On November 9, 1992, South Dakota officially dropped its monicker as “The Sunshine State” and became known as “The Mount Rushmore State.” As chronicled by the Black Hills Pioneer, then State Representative Chuck Mateer of Belle Fourche introduced legislation in January of 1992 to change the state’s nickname. Opponents of the legislation including then State Representative Mary Edelen of Vermillion argued that it would make non-residents believe South Dakota to be “frozen tundra.”
South Dakota had several nicknames prior to being dubbed both “The Sunshine State” and “The Mount Rushmore State.” Perhaps the state’s earliest nickname was the “Coyote State,” which is believed to have been inspired by a horse race rather than the wild animal. In 1863, a solider from the 6th Iowa Cavalry and another from Company A of the Dakota Cavalry raced horses at Fort Randall. The Iowa soldier’s horse lost by a long shot, which cause an onlooker to remark “that the Dakota horse ran like a coyote,” thus inspiring the state’s nickname.
About 30 years later, South Dakota acquired a new nickname during a drought. The state’s first governor, Arthur C. Mellette, had embarked on a trip to Chicago in search of aid for his state when he ran into a newspaperman and personal friend, Moses P. Handy. Handy asked the governor how his state was faring, to which Mellette replied “Oh, South Dakota is a swinged cat, better than she looks.” Accounts of the incident indicated that Mellette meant “singed” or “burnt” when he said “swinged.” Shortly thereafter, the Chicago Inter Ocean newspaper published a story citing Mellette “governor of the swinged cat state.”
Additional historical nicknames assigned to South Dakota can be viewed on the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation’s website.
The Rapid City Journal recently announced that the final publication date for both the Meade County Times-Tribune and Butte County Post will be November 8. On November 9, the Journal will begin publishing a Northern Hills page.
Following the announcement, the Belle Fourche City Council approved an ordinance to designate the Black Hills Pioneer as the city’s legal newspaper. As the city’s legal newspaper, the Pioneer will publish all of Belle Fourche’s legal notices, which include items such as minutes from governmental meetings and bids for construction projects.
The Black Hills Pioneer and Rapid City Journal are not affiliated.
In his third public presentation, Mayor Steve Allender presented two options to bring the Barnett Arena in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to KOTA News, the third presentation of options for the arena was added due to high turnout. Another presentation will be given on October 19th at the Civic Center.
For a full history of the Civic Center in Rapid City, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s issue hub page.
At the urging of longtime Native Sun News editor Tim Giago, Governor George Mickelson proclaimed 1990 as the Year of Reconciliation to honor of the 100th anniversary of Wounded Knee. The Year of Reconciliation was intended to health the relationships between the state and tribal governments in South Dakota.
However, that was not the only challenge Giago posed to Governor Mickelson. Giago also requested that Governor Mickelson take up an effort to nix Columbus Day in South Dakota in favor of Native Americans’ Day. With a strong lobbying effort, the South Dakota Legislature was swayed to rename the day.
On October 8, 1990 Mickelson invited Giago to celebrate the Year of Reconciliation at the Crazy Horse Memorial. The event also commemorated the first Native Americans’ Day, which would be held later that week. South Dakota was the first state in the nation to rename Columbus Day in favor of celebrating the rich histories and cultures of American Indians.
Today, several states and municipalities have chosen to rename Columbus Day, with the most recent additions including the state of Vermont as well as Phoenix, Arizona and Denver, Colorado. Meanwhile, the states of Alaska and Hawaii have never officially celebrated Columbus Day. Alaska officially adopted an Indigenous Peoples Day in 2015, while Hawaii has celebrated Discoverer’s Day, in remembrance of the Polynesian explorers who originally settled on the islands.
The first public meeting to discuss the future of the Barnett Arena was recently held by Mayor Steve Allender, reports KOTA News. Two plans were presented to the public. One plan would remodel the current arena at a cost of $25 million and would bring the complex into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The alternate proposal would include building a new facility with modern staging for $130 million.
