Sunday, September 11, 2016
Geoff Ziebart presented the program "Rim Rock Lodge, Its History and Future" to an audience of 95 people at the Spearfish Area Historical Society on Sept 6, 2016. This was the kick-off program for the 2016-2017 season.
The land in Spearfish Canyon where Rim Rock Lodge is located was initially a mining claim by Marcus Edgerton. Marcus moved on from mining and became the first clothier in Spearfish. Edgerton built a cabin on the site in 1919. He sold the land and cabin to Margaret Bridge, Dean of Black Hills Normal, for $1 in 1932.
Even though it was the middle of the Great Depression, Margaret immediately hired Fred W and Fred E Shields to build six cabins, a 3-story lodge and a restaurant on the site. The Spearfish Canyon railroad was washed out by a flood that same year, but Margaret kept going, completing the construction in 1934. She started a Boys & Girls Camp at Rim Rock in conjunction with another camp called Lapped Circle Ranch (location unknown). Margaret was also known in the area for
holding birthday parties for 80 year olds at the cabin in Spearfish Park. Margaret died in 1994 at age of 57.
There have been many owners since: Willard Crane in 1944, Donald Hair in 1948, Bruce Yarborough in 1952, Benjamin Sprecher in 1955, Esa Haataja in 1970, and Walt Ziebart in 1977. In Feb 2015, Geoff and Lori Ziebart secured the family business and have done extensive renovation to the cabins and 6.25 acre property. Rim Rock Lodge is open from mid-June to mid-Sept. See more on their website www.rimrocklodge.com.
When asked about any memories from Rim Rock Lodge, SAHS members recounted enjoyable stays at Rim Rock Lodge, the tasty pancakes and oatmeal cooked by Mrs. Ziebart, the mountain goats on the rimrock, and the 1950's square dancing by musician Glenn Yarborough.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
Paul Higbee presented "The Development of the Ampitheatre" at the Lookout Ampitheater early evening on May 3, 2016. Rand and Gayla Williams, current owners of the Lookout Ampitheater, graciously shared the site. They opened the box office building for us to walk through and we all sat in the left side amphitheater seats with a beautiful view of Lookout Mountain.
The amphitheater was built in 1939 for the Black Hills Passion Play, with 6000 seats and the longest stage in the world. Martin Thompson was the primary contractor. The yellow color on the buildings was beneficial to good lighting. The parking lot design to allow people to walk in at a level with the seating was ahead of ADA regulations by 30 years.
|The Lookout Ampitheater full stage|
But the story goes back before that when, in 1937, Josef Meier from Leunen, Germany performed his touring passion play in Sioux Falls. That led to connections in the Black Hills, especially Guy Bell, a car salesman, who contacted Josef Meier to come to Spearfish and perform the passion play at Black Hills State College. Josef Meier chose Spearfish to construct the stage on the site in 1939. The first performance had an audience of 1,100. There was no parking lot as people were expected to park around town and walk in. The seating was pine planks, made by the Hargrave Sawmill. Initially, there was no sound system and the actors had to fully project their voices. A sound system was installed in the 1950's. Initially, there were no trees on the site, so the Garden of Gethesemane and the Tomb were staged with cut trees.
During WWII, attendance dropped and the non-profit organization collapsed. Walter Dickey offered an interest-free loan so that bills could be paid. Instead of performing in Spearfish, the troupe took the passion play on the road to survive. They returned to Spearfish in 1948 to begin a long run of performances three nights a week.
Audiences were often chilled from South Dakota cool nights or sometimes wet from rain. The US Weather Bureau provided regular weather forecasts. Motels offered Passion Play blankets. The motels also had a concierge at the site for late-comers who still needed a place to stay.
