is routinely talked about in this northeast part of
that the deep, thickly forested ravines of the eastern slope of the
Prairie Coteau Hills are haunted. This belief can be traced back to
the Dakota Sioux
who once used the area as their primary hunting grounds. One place
in particular, now called Sica
Hollow State Park, is thought to be the location of a creation and
vengeance story where various
American mythical figures fought.
Native Americans visited the location, they named it "Sica,”
(pronounced she-cha) meaning evil or bad. Numerous
legends recall mysterious happenings here. The local Dakota
believed this to be the reason for the red-tinted water that gushed
out of the springs in Sica
Hollow. Actually, it was most likely the result of
minerals in the water, but still, the legend persists to this day. One can still walk the Trail of Spirits, where supernatural forces are
supposedly at work. When whites first stumbled upon Sica
Hollow and the hills surrounding it, many of the fears of the
supernatural were spread from the Dakota to the white settlers.
The first white man
to make his home near what would one day become Sica
Hollow State Park was named Robert Roi, in the 1840s. Finding the location to be ideal due to the abundant game, he soon
made his home in a deep ravine. The local
Indians thought Roi crazy for living in an area that they would
not dare set foot in, much less make their home.
A few years later, an expeditionary force
of U.S. government soldiers from Browns Valley set out to find Mr. Roi. With the intent of collecting strategic information on what was then
the frontier, it took them a number of days just to get down into the
wooded ravine were he lived. After they had visited with Roi, the
soldiers left, agreeing with the local natives that the man was
probably crazy to be living in such a place.
As the years passed,
more and more whites settled the area and the mythical stories about Sica
Hollow only grew. It was later believed that some sort
of beast or "Big Foot” type man inhabited the dense woods. This
fear came to a boiling point when several people disappeared at Sica
Hollow in the 1970s.
Of the many people who
joined the hunting parties for the missing persons, several who
participated openly admitted that they were looking for some sort of
beast. Such an idea was supported by recent local sightings of
something apparently fitting that description. Others thought there might be a bear loose in Sica
Hollow, but of beast, bear, or the missing persons, nothing was found.
Some parts of Sica
Hollow, nearby Long Hollow, and other area ravines contain a form of
quicksand due to the numerous springs. Additionally, there are vast
stretches of densely forested gullies and harbor ravines that drop several
hundred vertical feet. It is little wonder why mythical stories
persist to this day. Over the years, nobody would live in Sica Hollow,
which is one of the primary reasons that it is a national preserve and
state park today.
Rising from the plains,
these rugged, timber-covered hills and ravines were left after the last
glacier receded less than 20,000 years ago. The
called them "Paha Tanka” or "Great Hills.” Through the park runs a
National Recreation Trail called the Trail of Spirits. Along this
path, you'll see gurgling reddish bogs, the very same ones that the
thought were sprouting the blood and flesh of their ancestors. Swamp gas
and stumps glow in the dark, and small waterfalls are heard echoing as
trapped air escapes. It is easy to understand why these anomalies of
Mother Nature were held in awe by ancient
tribes and the subject of many legends.
For those that have been
brave enough to stay the night in the park, many have reported hearing
voices and chanting, the sounds of cries and war whoops, and even a few
reported sighting of ghostly
Hollow is as beautiful as it is spooky. The State Park is located 15
miles northwest of Sisseton,
just of SD Highway 10.
of America, updated July, 2015.