Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

For 24 years, Igloo in Fall River County was a lively, prosperous spot thanks to the Black Hills Ordnance Depot.
For 24 years, Igloo in Fall River County was a lively, prosperous spot thanks to the Black Hills Ordnance Depot.
Photo from
March 10, 2016

Igloo Remembered As Prairie Utopia

A 21,000-acre swath of rolling prairie in Fall River County stands mostly vacant now, but in the 1940s, '50s and '60s Igloo became the county's center of post-Depression prosperity as the nation's war machine built up its munitions stores, reports South Dakota Public Radio

The Black Hills Ordnance Depot -- located in southwestern South Dakota due to low humidity, a railroad and some congressional maneuvering -- sprang up in 1942 to provide employment to whites, Native Americans from nearby reservations and African Americans in what is described as a harmonious, neighborly community. Early on, when men were overseas during World War II, women filled many of the jobs. 

As many as 6,000 people once worked at the ordnance depot, where folks found both new and improved housing compared to where they came from and also a tight housing market due to the influx of workers. The Provo schools swelled with students, and commerce of every stripe provided the steadily employed families lots of leisure options. 

The Fall River communities of Edgemont and Hot Springs prospered alongside Igloo after suffering through the Great Depression. 

In 1964, the U.S. Department of Defense announced it would close the Black Hills Ordnance Depot along with dozens of similar installations around the country. Over the years, peices of the place -- from furniture to tools to equipment -- were shipped to other federal operations. 

Now, the concrete bunkers used to store munitions remain to mark the spot on the prairie that once bustled.

Read more about Igloo at

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