Five to six million people attended the Passion Play before it closed August 2008.
|View of Lookout Mountain in May|
Monday, April 18, 2016
|Graphic of Hydro 1, south of Spearfish Park|
Paul Higbee shared the history of the "Two Spearfish Canyon Hydro Plants" to 125 people at the April 5, 2016 program for the Spearfish Area Historical Society.
|Hydro 1 in Spearfish|
|One of the two generators inside Hydro 1 in Spearfish|
Both Hydro Plants operated through the 1934 year of dust storms. In 1947, a Spearfish Canyon landslide damaged the conduit and Hydro Plant 2 was shut down. The Hydro Plant 2 property was sold to SD Game, Fish and Parks. In 2004, Homestake sold Hydro Plant 1 to the City of Spearfish. The plant is still running and the power is sold to BH Energy. Homestake re-channeled the water to Spearfish Falls in 1990.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
|Bart Trucano at Spearfish Area Historical Society 3-1-2016|
On March 1, 2016, Bart Trucano led over 80 members of the Spearfish Area Historical Society down the "Trucanos and Trojan" path of ancestry and stories. Bart's great grandfather, Matteo Trucano, left a monastery in Italy as a young man to come to the Illinois coal fields. His other great grandfather, Peitro Ciuretto, also came from Italy and moved to Terraville to work in the Terraville Mine where he was tragically killed by a blast in 1897. The next generation, Bartholomeo Trucano and Mary Ciuretto Trucano, stayed away from the mines and became grocers in Lead. Bartholomeo joined the Christopher Columbus Society, a club that advised and helped immigrants become naturalized. Bartholomeo's naturalization papers were signed by Sol Starr and in 1915 he registered for the draft for WWI.
|Early Day Open Cut Mining Black Hills Area|
|Trojan, SD approx 1918|
Jim Ciuretto and Curt Hoselton delivering groceries
Some facts from the times:
- A postcard in 1910 cost 1 cent to mail.
- In 1914, miners who were in ill health went to Hot Springs for health treatments in the spa.
- The town of Trojan, west of Lead with a population of about 500, was originally named Greenmont then Portland, then Trojan.
- In 1907, Homestake Mine changed the work hours for miners from 10 hours a day seven days a week to 8 hours a day seven days a week. They
offered 6 days a week but the miners wanted to work Sundays.
offered 6 days a week but the miners wanted to work Sundays.
- Trojan Mining Co. eventually became Bald Mountain Mining Co. It employed about 200 people.
- Cyanide can lids were used around the area as insulation.
|Aldo Trucano in center of group of people cross-country skiing in Trojan/Terry Peak Area 1927-1929|
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Mary Livingston presented 'Whitewood History and Homesteading Laws' to an appreciative audience on a snowstorm evening on Feb 2, 2016 at the Spearfish Senior Citizens Center.
Whitewood History synopsis:
From 1877 on, the little settlement of Whitewood seem to have a few people a year build homes, but it was overshadowed by the busy Crook City just a mile south. Crook City was the intersection of the Ft. Pierre and the Bismark Trails where oxen drawn supply wagons stopped before making the long and arduous trip ‘up the mountain’ to the populated Black Hills mining towns of the late 1870s and 1880s.
A man by the name of William Selbie, a railroad employee and Deadwood land speculator, seem to have an ‘ear’ of the ambitious Eastern railroad men who were looking to expand the rail lines into the West to ship western livestock and farm products to the large Eastern cities. Selbie began buying up water rights and land on the flat area just east of the then settlement of Whitewood. By 1887, Selbie had put together and sold a land package to the Pioneer Township Company who surveyed it into lots and, on Thanksgiving Day 1887, auction off the Whitewood Town Lots. The first train in the Northern Black Hills from the East pulled into Whitewood November 21, 1887. When modern day Whitewood was begun, Crook City knew the coming of the railroad to their neighboring city would spell their doom so they hitched mule teams to buildings in their town and pulled them into Whitewood and a new business district was formed overnight.
|Whitewood Picnic Day 1912|
Thursday, January 7, 2016
|Lawrence Co. Special Centennial Newspaper Article 1998|
Maureen started the story out with the Stanislas Furois family arriving from Canada in Deadwood in 1879 and moving to the False Bottom area.
