Black Hills SD: Deadwood – Mt Rushmore – Custer SP

The Black Hills

The Black Hills were named so by the Lakota Indians because the hills were so densely covered in pines and looked dark from a distance. The Black Hills are situated West of the vast expanse of plains in South Dakota. The area, occupied by the Lakota, was excluded from white settlement by treaty in 1868. However, all this changed when gold was discovered in the hills in 1874. The Lakota were pushed out of the area as the Black Hills Gold Rush resulted in a big onslaught of settlers, some of whom were moving from earlier gold rush sites in Colorado and Montana.

Main Street

Main Street, Deadwood

Founded immediately after the beginning of the Black Hills Gold Rush, Deadwood quickly grew into a lawless town of 5,000. This was the home of famous characters such as ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok and ‘Calamity’ Jane, and populated by mainly male gold pan handlers, saloons, opium dens, and brothels. Popularised by the TV series, Deadwood today takes advantage of its colorful past, preserving many of the names and locations, and staging shootouts for the benefit of tourists.

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  • Deadwood, South Dakota

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    Deadwood, South Dakota

  • Mount Rushmore

    One of the most photographed places in the world, what’s to be said? It was a beautiful warm blue-skyed day. Our favorite photo shows the original model inside the artist studio with the actual sculpture through the window.

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  • Mount Rushmore National Monument

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    Mount Rushmore National Monument, South Dakota

  • Custer State Park, Crazy Horse, and Custer City

    Wildlife LoopCuster State Park is very beautiful with rolling grasslands, grazing bison herds, and mountains of granite cliffs and pinnacles. In the 1930s, Peter Norbeck, a SD Governor, Senator, and naturalist, traveled throughout the park by horseback, laying out park facilities and roads, making sure people would come to enjoy the natural features and animals in the park. Norbeck also spearheaded the Congressional effort to raise financial support for Mt. Rushmore.

    This early bird found his wormWe stayed in a campground with a lake by the Visitor Center. Just like this robin, Colin was an early bird hoping to catch the dawn light photographing the area around the campsite, Family of Geese crossing the roadincluding a family of Canada Geese. They were so disgusted by Colin following them around the lake, that they walked across the road to the Visitor Center to complain.

    We toured the Wildlife Loop on our first day, seeing Pronghorn Antelopes, herds of Bison, Prairie Dogs and a group of ‘Begging Burros’ that demanded to be fed by passing cars. Cheryl was amused by the Pronghorn’s antlers which looks like musical clefs and by the antics of the Prairie Dogs. The Bison herd is managed and numbers over 1,300. We started calling them ‘raisins’; the hillside was so thick with dots it looked as if raisins had been sprinkled over them.

    The second day we drove Needles Highway, a narrow road that wound its way through the granite pinnacles and long rock-hewn tunnels. The tunnels were only just big enough to accommodate us. One tunnel was listed as 10’7″ high against our ‘nominal’ (measured by Colin) 10′. See movie below.

    Colin went off to climb the Cathedral Spires trail while Cheryl found a narrow parking space along the road (the trailhead parking was full) and stayed in the van, working and catching up on emails. Not 10 minutes went by when, next to the van’s open door, 5 climbers appeared with equipment and rope. Cheryl had a front row seat to see how a group of climbers made their assent of one of the pinnacles. When Colin returned, the climbers were just packing up to drive to another location for another climb. What nerves and stamina they displayed.

    Next we visited Crazy Horse Monument and Museum. This is a project in mid-completion, the head of Crazy Horse is ten times as large as the Mt. Rushmore heads while the extended arm and horse are still yet to be completed. This mountain carving is only supported by private funds, no government funds have been asked for nor will it ever. It seems fitting that this mountain carving, honoring one of the most recognized iconic American Indian figures, should take its place in the Black Hills, not far from Mt. Rushmore.

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  • Custer State Park

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    Custer State Park, South Dakota

  • Traversing Needles Highway Tunnel

    3 Comments on “Black Hills SD: Deadwood – Mt Rushmore – Custer SP

      • Very Good, Ben. Had to research that, memory’s failing. Beatles no less. Got the lyrics, looking for the music. Must chat soon. Dad

    1. Custer State Parc: magique. C’est ainsi que je me représente les Etats Unis avant, au temps des Indiens.
      From Cheryl: It is so much a part of the US history, both the good and the bad in populating a country and ignoring the Native Americans.

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