Finding Black Hills Ghost Towns — Spokane, SD | Black Hills Travel Blog

Finding Black Hills Ghost Towns — Spokane, SD

  • Finding Black Hills Ghost Towns — Spokane, SD
    Finding Black Hills Ghost Towns — Spokane, SD
Friday, October 14, 2022
By : 
Black Hills and Badlands

While the history of westerners in the Black Hills of South Dakota may be a baby step in time, the history of the region runs deep. The ancient geology and allure of precious metals in the region brought settlers just over 120 years ago.

Remarkably, many of the towns and establishments these settlers called home still stand, and it's not hard to find these few walls and relics left. 

Spokane, SD, is one such ghost town. It still stands for people to explore and re-imagine the region's history.

You can find the remains of Spokane 16 miles from Custer, just north of Custer State Park’s northern border, and a short walk from Forest Service Rd 330. 

Photo by: Chad Coppess

In 1927, the town hit its stride with its biggest year ever, totaling $144,742 in profits which helped fund the school building. The old schoolhouse's bones can still be found for the time being, but the structure has begun to fall. However, its many holes and aged wood give compelling angles and now provide a lot of fun for photographers.

Photo by: Mike Gussiaas

By 1940, the mine and town were all but abandoned. Today, the town’s most intact structure is the manager’s house, which sits a short walk up a hill from the school house and other buildings. This would have been one of the last homes to be abandoned — possibly not until as recently as the 1970s.

With that in mind, not much of its structure appears to have been upgraded from its original incarnation, so plenty of its rustic charm remains.

The mine manager's house in Spokane, SD

My favorite thing about Spokane is something that could have inspired the classic Marshall Tucker Band song “Fire on the Mountain.” The song shares the tragic tale of an east coaster leaving the Carolinas in pursuit of the quick riches of a Western gold rush. The man packs up his family and heads west only to meet his ultimate demise as he’s “shot down in cold blood by a gun that carried fame, all for a useless and no good, worthless claim.”

On a hill in Spokane – between the manager’s home and the town fossils – there’s a little grave telling of the prospector buried there, who found an eerily similar fate near the turn of the century.

The view of the Black Hills from near the manager's house. Photo by: Mike Gussiaas

How to Get There

One of the main ways to find this old relic of a town is to stop at the parking area located on N Playhouse Road, 0.1 miles north of the intersection with Iron Mountain Road. A small pull-out parking area is located on the east side of N Playhouse Road, with a viewable gate that leads to the trail you'll take. It is a short and easy 5-10 minute walk from the parking lot to Spokane. If you have a GPS, the coordinates are 43.843159745295935, -103.38448486651917.

You can also park at Spokane Creek Cabins & Campground on Iron Mountain Road and take the trailhead just across Iron Mountain Road that starts next to a large boulder with a sign indicating “Ole Spokane Ghost Town.” This trail starts out narrow, crossing Spokane Creek, then widens. It is a 15-20 minute walk to Spokane and the coordinates are 43.836020640328435, -103.37713181372726.

And finally, there is a parking area on the north side of Timber Ridge Campground across from a wide rock trail heading up the hill between the camp on the right and a private home on the left. Spokane is located a 10 to 15 minute walk up the trail. The coordinates are 43.83855382507217, -103.38158144093593.

Remember to be cautious when you visit — these are crumbling structures built around an abandoned mine. Watch your step, and don’t climb in or on any existing structure. Besides staying safe, it's also a huge plus to continue the preservation of the town for future visitors. All that aside, exploring the ghost town is a beautiful hike and can provide several good hours of adventure for those wishing to take a step back in time.

Photo by: Chad Coppess