Funds for a new facility would come in part from the Rapid City Vision Fund, as the city council has set aside a portion of Vision Fund money for renovations and/or remodeling to the arena for the past two years. Mayor Allender indicated that he favored a new facility for the first time. The next public meeting concerning the future of the Civic Center will be held on September 25.
United Way of the Black Hills held their annual Day of Caring fundraiser on Thursday, September 7th. Approximately 1,000 volunteers contributed to 79 different projects, reports the Rapid City Journal and United Way of the Black Hills Executive Director Jamie Toennies. The volunteers assisted Rapid City businesses and residents with yard work and landscaping projects.
While the number of volunteers was down from 2016, the 92 teams of volunteers are estimated to have had $80,000 worth of positive economic impact.
United Way of the Black Hills has three more Day of Caring events scheduled for other Black Hills communities through the month of September in Custer, Spearfish, and Sturgis. The fundraising goal for the 2017 year for the organization is about $2,323,000 with Rapid City comprising nearly $2,000,000 of that goal.
To learn more about the Day of Caring, visit United Way of the Black Hills website. Not available for the remaining Day of Caring events? Visit our partner 211's Volunteer Database to find other volunteer opportunities in your community.
The Rapid City Council has voted to keep funding going for two nonprofits listed by Mayor Allender for possible cuts, but others are still moving forward. According to the Rapid City Journal, the Journey Museum and Allied Arts Fund were removed from the list of targeted nonprofits. Unfortunately, the council approved budget cuts to the Retired Senior Volunteer Program as well as the Human Services Community Investments Fund. View the budget agenda here.
To read up on past and current news on the government of Rapid City, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive.
For more information on the government and citizenship of the area, be sure to check out the Black Hills Knowledge Network Community Profiles.
Mary Corbine with Feeding South Dakota explains realistically a person can walk one-quarter to one-half mile while carrying groceries, at most, according to national statistics. The closing of these three grocery stores leaves a large gap in the center of Rapid City.
For more information about food in the Black Hills, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive. The Rapid City Collective Impact Group is investigating food security in the area and has details on Facebook.
As the 77th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally ended this past weekend, Department of Transportation officials have reported that this year's rally was nearly 4.5 percent bigger over last years event. According to the Rapid City Journal, counters indicated that over 376.000 rallygoers came into Sturgis this year, as opposed to just under 360,000 last year. While the calm and cool weather was appreciated by all, accidents and motorcyle-related deaths were up as well with the uptick in attendance numbers.
To read past and current news articles related to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive.
For more information on the Rally itself, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network Issue Hub page.
Hill City is known for being “The Heart of the Hills,” and as one would expect from a town with such a moniker, it has had its ups and downs. Founded in 1876, Hillyo, as its first residents called it, was the second settlement to spring up in the Black Hills during the gold rush of the 1870s and the first settlement to be founded in what would become Pennington County. Prospectors traveled to the area to try their luck in the nearby Spring Creek. However, once word spread about richer finds found in the Northern Hills near the new town of Deadwood, the town was nearly abandoned. By one report, the only residents that stuck around were “one man and his dog.”
This was not the end of the resilient mountain town, however. In the mid-1880s another profitable metal was found in the hills surrounding the small town: tin. The discovery of this soft metal brought wealthy investors to the area and sparked a major boom for the town. The Harney Peak Tin Mining, Milling, and Manufacturing Company was the prominent group hoping to strike it rich on this soft metal and made Hill City its headquarters. The company and its many English investors bought over a thousand tin mining claims and built The Harney Peak Hotel to house their visiting businessmen in luxury. Thousands of rowdy miners came from all around to work in the new mines and mills which contributed to Hill City having a reputation as “a town with a church on each end and a mile of hell in between.”
The discovery of tin, as well as the construction of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad through the town in the 1890s, put Hill City on the map; but unfortunately, this welcomed boom would be short lived. Tin production was lower than expected and investors pulled their money from the venture. Many of the thousands of miners that flocked to the town left, again. Miners would come and go as tin fluctuated in popularity, growing and shrinking the mining community over the years.
Today, Hill City is a popular destination for enthusiasts of all kinds including hikers, climbers, rock hounds, and history buffs. This quaint mountain town continues to focus on being a cultural and artistic hearth for hills communities.
