The drive to Mike McQuistion’s ranch in central South Dakota is similar to a trip into a national park. Prairie scenery gives way to bluffs and hills and valleys, roads wind and get more rugged, and the sky opens up to endlessness.
Out in the pasture, driving in four-wheel over lumps and bumps, suddenly the land in front of your windshield gives way to the view of Lake Oahe sprawling as far as your eyesight can stretch.
McQuistion is showing off the artesian well system on his land. Wells 2,400 feet deep, flowing 35-40 gallons per minute. The water is potable, but “it’s got a taste to it. You don’t have to take your vitamins,” he jokes.
The wells keep the cattle watered, and a reverse osmosis system in the house allows his family to use the water as well.
Living along the Missouri River, just north of the Oahe Dam, means McQuistion has the kind of views people will drive for hours to see. His family has a history on this land going back five generations. In the 1960s, his grandparents moved their house and barn to a higher altitude so that when the dam was built, they wouldn’t be flooded. The house remains on that far-off hill, nobody living there for 40 years now.
Editor’s note: Mike McQuistion’s story of survival as an infant and later as an adult is incredible. Watch this blog for the publication of that story soon.