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Our Honeymoon Newcastle to Alliance Black Hills Central Railroad 7/13/2020

by Chris Guenzler

We woke up at the Pines Country Inn and after preparing for our day, we left Newcastle, Wyoming and headed for Custer, South Dakota.

Elizabeth making her first trip to South Dakota. After that, we had breakfast at Our Place in Custer. From here we then made the short trip up to Hill City and parked our car in the parking lot. Our first stop here would also Elizabeth's first visit at this unique place.

The South Dakota State Railroad Museum which is next door to the Black Hills Central Railroad.

Minneapolis and St. Louis caboose 1208.

A railroad display.

The HO model railroad inside the museum building. After this, we went outside to see the equipment the museum has collected. Unfortunately, there are no numbers or anything to tell the visitor what they are since they are in need of restoration.

Burlington Northern caboose 11454.

Silver Falls Timber Company Baldwin steam engine 5 builder number 139853 built in 1922. From here we picked up our tickets and then bought T-shirts, pin, mug and Christmas ornament.

Black Hills Central Railroad GP9 63.

Black Hills Central 110 would be the power of our train today. I hoped in my heart that today would be better than the 2016 trip when we arrived at Keystone and the engine had brake problems. The GP9 63 had to come over and pull us back. We went to the shop and had a look inside.

Keystone coach, formerly Oregon Electric and Pacific Great Eastern. We then asked if we could see the other two steam and the gentleman said, "If you are quick, yes".

Black Hills Central 2-6-6-2T 108 purchased from the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie, Washington.

Black Hills Central 2-6-2T 104 originally built for the Silver Falls Timber Company and Peninsula Terminal Railroad in Oregon.

Black Hills Central 2-6-2 7 now on display as it can only pull four cars.

Black Hills Central 1 on display by the highway.

Black Hills Central GP9 63 and Black Hills Central 110.

Black Hills Central 110 backing from the engine house.

Black Hills Central 110 running by us.

Black Hills Central 110 doing a blow down.

Black Hills Central 110 backing down to the train.

Black Hills Central 110 on the point of our train to Keystone. We went and sat at a table in the shade and the conductor approached us and asked if we were from Trainweb and I replied yes. Then he sent over Nate from the Black Hills Central Railroad who talked with us about the COVID-19 virus, things the railroad has had to do that has worked and not worked as well as some history of the passenger cars. He was a very interesting person to talk with and told us of a special double- headed steam trip with 110 and 108 on October 3rd, 2020. He told us to enjoy our trip. At 9:45 AM, we boarded the train, taking our assigned seats that we had chosen on their website when we bought the tickets.

I was back in the Mystic car for my second trip aboard this railroad and Elizabeth would be making her first trip.

Black Hills Railroad Whitcomb Diesel 1 built for the Department of Defense. It was purchased from the Black Hills Power and Light.

At 10:00 AM, the train departed for Keystone passing the shop complex.

Taking the first curve of the railroad.

At the foot of the grade.

Elizabeth aboard the Black Hills Central Railroad train with her mask off.

After climbing the four to six percent grade, the tracks levelled out.

Taking a curve to the left.

The miner's house from the Black Hills gold rush.

Crossing a valley.

Black Elk Peak, formerly Harney Peak, elevation 7,242 feet.

Taking the grade to Oblivion.

The train has reached Oblivion.

The wye of the original Black Hills Central Railroad narrow gauge operation at Oblivion.

Elkorn Mountain, elevation 6,200 feet.

Curving to the left.

Curving to the right.

Crossing a trestle on the way to Keystone.

The engine did a blow down as we headed east.

Curving through the forest.

Crossing another highway crossing. There are twenty road crossings on this route.

Coming into Keystone. Once the train stopped, I got off and made my way in front of everyone and used the bathroom in the station before returning to the train. Elizabeth got off and went down to where the engine was being watered.

The engine running around the train for the return trip. Elizabeth then returned and we sat until it was time to return to Hill City.

The train crossing the first trestle west of Keystone.

The train making the first big curve west of Keystone.

Crossing another of the highways.

Crossing a trestle.

The train took another curve.

Crossing another trestle on the return trip.

Yet another road crossing.

Crossing another trestle.

Crossing another road.

The train took two more curves to the right.

The train at Oblivion.

Another one of the mines along the railroad.

Crossing the next road along the route.

Climbing Tin Mill Hill.

Descending Tin Mill Hill into Hill City.

Black Hills Central 7 welcomed us back to Hill City. We let everyone get off the train before us and before we left, Elizabeth wanted a picture of the passenger car Oreville. Once we got back to the car I told her that we had time before the next train left to go to Mount Rushmore. When we got there we learned that my National Park Pass was not valid at this park which I thought was ridiculous. We took a ticket to park then walked up the path into the Memorial Pavilion, passing through the gates and walking to get a clear shot of Mount Rushmore.

Mount Rushmore.

Elizabeth and Mount Rushmore. We then left the parking structure and had to pay $10 by credit card in order to leave. The exiting at this park was poorly designed and you had to wait to be able to leave your parking area after paying.

One last picture of Mount Rushmore as we drove off. We drove back to Hill City and drove to the spot that I wanted to photograph.

The Black Hills Central 1:15 PM departure left Hill City for Keystone. Next we went to Subway to pick up some lunch which we took with us and drove down to the Crazy Horse Monument. We paid $12 apiece to visit this park.

Our first picture was through the glass of the welcome center.

Next we found the outdoor area which to me gave a better view of the mountain.

Elizabeth and the Crazy Horse Monument carving. We left here and drove US Highway 16 to US 385 which we took to South Dakota Highway 17 then US Highway 18 to Edgemont.

Burlington Northern caboose 11381 on display in Edgemont. We took Highway 471 east and then Highway 71 to Ardmore.

BNSF 6237 West with DPUs BNSF 9262 6152 and at Ardmore, South Dakota.

BNSF DPUs 9262 6152 and at Ardmore, South Dakota.

Elizabeth makes her first time in Nebraska. From here we went to Belmont on Crawford Hill. We took Nebraska Highway 2 south.

The only railroad tunnel in Nebraska eastern portal.

Elizabeth at the Belmont Tunnel.

The western portal of the Belmont Tunnel.

Elizabeth at Belmont, Nebraska.

Morning photo locations at Belmont.

Late afternoon photo locations at Belmont. From here we drove to Alliance for two photo locations.

CB&Q 4-6-0 719 in Alliance.

CB&Q caboose 13701. Next I took Elizabeth to Carhenge. This exhibit is based on Stonehenge in England.

Carhenge in Alliance. We then drove to the Alliance Hotel and Suites and checked in. ELizabeth got us Arby's for dinner then we wrote the story and relaxed.