Arts & Culture
The attributes that describe Hill City are “Small Town, Big Art,” as the Hill City Arts Council says. The Hill City Arts Council promotes the arts in providing year-round activities for children and adults as well as contributing different art pieces to beautify the town.
As you walk downtown, you will notice many different places to appreciate local art. Warriors Work & Best West Gallery and The Sandy Swallow Art Gallery feature many different Native American inspired artworks.
ArtForms Gallery is a local artist co-op owned and operated by twenty different Black Hills artists and features work in many different mediums.
Dakota Nature & Art uses the natural beauty found in the rocks, minerals, and plants of the hills to create stunning jewelry and other work.
Jon Crane Gallery & Custom Framing provides vivid photographs of the hills landscape.
Hill City has multiple museums that tell visitors the story of the Central Hills.
The Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, Inc has an incredible natural history museum filled with a plethora of dinosaur bones and other fossils as well as fascinating rocks and minerals.
Hill City is home to the South Dakota State Railroad Museum, telling the story of the development of rail systems in the hills and the rest of the state. Guests are also able to take a ride on the 1880 Train that regularly travels between Hill City and Keystone.
During the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps. to provide job experience to thousands of young men across the country. This program was a great benefit to the Black Hills and helped construct many of the lakes, roads and other structures that help visitors enjoy the hills today. The CCC Museum of South Dakota in Hill City help tell the story of these hard-working men.
Just outside of Hill City, on Deerfield Road, visitors can learn about the rich gold mining history of the hills at Wade’s Gold Mill. Visitors can take a tour through old mining and milling equipment and even take a chance at panning for gold.
The Hill City Public Library is located at 341 Main Street and is open to all visitors year-round. The Library also boasts a large collection of local history in books and memorabilia. Activities for children and adults are provided by the library such as “Pre-school Story Time” and the “Hill City Readers’ Group.”
The library’s hours of operation are available on the library’s website.
Historical Photos and Documents Online
The South Dakota State Historical Society Digital Archives has many different photographs from different times in Hill City’s history.
Each year, Keystone—a small town of less than five-hundred permanent residents—sees millions of visitors from around the world pass through on their way to witness one of America’s prized national memorials: Mount Rushmore. However, the history of this little mountain town spans well before the carving of the four stone presidents.
As with many towns in the Black Hills, gold was the catalyst for Keystone. At the height of the Black Hills gold rush, miners discovered gold just east of present day Keystone along Battle Creek. More and more gold seekers began to try their luck along the creek and soon the town of Harney, located southeast of Keystone, was established.
Panning in the creek became increasingly difficult as miners had to sift through more and more gravel to get to the pay dirt. By the early 1880s many of the miners left thinking that their claims had played out. However, three men named A.J. Simmons, William Claggett, and T.H. Russell believed they could use powerful hydraulics to dig through the waste rock. These men formed the Harney Hydraulic Gold Mining Company and spent nearly $2,000,000 building an infrastructure of flumes and sluices to work nearly six miles of gold claims. One flume, that transported water from both Grizzly Bear and Battle Creeks, was 700 feet long and suspended nearly 200 feet above the ground. Unfortunately, their ambitious scheme never yielded a profit and the men sold the company and abandoned the project.
In the later years, many other mines would spring up in the Keystone area. The Etta Mine was a rich tin mine that was later bought by the Harney Peak Tin Mining, Milling, and Manufacturing Company, headquartered in Hill City. It was abandoned after the company could not make a profit but was later discovered that the mine was even richer in lithium and would be mined sporadically until the mid-1900s. The Keystone Mine, for which the town received its name, was discovered in 1891 by William Franklin and was known for its rich gold ore. It would later be combined with the nearby Holy Terror Mine, also founded by Franklin and playfully named after his wife. The dangers of working these mines, however, would eventually cause the closing of their operations.
It was with this abundance of mines that the town Keystone began to take shape. Workers built houses and soon other businesses came to support the townspeople living there. Saloons, hotels, churches, a school, and even multiple town newspapers were developed. The town wasn’t without hardship, however. Many of the local mines closed or were mined very sporadically which made it hard for residents to stay in the town.
