Old West History
As one of the last frontiers on the continent, South Dakota’s history is young and robust. As late as 1874, the Black Hills was still an unknown blank spot on the map. Statehood came in 1889, just 119 years ago. Here are museums that focus on the life and times of those early days.
The days of the Indian Wars are illustrated at Fort Meade Cavalry Museum near Sturgis, at Custer County's 1881 Courthouse Museum and at The Journey in Rapid City. Adams Museum and House are two separate showcases. The free museum recounts the gold rush to Deadwood and Adams House is a restored manor where the prosperous gentry populated Deadwood’s Presidential neighborhood.
The subsequent civilization of Dakota Territory included hard rock miners, gritty railroaders, sod-busting farmers and Open Range cattle barons. Their stories are found at High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish, Tri-State Museum in Belle Fourche or Grand River Museum in Lemmon. Two re-creations of frontier settlements are 1880 Town near Murdo and Four Mile Ghost Town near Custer. Restorations include the Old Governor's Mansion in Rapid City and Lead’s new (old) Black Hills & Ft. Pierre Railroad Roundhouse.