Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

Tourists traversing the Black Hills via automobile circa 1915.
Tourists traversing the Black Hills via automobile circa 1915.
Gossage, A., Gossage, J. B., & Wells, A. F. (1915). Holiday Greetings Rapid City, SD With Resources Unlimited the Home of Opportunity. Rapid City Daily Journal.
May 24, 2017

IN HISTORY: Coalition of Black Hills Leaders Discuss Development of Tourism and Agriculture

In May 1912, the Rapid City Business Men’s club called a meeting to discuss the development of central organization to develop tourism in the region, as originally reported in The Mitchell Capital.  The group was presided by C.B. Hunt of Wasta and H.B. Schlichting of Deadwood served as the group’s vice president. Board members hailed from Butte, Meade, Pennington, Custer, Fall River, and Lawrence Counties. The association’s primary goal was working together on tourism and agriculture in the region, rather than each county attempting each venture separately.

South Dakota Immigration Commissioner John Deets detailed plans that highlighted the “latent possibilities west of the river,” including drawing tourists from eastern South Dakota. In order to lure visitors into the area, the development of roads through Rapid City, Sturgis, Deadwood, Lead and even to Yellowstone were all in the works at the time of the meeting. The group planned to lobby state legislators to encourage them to also promote the development quality roads in the Hills.

After roads were developed, plans included construction of hotels in scenic canyons, with advertisements conveyed via rail line. Group members also encouraged all conferences held within the state to be held in the Black Hills, with each convention to be held in a different Black Hills Community.

Agriculture was also a prime concern discussed at the meeting. The association discussed additional research to determine the best ways to cultivate the estimated 2.25 million acres they deemed fertile.

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