One of the surprises associated with writing this blog is the number of people who will write in with comments about a topic, attraction, or restaurant that we visit. The most recent surprise was the note we received from Karen Cade. I'm always glad when someone takes the time to provide information that we did not have or correct an error we may have made. So with thanks to Ms. Cade, who was the person most knowledgable about the matter, we have included her note about the information that I did not have when writing yesterday's blog:
The buffalo that you could not find information on was originally “The Taming of the West” by ILONA MCDILL and SCOTT CAMERON in 2007. The buffalo once had (painted on it) a working steam engine pulling logging cars traveling through a rocky tunnel cut in the mountain and continuing on over high trestles. The Rusty, metal-looking panels covering the rear of the animal represented the advance of the Industrial Age.
Unfortunately the weather took its toll on the original buffalo and he needed major repair. The owners Colleen Hennessy and Jim Frank contracted me to repair the buffalo. We converted the buffalo into a mining theme and utilized many of the original concepts. I just delivered the buffalo back to Custer late June. I never thought that he would come as a mystery buffalo, but maybe that could be added in the treasure hunt in future years.
The opportunity to wade in a creek, walk through the hills, or ride a train associated with gold miners is not to be missed. So, the chance to ride the 1880 Train through some of the gold mining areas of the Black Hills was one of our first trips.
While waiting to board the steam locomotive train for the ride from Hill City to Keystone, we took a few photos of this cart at the depot.
We were one of the first in line, and as "the old 110" engine pulled up, we planned our strategy for passenger car selection.
We selected seats in one of the open air cars (second from the right in the photo). The windows provided obstruction-free vantage points for photos.
We passed some of the original telegraph poles as we headed toward Keystone.
The Black Hills mining boom began in 1874. Gold was discovered near the site of today's city of Custer by a member of an exploration party lead by Lt. Colonel George A. Custer.
The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad's operations were built in several portions between Hill City and Keystone during the central Black Hills mining boom in the 1890s.
"During the late 1940s, diesel engines became more common than steam. After years of declining use, William B. Heckman decided to start a railroad where steam actually operated, and was not just relegated to static display.
"He and Robert Freer organized a group who believed
'there should be in operation at least one working steam railroad, for boys of all ages who share America's fondness for the rapidly vanishing steam locomotive.'
"On the morning of August 18, 1957, the first official train operated on the Black Hills Central. Veteran Burlington engineer Earl Coupens piloted the Klondike Casey and its 2 open-air coaches away from the Burlington's vintage 1890 Hill City depot; up the over four-percent grade of Tin Mill Hill and on to Oblivion.
"The route had been nicknamed 'the 1880 TRAIN,' as it was likened by Heckman to riding a train in the 1880s.
"While not quite historically accurate, (Heckman was never a rigorous advocate of historic accuracy) the dating of the operation stuck, and if nothing else, captured an illusion of the railroad history" (1880train.com/history).
It was a very nice day for a trip back in time through the meadows, woods, and rock formations in the Black Hills.