Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Ghosts of the Plains & Black Hills

There is something intriguing about old Western Ghost Towns, dilapidated windswept barns, and old mining camps, I get a real sense of adventure hunting down these historic relics of the past. Perhaps watching Western TV shows of yesteryear have painted a romantic picture of the Old West, or maybe it's the sense of isolation and peacefulness you feel when you come across these "windows to the past".

The Cheyenne & Black Hills Stage

Perhaps one of the most famous Stagecoach Routes in the west was Cheyenne, WY to Deadwood, SD, known as the Cheyenne & Black Hills Stage. This Stage Route operated between 1876-1886 during the Gold Rush period in the Black Hills, it was notorious for being attacked due to the Gold carried on the Coaches. By 1886 the railroad had finally pushed into central Wyoming and the Black Hills, and the demand for the Stage was no longer there.

There is little evidence left of the Stage route today, but a few reminders do exist. The Stagecoach Museum in Lusk, WY has on display one of the original Stagecoaches from the Cheyenne & Black Hills Stage, there is another one on display in Cody, WY, Buffalo Bill Cody bought one for use in his Western show.

Original Cheyenne & Black Hills Stagecoach

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Black Hills, SD (Northern Half)

On my previous travel post I covered the "Southern Half" of the Black Hills, the Southern half contains 5 of the 8 "Great" sights that made South Dakota famous (Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Jewel Cave, Custer State Park, and Wind Cave). The Northern Half of the Black Hills only contains 1 of the 8, that is Historic Deadwood, but there is plenty more to see than just Deadwood.

Deadwood is at the very northern end of the Black Hills, about 55 miles due north of Custer. This famous gold rush town was first established in the 1870's on what was Native American land, the town was renowned for lawlessness, gambling, prostitution, and plenty of murders. The most famous characters that called Deadwood home were Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, both are buried in the historic Mount Moriah Cemetery that sits above the town.

Wild Bill Hickok Grave

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Black Hills, SD (Southern Half)

The Black Hills of western South Dakota rise up out of the surrounding brown treeless prairie, like an oasis appearing in the middle of a desert. This small area of mountains rise up to 7,244 feet and get their name from the dense evergreen forest that covers them, the mountains remind me of a western equivalent of the "Blue Ridge Mountains".  The Black Hills have long been associated with the Native Americans, but the discovery of gold in 1874 by settlers brought in miners by the boatload, and the gold rush was on.

From my home base in Colorado, the Black Hills are a manageable 300+ mile drive, unfortunately, 250 miles of that drive is through the brown featureless wind blown prairie of Wyoming. You can break up the drive though and stop at some interesting historical points on the route, such as Fort Laramie and the Guernsey ruts (click for info from my blog). Entering the Black Hills from the south you would either be travelling on Highway 18 via Edgemont, or Highway 385/18 via Hot Springs. Edgemont is a very small town built around the railroad, it serves as a change over point for BNSF drivers, there is not much to the town, but the small museum is worth a quick stop, and the wonderful George S. Mickelson Bicycle Trail begins/ends here.

Covered Bridge at the Edgemont museum

Monday, September 11, 2017

Annual Scotfest, Estes Park

This festival is an annual tradition/pilgrimage in our household, or has been since the early 2000's at least. The Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival is now in its 41st year (as of 2017), and is the largest of its kind in the USA. The Festival is held annually over 3 days in September, costs $25 per day/per person, a real bargain!.

Celtic style entertainment

Monday, August 28, 2017

Rugbytown sevens

2017 marks the sixth year the annual Serevi RugbyTown sevens competition has taken place at Infinity Park, Glendale, Colorado. 20 teams take part in this 3-day event, including military teams from the USA, UK, and international teams from Fiji, UK, Cayman Islands, and US league teams.

RugbyTown 7's, Glendale, CO