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Black Hills Central RR, Storybook Island

Adventurers in the Rockies


Chapter Fourteen

Black Hills Central Railroad, Storybook Island, SD and

Ponderosa Ranch, Crawford, NE

July 14, 2016

Thursday

by

Robin Bowers


Text and Photos by Author

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.


Comments are appreciated at...yr.mmxx@gmail.com


 

       Chris G., Chris P., and I checked out of the Sundowner Inn then went across the street to a filling station with a snack shop. Our breakfast was coffee and some of those delicious snacks found in every gas station across this land. We then left Newcastle and the Wyoming border on US 16 heading east. After crossing into South Dakota and the Black Hills National Forest, we continued on US 16 to the town of Custer City. Along the way the scenery was spectacular and ever changing.
 

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2877

Custer City, SD


2878

     Harbach Centennial Park is a 1.14 acre park located on Washington Street between 6th and 7th Street, across from the Custer Chamber of Commerce with a small creek with fish, bridge that crosses the creek, memorial trees, caboose rail car, and trail head for the Mickelson Trail.

    The park was built about 30 years ago as part of a city improvement in the floodplain.

    The109-mile-long George S. Mickelson Trail was originally the Burlington Northern line than took trains from Edgemont, SD to the northern Black Hills and the gold mines of Deadwood area.  The trail traverses the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. The line was abandoned in 1983. A group of outdoor enthusiasts recognized the trails potential, and with the support of then Governor Mickelson, it became the states' first rails to trails project.


2880

BN caboose 12263 on display

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2883

Custer Area Chamber of Commerce.

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2885

In 1874 Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer led the 7th Cavalry on a scientific expedition into the Black Hills to seek out a site for a future military post and to explore the terrain. The party found gold on the banks of French Creek and also discovered the beauty of the southern Black Hills.

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2888

Crazy Horse Memorial


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    Crazy Horse doesn't attract the same attention as Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, just 17 miles away, but the two are inextricably linked. Had it not been for Gutzon Borglum's enormous sculpture of four exalted white leaders, Crazy Horse never would have happened.
    In 1939, determined to make a statement of their own, Lakota elders approached Polish American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski with a request to carve a mountain for them. My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes too, "Chief Henry Standing Bear wrote to Ziolkowski. The hero they chose was Crazy Horse, the Oglala Sioux leader who helped lead his people to victory over Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer's forces at Little Bighorn in 1878, only to be stabbed to death in the next year by a guard after surrendering to the US Army.


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If and when it's completed, the memorial will lay claim to being the largest sculpture in the world: 641 feet wide and 563 feet high. The nine -story-high face of Crazy Horse is complete.

2899

After our drive by of Crazy Horse, we continued north on US 16- US 385 to Hill City.

Black Hills Central Railroad, Hill City, SD

2920
 
Home of the 1880 Train and the South Dakota State Railroad Museum.

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2901

Black Hills Central Railroad Whitcomb loco 1 built in 1940;

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2905

South Dakota Railroad Museum


2906

The unmarked railroad equipment of the South Dakota Railroad Museum.

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2909

Black Hills Central Railroad coach Addie Camp.

2910

An express car.

2912

Baldwin steam engine 5 builder number 139853 built in 1922.

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2917


2918


2921

Summer finds motorcycles and their riders flocking to South Dakota.

Black Hills Central Railroad Preservation history

    The Black Hills Central Railroad is a heritage railroad that operates in South Dakota, United States. It currently operates the 1880 Train on the former Keystone Branch of the Burlington Northern Railroad between Hill City, South Dakota and Keystone, South Dakota. This railroad line was originally built by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad as a mining railroad for gold in the Black Hills. It reached Keystone on January 20, 1900 and was later used to haul equipment for carving nearby Mount Rushmore.

    In 1957, William Heckman and Robert Freer started the Black Hills Central Railroad which began operating a tourist passenger excursion train service on this line. In 1972, the Black Hills flood destroyed the last mile of the Burlington Northern/Black Hills Central line in Keystone, which was later restored in 2001.

    The Black Hills Central Railroad restores early twentieth century-era locomotives and train cars and has been featured on television shows such as the Gunsmoke episode "Snow Train", "General Hospital", and the TNT mini-series, "Into the West". It also appeared in the movie "Orphan Train".

    Trains operate between early May and early October over the scenic 9.5-mile line.

Preserved equipment

The BHCR operates rare, well-preserved, and operational steam locomotives:

Prescott & Northwestern (Caddo & Choctaw) Baldwin 2-6-2 7, built 1919.
PT Baldwin 2-6-2T 103, built 1922.
PT Baldwin 2-6-2T tank locomotive 104, built 1926.
Rayonier (Weyerhaeuser) Baldwin 2-6-6-2T 110, built 1928.

The Black Hills Central Railroad also has a diesel locomotive on its engine roster:

EMD GP9 63 formerly Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O).
Whitcomb Locomotive Works 80DE5 6657, built 1943.



2923

Power for our trip today, Black Hills Central Railroad 2-6-6-2T #110 built in 1928 for the Weyerhauser Lumber Company in Vail Washington.


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2927

Black Hills Central Railroad 2-6-2T is the sister to BHCR 110 and is under restoration and expected to be in service in 2018.

2929

  Chicago & Northwestern coach Hillyo 10800 is a Drover Waycar and is one of only two cars still remaining in the United States.

2930

Black Hills Central Railroad coach Keystone.

