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

Sunday, October 29, 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