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To date, more tourists have visited the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in 2017 than at the same time last year. According to KOTA News, attendance has increased 1.1 percent from 2016. The most-attended day at Mount Rushmore was July 3rd, which increased by 5.3 percent over last year.

The increase in attendance is notable as many national parks have seen a decline in visitors in 2017 following last year’s centennial celebration. Attendance at nearby Yellowstone National Park decreased by five percent this year to date.

To read more about tourism in the Black Hills, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive. Learn more about Mount Rushmore on the Black Hills Knowledge Network digital history archive.

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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.

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While it comes as no surprise to local residents in the state, a report issued by the Outdoor Industry Association has published a report stating just how much of an impact hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities have on the economy. According to the Rapid City Journal, the report states that outdoor activities bring in $4.7 billion each year and influence nearly 48,000 jobs directly in South Dakota. The total amount represents everything from gear and licenses to hotel rooms and restaurant visits.

To read up on past and current news articles related to the outdoors activities in the region, click on this Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive link.

For more information on some outdoor activities in the Black Hills, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network Issue Hub webpage.

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Sturgis officials are noting that while there is a perception of the rally being attended by older adults, more and more younger people are coming as well. According to the Rapid City Journal, rally promoters see that both the rally and the motorcycle industry in general are finding ways to adapt to younger crowds and continue to find new ways to bring the youth movement into Sturgis. The future of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is dependent on these youth trends to continue in its existance.

To read up on past and current Sturgis Rally news articles, click on this Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive link.

For more information on the current 77th annual rally and it's history, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network Issue Hub page.

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With the advent of instant posting to social media sites, more of the Black Hills little known and hidden attractions are seeing large increases in foot traffic as more locals and visitors find them. According to the Rapid City Journal, this has also led to more aggravation for land owners near the sites as well as increases in delinquent activity on the trails while state officials mull over their options to protect the sites.  Forest Service officials are confident, however, that the increased traffic will lead to better individual environmental activism for respecting the locations.

To read up on past and current news articles related to the environment and conservation in the Black Hills, click on this Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive link.

For more information on environmental issues, be sure to check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network Issue Hub page.

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High levels of E. coli bacteria have been measured in Sylvan and Stockade lakes during recent tests. According to the Rapid City Journal, Custer State Park officials have temporarily suspended all swimming activities in both lakes until the bacteria levels return to normal. If new readings this week turn up better results, the resumption of swimming activities could return later next week.

To read up on past and current news articles related to outdoor recreation, click on this Black Hills Knowledge Network online new archive link.

For more information on recreational activities in the region, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network page.

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In May, slot machines in Deadwood posted increased numbers when compared to May 2016, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. According to data from the South Dakota Gaming Commission, machine and table gambling increased by 7.6 percent, marking the only increase for the industry so far this year.

Gamblers placed over $99 million in Deadwood’s slot machines and tables in May, resulting in a total of $432 million bets for all over 2017. Nine percent of the $99 million was collected for state sales tax.

Slot machines were the primary contributors to revenue gains in May at $93.7 million, a 8.4 percent increase when compared to May 2016. However, table games were slightly down when compared to May of last year at approximately $5 million in wagers, or 5.3 percent less than May 2016.

Visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile to learn more about Deadwood. Read more recent news from Deadwood at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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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.

To read more news from Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive. To learn more about Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.

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On June 19th, the city will settle the lawsuit brought against it by Outdoor Epic Advertising in 2012, reports KOTA News.

The lawsuit was one of two brought after the city passed three ordinances, changing the municipal code concerning billboards, in 2012. The lawsuit with Lamar was settled last March, and an agreement has been reached over Epic's lawsuit as well. The Rapid City Council is agreeing to do away with the need for a conditional use permit when working on existing billboards, and will modify the sign ordinance to allow larger, higher billboards along the interstate. In exchange, Epic will agree to stop running full motion videos on their digital billboards, and dismiss the lawsuit.

For more information on the history of billboards in Rapid City, please visit Black Hills Knowledge Network's Issue Hub and news archive.

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Monday, 05 June 2017 22:04

Reptile Gardens Celebrating 80 Years

On June 3, 1937 Earl Brockelsby first opened the doors of Reptile Gardens with a modest display of live rattlesnakes. Eighty years later, the business is one of the most visited attractions in the state, bringing in visitors from all across the U.S., as well as from foreign countries. According to the Rapid City Journal, a reunion of past and present employees will take place on June 17th and will look to celebrate the attraction's past as well as to its future with many members of the Brockelsby family still holding positions within the business.

To read up on past and current news articles related to the attraction as well as tourism in the Black Hills, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.

For more information on tourism and the economy of the area, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network Community Profiles page.

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Main Street Square and Downtown Rapid City coordinate to feature a variety of musicians each Thursday, reports the Rapid City Journal.  This year, the series will feature 27 different bands.  The Main Street Square Concert Series takes place on the stage at Main Street Square each Thursday, while the Summer Nights Concert Series takes place at 7th Street and St. Joseph Street.  The events feature a variety of genres including something for everyone throughout the summer. 

For more information about Main Street Square, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archives and issue hub.  You can learn more about Summer Nights by looking at the Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archives.  

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Next week the public pools in Rapid City will be open for business, reports the Rapid City Journal.

