rivers flowing from the Rocky Mountains, rivers that carried gravel, sand and clay to form alluvial plains since carved by rain and wind. However, erosion was not the only force at work here. Over time the swampy plant vegetation became lignite coal veins that, when sparked by lightning or prairie-grass fires, smoldered underground, baking the overlying rocks into what is known as scoria.
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Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Thinking small, staying big
Inside a former firehouse in Richmond, Va. In a Denver parking lot, theatergoers in cars watch, through their windshields, four performers costumed as grasshoppers. On a acre property in Arkansas, a cast of about re-enacts the story of Jesus for several hundred ticket-holders spread across a 4,seat outdoor amphitheater. But even as infections surge in the United States, many theaters are finding ways to present live performances before live audiences. Of course, there is social distancing. Also, in some places, masks. Temperature checks. Touchless ticketing. Intermissionless shows.
Off the Exit, Into the Past
Participants in a public dig near Dickinson, N. By Hillary Richard. On a blisteringly hot June day in the North Dakota Badlands, there are very few signs of life outside of birds, snakes and wandering livestock. The landscape is tall, stark and punishing, with loose rocks to trip you and serrated cliffs to cut you when you fall. Conical peaks rise from the ground, each striated layer full of potential discovery. This was once a land of savannas and plains, with rivers and lakes. Unrecognizable creatures — with disproportionate limbs, spikes, shells, horns, unfathomable teeth — roamed freely, feeding on the tall grass and, oftentimes, one another. On this day last summer, I was perched precariously on a steep, uncomfortably jagged mountain ledge that poked sharply even through my kneepads, the flat head of my rock hammer poised over a sharp chisel. The harsh summer sun cast a shadow over my tools, which were anchored in a crevice only millimeters deep.
But most of the scenery has a lulling sameness. Suddenly you gasp. These are the Badlands, whose remote and moody geography seems a spectacularly unlikely setting for a long-running stage show, let alone one that attracts an average of nearly 1, people each night. But such is the curious phenomenon of the Medora Musical , a spangled summertime revue performed in an amphitheater carved into the side of a butte, with the Badlands as its backdrop. The musical is also a homage — to the nature-loving 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt , who ranched for a while nearby, and, obscurely, to the North Dakota businessman who introduced Mr.