Day 14 of our summer trip continues here in the Black Hills, about 20 miles west of Rapid City, SD. We left Lolo, MT and spent a couple of nights in Sheridan, WY. Before arriving in Sheridan, we stopped to visit the Little Bighorn National Battlefield site.
As everyone knows, this is the place where George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry were defeated by the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians in June of 1876. Basing his battle strategy on some bad recon by his Crow scouts, Custer and his men rode into their last nightmare, with 700 troops against the Indians 2500 warriors. The battle lasted less than an hour, with the Cavalry sustaining losses of over 250 men, including Custer himself. I’ll be reading more about the Sioux wars when we return. They’ve done a nice job presenting this battle here, including a very nice tribute to the Indians who were there just trying to preserve their way of life. Also at this site is the Custer National Cemetery. What bone fragments they found of Custer were buried in West Point, NY.
Sheridan, WY is a nice town to visit. We spent two nights there to get caught up on laundry and grocery shopping. We visited Trails End, a giant house built in 1913 by the well known local cattle rancher John Kendrick and his wife Eula. Kendrick went on to be Governor of Wyoming.
Next, we headed into the Black Hills of South Dakota. We picked a spot near Silver City, SD, right on Highway 385, about halfway between Deadwood and Mt. Rushmore. Tuesday, we drove up and drove the loop between Lead (that’s LEED) City, through the Spearfish Canyon, stopping at Roughlock Falls and Spearfish, before arriving in Deadwood for lunch. Back just before Little Bighorn, Custer and his men passed through this area and spread rumors of finding gold, which started the boom that built Deadwood. If you are a fan of the TV series (as I am), you know about the famous people of this town: Seth Bullock, Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and others. It was OK to visit, but very touristy. If you want to gamble and drink beer all day, this is the place for you. It reminded me a lot of Virginia City, NV.
Wednesday, we took another loop through the south part of the Black Hills, and drove through Custer State Park on our way to Mt. Rushmore National Monument. We went through some very narrow roads and tunnels, saw some bison, and traveled on the famous Iron Mountain Road, which has about 300 curves and some cool pigtail bridges. Mt. Rushmore is very awesome and is presented nicely with cut granite buildings and a great museum explaining the creation of this sculpture. Crazy gift shop and good ice cream, too! The vanilla was supposedly Thomas Jefferson’s own recipe.
That’s our summer trip update for now. The weather has been amazingly cool lately, but I doubt that trend will hold. Tomorrow we head to Fort Thompson, SD for one night, and then into Sioux Falls to visit some of Jane’s cousins. I’ll try to post something once we get to Madison, WI and get everyone caught up. Thanks for visiting my blog!