2931

Engine House in background.

Black Hills Central Railroad 2-6-2 T 104 was built in 1926 for the Silver Falls Timber Company.

2933

Chris G. asked the 110 engineer if we could go see the other engine at the shop and he said to go there and find Scotty which we did and he was inviting and hosted a great tour.

2934

Inside the Engine House.

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We thanked Scotty for allowing us in here for a nice tour and then we set up to photograph the diesel train with Black Central Railroad GP-9 63 pulling its train into the Hill City Station.

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2944

Burlington wooden caboose 10866 built in 1906.

2945

View from Highliner Snack Shoppe.


2947


Black Hills Central Railroad GP-9 63 pulling its train into the Hill City station.


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2949

    The Black Hills Central Railroad diesel train returned to Hill City from Keystone. Once their passengers had detrained we would board this train for the first time in our lives. Our train had a consist of Black Hills Central Railroad 110, Edward Gillette coach, Blue Bird coach, Red Fern open air coach, Oreville coach, Barnet Canyon coach, Harney Canyon open air coach, Mystic open air coach and Battle Creek coach. Once everyone was on the train we left Hill City for Keystone with us all on new mileage.



2952


1880 ticket

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2960


2957t


1880 map


2963

Harney Peak is the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains at 7,242 feet tall.

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2970t

The Good Luck Tungsten Mine.

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2974

    Narrow gauge wye train at Oblivion. While the original railroad was standard gauge, a third rail was added at the start of this tourist train and Oblivion was the eastern destination from Hill City in those days.

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2977

Elkhorn Mountain.

2983

A slip and slide at the Judson Rapist Camp.

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The engine performs a blow down at this point of the trip.

2986

  Arriving in Keystone.

2988

Loco moving from the front to the rear of train so as to be the point on the return trip.

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    The engine ran around the train after taking on water. This is when the trouble started. The steam line to the braking system was blocked so we could not use Black Hills Central Railroad 110 on the trip back to Hill City. Black Hills Central Railroad GP-9 63 will come from Hill City to Keystone to save us. We would depart once the engine arrived sometime around 12:30 PM. They turned the passengers loose on Keystone and Chris P. went for food while Chris G.  and I stayed aboard


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Black Hills Central Railroad 110 was placed on the now rear of the train to get it back to Hill City and we waited for departure.

2999

At 12:27 PM Black Hills Central Railroad 63 arrived in Keystone and once all passengers had returned the train left Keystone.


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3005


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3013

The white building is a Sears and Roebuck house kit from 1912.

3015



3016



3018

The steam engine is trailing along the rear of our train.

3021

Black Hills wildlife, a deer and her fawn. We returned to Hill City and it had been an interesting trip aboard the Black Hills Central Railroad. We had lunch at the Highliner Snack Shoppe. We then left Hill City to Keystone over the route we would have chased the steam train had it run another trip which it did not. We got to Keystone then turned onto US 16A.

3022

Black Hills Central Railroad 2-6-2, 7 is the movie star of this railroad having been used in the film Orphan Train (TV Movie 1979.)

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3026

Shortly after leaving Hill City, Chris G. announced that due to the break down of loco 110 and the subsequent lateness in arriving at the Hill City station, we would have to cancel our stop at Mt. Rushmore to order to get back on schedule. Both Chris P. and I understood the situation but we were very disappointed as we both were looking forward to seeing the mountain.

mt
        rushmore

So as near as I can tell, we were somewhere near this place by the fence on our way to Rapid City.


Storybook Island, Rapid City, SD

Storybrook Island has colorful, detailed settings that depict nursery rhymes and fairy tales.

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Silly boy.

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Homestake Mining Company 18 inch gauge 0-4-0  24 is a compressed air locomotive.

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3033

South Dakota Cement Plant 0-4-0T, built by H.K. Porter Co. Pittsburgh in 1911 as 4979.

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3037

Chris G. said this is not a real train because it lacks tracks.

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Leaving Storybook Island we stopped at Dollar General for some supplies and then crossed the street to a Safeway for food for our two night stay at the Ponderosa Ranch. I use my Von's card from So. California and received my shoppers discount here. From here we were on our way to the ranch.

3044

The Milwaukee Road freight house in Rapid City. We then went east to the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern rail yards.

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Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern SD-40-2 6431.

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Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern SD-40-2 3429 and SD-40-2 6432.

3055

Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern snow plow 1001 with 1002 in background.

3057t

Another set of Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern power here. From here we drove to Dakota Jct.

3061

Nebraska Northwestern Railroad SD-9 303 at Dakota Jct. We then continued south on US 385 to Chardon, NE stopping at a Subway store to pick up dinner to have at the ranch. From here we went west on US 20 to Crawford, NE

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At Crawford we went south on Rt 2-71 about 2.5 miles to Sawlog Road.

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Our first dirt road after Rt 2-71on the way to our bunk house.

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Our next road on the way to our nights rest.

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View from our bunk house porch while we eat our dinner.

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Back of our bunk house with kitchen window on left and bath on right. Chris P is checking out the clouds and sunset.

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Ranch house.

3095

Bunk room window with front porch on right.

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3100

Chris P. getting acquainted with one of the ranch residents.

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Thanks for reading.

Next Chapter Fifteen -  Carhenge, Alliance; Crawford Hill and Ponderosa Ranch, NE


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Text and Photos by Author

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.

Comments appreciated at .... yr.mmxx@gmail.com