Son, Adolphe, got a toothache and walked to Deadwood all night in the middle of the night to get to a dentist. He decided after that to live in town, Deadwood and then St Onge. At one point he cut wood from Crooked Oaks and peddled it door to door in Deadwood. Adolphe helped build the stone house in St Onge.
|Stone House - St Onge|
Adolphe's brother, Achille Furois, was a fiddle player and a ladies man and at one time met Belle Star of western fame. He built a hotel in St Onge and named it the Star Hotel.
Adolphe and his family managed the only general store in St Onge. His son, Charles L Furois took up as manager and the store stayed in the family into the 1940s and 1950s.
|General Store Ledger|
Ed Furois told the story of his father, Charles, waking him up at 4am to accompany him to the St Onge Cemetery where they took down the fence separating the Catholic and Protestants buried there. Later, in the General Store, a patron came in announcing that the "Fence in the cemetery was gone!" and Charles nonchalantly commented "Is that so?"
|Mike Barnes, Hatchery Manager|
McNenny State Fish Hatchery, owned and operated by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, provides trout and salmon for stocking in the Black Hills, Missouri River Reservoirs, and Eastern South Dakota lakes and streams. High fishing pressure, low natural reproduction, and limited food supplies create the need for stocking. Fish raised at McNenny provide fishing opportunities to anglers of all ages.
Approximately 3.5 million gallons of water flow through the hatchery each day. After flowing through the rearing units, the water passes through two settling ponds before eventually flowing into Crow Creek. The hatchery uses this water to produce around 60,000 pounds of trout and salmon each year (give or take a pound or two).The goal of McNenny State Fish Hatchery is to maximize angler satisfaction. To accomplish this goal McNenny emphasizes fish quality and post-stocking survival.
|1949 McNenny Artesian Well|
The hatchery's water comes from three artesian wells that were put in place in 1949. These wells provide consistent ideal temperature water for fish to hatch and grow.
But much more happens at McNenny than just rearing fish. McNenny strives to be a leader in hatchery-based scientific research and controlled experimentation. The four permanent staff, interns, and volunteers continually innovate by creating or improving the hatchery infrastructure, equipment, and operating procedures. Research and innovation at McNenny not only improves how fish are raised on site, but also advances aquaculture and fisheries management worldwide.
|The McNenny Fish Hatchery Display Pond is a 121 foot deep natural sinkhole.|
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
|David Wolff sharing the story of James K.P. Miller|
Born in 1845, James K.P. Miller was an early west entrepreneur moving throughout Montana under the alias name of Sydney Osborne (he had lost family money on a venture in his home state of New York). He learned the grocery business in the early west while at the same time traveled the world. In 1876 he came to Deadwood, now under his real name, at a time when Deadwood already had 200 stores and 21 groceries. James established a grocery with partner McPherson and soon was competing directly with Sol Star and Seth Bullock's store. The 1880 Deadwood fire took his store down for a uninsured $50,000 loss. He built again, this time with iron shutters. Then the 1883 flood came and James encouraged and got a 16' high 1000 ft bulkhead built along the west side of the creek. James became a major developer in town and with his own funds and with a syndicate of developers he built the Syndicate Block, a flour mill, a reduction plant, and the D&D Smelter, among other investments. He tried to get the Fremont train to Deadwood. After years of promotion he got frustrated and set in motion a line from Deadwood to Lead in 1889 (the ride cost 25 cents, took 17 minutes and took a grade of 8%). Unfortunately, James died in major debt in 1891 at age 54. About the time of his death, the Burlington Northern railroad built 100 miles to Deadwood and this pushed the Fremont railroad to finally come in the final 10 miles through Boulder Canyon.