The outdoor pool at Roosevelt Swim Center opens Tuesday, May 30th; open swim will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

The Parkview Pool and the Jimmy Hilton Pool open on Thursday, June 1st.  The Horace Mann Pool will open Friday, June 2nd.

For more information on pool hours and rates, please visit the Aquatics Division of the Rapid City Parks and Recreation site. 

For more information on summer events in Rapid City, please visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.

 

 

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Summer officially begins June 21st, with warmer weather means more events in the Black Hills, reports the Rapid City Journal.  The Rapid City Journal partnered with their weekly newspaper partners to compile a comprehensive list of events available this summer.  Events will be held in Rapid City, Hot Springs, Spearfish, and Sturgis among other locations.

Learn more about recreational activities in the Black Hills by visiting the Black Hills Knowledge Network online digital archives or issue hub.  

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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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In mid-May 1937, tourists began arriving at Reptile Gardens. There was only one problem: the construction of the building was not complete. Not wanting to lose potential revenue, founder Earl Brockelsby had crew members begin selling postcards and rock art, while Earl gave tours of the attraction’s lookout tower.

Reptile Gardens officially opened on June 3, 1937. Admission cost 10 cents for adults and 5 cents for children. On opening day, Reptile Gardens earned a total of $3.85. Revenues plummeted the next day because of rain, and Brockelsby took in only 35 cents. However, the tourist destination quickly picked up pace and was showing a profit by 1941 and employed 15 people. 

Earl demonstrated several acts of bravado, including the daring act of holding a rattlesnake next to his open mouth. While his son recalled that other employees would have been fired for doing similar things, Earl always "knew that they weren't going to bite me." Earl was never bitten by a poisoness snake. 

Reptile Gardens moved to its current location in 1965 as it was forced to relocate due to construction of a new highway. The new location allowed for the building of the sky dome, which houses a variety of exotic flowers, as well as the safari house. This year, Reptile Gardens celebrates its 80th year of operation. 

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State and local officials are hoping that good weather and low gasoline prices will help spur a successful tourist season this year. According to the Rapid City Journal, a better-than-average season might help make up for current financial difficulties being caused by low cattle and crop prices as well as lower than expected sales tax revenues across the state. With no major landmark anniversaries as in previous summers, Department of Tourism officials are still encouraged by initial numbers that point to an increase in revenue over last year.

To read up on past and current news articles related to tourism in South Dakota, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.

For more information on tourism and its importance to the Black Hills, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network Community Profiles page.

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The Lead City Commission recently approved moving forward with bidding for the renovation of the city’s trestle sign at the entry of Pluma Canyon, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. While the full cost of the project will not be determined until bids are received, City Administrator Mike Stahl anticipates that repairs will be needed to the sign’s frame.

Stahl noted that Lead Commissioners favor the current design of the sign. Improvements will likely include sharpening and brightening the design of the sign, as well as providing new lights for greater visibility during evening hours.

To read more recent news from Lead, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive. Learn more about the City of Lead at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.

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South Dakota Department of Transportation officials are looking at two multimillion-dollar options for a redesign of the intersection that has been an area for explosive growth in recent years. According to the Rapid City Journal, the current plans under consideration—one with a price tag at $28.7 million and the other at $12 million—would help the flow of traffic which during peak hours can result in delays due to the current traffic stop. The $28.7 million plan would include a more expensive bypass, while the $12 million plan would include a continuous flow intersection

Construction would not have a start date until at least 2020 and may take a some time to finish, compounding traffic issues that will continue to get worse as the area develops further.

To read up on past news articles related to the economic development of Rapid City, click on this Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.

For more information on the economy of the city, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network Community Profiles page.

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In 2016, 4.5 million individuals visited national parks within South Dakota, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. Mount Rushmore National Memorial drew the largest number of visitors at 2.4 million, followed by Badlands National Park at 996,263 visitors. The total number of visitors to South Dakota’s national parks in the state can be viewed below: 

National Park Visitors in 2016
Mount Rushmore National Memorial 2,431,231
Badlands National Park 996,263
Wind Cave National Memorial 617,377
Jewel Cave National Monument 137,275
Minuteman Missile National Historic District 133,895
Missouri National Recreation River 148,210

Visitors to the Rushmore State’s national parks helped boost the state’s economy with $292 million spent in communities surrounding the parks. Overall, visitor spending contributed $377 million to local economies, according to the National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics Report.

Read more about National Park Service visitors at the agency’s statistics site. Learn more about the environment and conservation in the Black Hills region at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s Issue Hub page

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Liv Hopsitality, LLC is discussing a public-private partnership with the City of Box Elder for a new event center, reports the Rapid City Journal.  The potential event center would cost nearly $20 million to build and would be located near WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort.  Liv Hospitality manages several of the hotels and restaurants near exit 61 on Interestate 90, in addition to the waterpark.

In addition to the event center, the Box Elder City Council is also considering creating a business improvement district. Existing and future hotels located within the new business district would be assessed a city tax. Several of the hotels in the district are managed by Liv Hospitality.  Liv Hospitality CEO, Caleb Arceneaux, said the center would be able to host concerts, comedians, conventions, among other events.

To read more about Box Elder, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive or community profile.

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