Known for its fishing, swimming and camping opportunities, Stockade Lake, at 120 acres, is the largest of Custer State Park's four lakes. Dams and campgrounds at Stockade, Center, Legion and Sylvan lakes, plus the U.S. Forest Service's nearby Bismarck Lake, were built by Civilian Conservation Corps crews during the Great Depression.
Stockade Lake is named for Gordon Stockade, the roughly constructed fort used by illegal gold seekers at the start of the Black Hills gold rush in the winter of 1874. A replica of the stockade is near the lake, at Custer State Park's western edge. Tours of the replica fort are available.
Because the Black Hills belonged to Native American tribes of the Great Plains under the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, the U.S. Cavalry evicted the white gold seekers within five months.
Nonetheless, word had spread of the summer 1874 gold discovery made by an expedition led by Lt. Col. George Custer. Within two years, more than 10,000 illegal prospectors had entered the Black Hills. The U.S. Army decided it could not stop the influx.With a gold rush on in full force, the U.S. government relocated Native Americans to other reservation lands, against the wishes of the tribes.