However, in the 1920s and man with an ambitious dream came to the area with the intention of carving Americas history into the side of a nearby mountain named Mount Rushmore. This man was Gutzon Borglum. Borglum had been looking for an opportunity to make a name for himself and he found it at Rushmore. His plan was to carve the faces of past American presidents that made significant contributions to American history. He decided on Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.
Borglum would need help to accomplish this huge task, however, and locals answered the call. Businesses invested in the project because they wanted to profit off the tourism it would bring. Many local miners provided the manpower because they were familiar with drilling and blasting rock, even though this work was 500 feet above the ground rather than under it. It took fourteen years and about 400 men and women to complete the work. The influx of money and people kept the town of Keystone alive.
Today, Keystone is lively and filled with tourists during the summer and is a quiet mountain town in the winter. The local attractions and businesses provide visitors from around the world with a fun and exciting experience unique to the Black Hills and also gives families a chance to learn the history and culture of the area and snap plenty of classic family photos.
Arts & Culture
Keystone is the home of multiple skilled artists eager to show the common art aficionado their craft. Dahls Chainsaw Art is one of them. Jarret Dahl is a skilled sculptor who uses his chainsaw to carve bears, eagles, and other creative images out of local ponderosa pines.
Black Hills Glassblowers is located on Old Hill City Road and is ran by Peter Hopkins and Gail Damin. These artists shape red-hot, molten glass into beautiful creations using their own breath and incredible skill. During the summer months, visitors have the opportunity to ponder their creations and witness the glassblowing process for themselves.
Keystone is dedicated to telling history and culture of the area and the United States. Many different museums and interpretive centers provide visitors with this story.
Keystone Area Historical Society is dedicated to the preservation of buildings and artifacts that contribute to the historical significance of Keystone and the surrounding area.
The Keystone Historical Museum is located in an old Victorian schoolhouse and tells of Keystone’s mining history as well as boasts a collection of artifacts once owned by Carrie Ingalls from the stories told in “Little House on the Prairie” who lived in Keystone for most of her life. The museum also manages a walking tour of the town with information provided by signs and a free brochure.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial has many resources that provide the history of Mount Rushmore and of the United States. The Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center houses many artifacts and interpretive information on the Memorial an the presidents it depicts. Also found there is the Sculptors Studio which is located along the Presidential Trail and has Gutzon Borglum’s model of the carving on display.
On the way to Mount Rushmore from Keystone, there is a museum dedicated to the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, himself. The Rushmore Borglum Story provides an audio tour through many displays telling the story of Borglum’s life through his early years and into his times as a monumental artist.
For those interested in the gold mining heritage of the hills, the Big Thunder Gold Mine provides tours through a former mine and also explains the hardships miners faced as they attempted to extract the riches from the (hopefully) promising earth. Visitors also have the chance to pan for their own gold as well.
Walking through the Presidential Wax Museum, visitors will view displays of all the previous presidents of the United States and listen to the challenges, failures, and successes of each during their time in office.
The Keystone Public Library is located in the Keystone Community Center at 1101 Madill St. in keystone and has varying hours. to view these hours, please visit http://www.keystonechamber.com/about/community
The Keystone Project Ministry Center is located in Keystone and is still undergoing construction. The Keystone project is dedicated to training and organizing missionaries to embark on “disciple-making” trips around the world.
After a rough start to the Summer Nights series due to numerous incidents involving unsupervised teens and after issuing an appeal to parents to check on their children, the Rapid City Journal reports that RCPD officers have noted a dramatic decline in juvenile issues. Additional law enforcement agencies are also helping ensure that incidents remain low. The Summer Nights series continues the rest of the month and officials are hopeful that the trend will continue.
To read up on past and current news articles related to Summer NIghts, click on this Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive link.
For more information on Summer Nights, be sure to check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network Issue Hub page.
The Great American Book Festival (GABFest) will take place over Labor Day weekend at Main Street Square, reports the Rapid City Journal. Award winning authors from across the country are scheduled to attend. Rapid City Public Library will host free seminars during the event.
