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Gallery M – The Fabulous 1940s & WWII Pheasant Canteen


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What would it be like to only drive 40 miles per hour on every highway in the nation? What if you could only buy a couple gallons of milk a week or two pair of shoes per year? Suppose you could only drive a small number of miles in your car each week? How would your life be different?

The exhibit asks us to imagine these questions and more as we learn what like was like to live during World War II in South Dakota. Every American was expected to do their part for the War effort which included rationing, buying war bonds and planting a victory garden. South Dakotans were involved on many levels.

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The display includes a number of windows which illustrate different aspects of World War II such as how the war effort affected the average American and how many people were involved in the military in Brown County and SD.  Artifacts like a Mother’s Flag, army dog tags, sand from Iwo Jima, rationing stamps, war bonds, pictures and letters from local servicemen, newspapers and authentic World War II posters complete the windows.

Pheasant Canteen - This exhibit is a re-creation of the original canteen which was located in the Chicago,Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad depot on north Main Street. 

pheasant canteen

It was opened on Aug. 19, 1943 as a project of the American Red Cross and the USO. Its purpose was to bring food and encouragement to servicemen and women who were traveling through Aberdeen toward training facilities or deployment. An average of 500 military a day passed through Aberdeen on 4-6 trains. The canteen was known for its pheasant sandwiches. Farmers first donated the pheasants for the sandwiches and later pheasant hunts were organized to aid the canteen. After 2 1/2 years of service, the “pheasant canteen” served its last meal on March 31, 1946.