Other scheduled activities include a Lit Walk, writer's conference, storytelling, panel discussions, and more. The events will be September 1st and 2nd.
At a recent Freeman Chautauqua, South Dakota journalists emphasized that the rise of fake news demanded better journalism practices, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The journalists also discussed the challenges of reporting in the age of “fake news.”
The discussion also provided a brief history of fake news, with prominent figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Edgar Allen Poe, and Mark Twain all behind the helm of fake news stories. However, the majority of their fake news publications were intended to be educational.
Several experts in the field offered their advice on combating fake news. Dave Bordewyk, executive director of the South Dakota Newspaper Association noted that transparency in how stories are produced may help the public become more literate in media coverage. News director of South Dakota Public Broadcasting Cara Hetland stated that journalists would benefit by speaking to individuals who aren’t afraid of making corrections to news reports.
Learn more about the rise of fake news and the new information landscape over lunch on August 29th at Knowledge at Noon: A Conversation with Lee Rainie, of the Pew Research Center. Register here today: bhknowsinternet.eventbrite.com
In a flashback to 2014-2015, the Rapid City Council will decide what to do with the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, but the final say may go to the voters. While the plan to build a new facility sounds similar to the 2014 proposal to refurbish and expand the Barnett Arena, in the Rapid City Journal Mayor Allender insists that this new plan is not just a repackaged version. The city council will have to decide whether to bring the Barnett Arena into compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and building codes or approve building a new, modern facility. Fixing the existing arena is cheaper, at about $25 million versus the $180 million cost of building new. However, a new building might be able to attract new shows, increasing revenue for the Civic Center and for the city with more visitors. Whatever decision the council makes, it could still lead to a referendum election as with the 2014 plan. With the deadline for ADA fixes looming, a decision will have to be made.
Past stories on the Civic Center are linked in the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
Rapid City's The Journey Museum turned a profit in 2016. The Rapid City Journal reports this is the first time that has happened in five years. The Journey had grown memberships by 30 percent to 597, while nearly 41,000 people visited in 2016, a nine percent increase over the previous year. The Journey still relies on the city to contribute about half of its budget, though it is estimated that every dollar spent on The Journey produces four dollars in tourism revenue.
Past articles on The Journey Museum are linked in the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
On June 15, a grand opening was held for the Deadwood Welcome Center, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. Local and state dignitaries attended the event and noted the center’s potential for providing key information to visitors to the city. The building is over 9,000 square feet and cost $6.5 million to construct.
Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels was the keynote speaker at the event. Michels stated that although Deadwood is primarily known as a gambling hub, it also offers many more aspects to tourism in South Dakota, including its rich history.
Black Hills Pioneer Publisher Letti LIster also offered remarks at the event. Lister highlighted the utility of the informational kiosks within the center and their ability to quickly provide visitors with information related to dining, lodging, events, trails and more.
Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender will give a public presentation about the Civic Center on June 28 at 6:30 p.m. The Rapid City Journal announced this will be the first presentation on the works of the Civic Center Resolution Task Force. The citizens on the task force were supposed to explore solutions to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues affecting the Civic Center and specifically Barnett Arena. The last major fix proposed for the Barnett Arena was a redesign and expansion voted down in March of 2015.
Past stories on the Civic Center can be found in the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
Last Wednesday, Freemasons celebrated the placement of a new marker and interpretive panel at Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood that provides information on the Celestial Lodge found in the Masonic section of the cemetery. The Black Hills Pioneer reports that high-ranking South Dakota Masons from the Grand Lodge of South Dakota, including Grand Master of the Masons of South Dakota Mike Rodman, conducted a rededication ceremony alongside members of the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, who created the signs.
The panel reads that the tiler, pillars, altar, and Worshipful Master embodies the physical representation of a Celestial Lodge, which is only one of two of its kind found in the United States. The ceremony consisted of Masons marching around the lodge and pouring corn, wine, and oil upon the monument, which Rodman claims has been performed for hundreds of years. This year marks 300 years of modern-day Freemasonry.