1880 Train, Spearfish Canyon and Deadwood

All Aboard the 1880 TRAIN!!!
Thursday, August 14th, Happy Birthday Bob! Today Bob wanted to ride the 1880 Train, powered by steam, the 2-hour, 20 mile round trip from Hill City to Keystone winds through the Black Hills National Forest. Hill City, the western terminus and headquarters of the 1880 Train, began in 1875 as a placer mining camp. The town boomed in the 1880s as the headquarters for the tin mining company and again in the 1930s with the CCC camps. Now tourism has kept Hill City busy in the summer. In the summer of 1957 the sound of a steam locomotive whistle returned to the central Black Hills of South Dakota, known as the 1880 TRAIN. We arrived early to watch the steam engine filling with water as the Conductor made sure everything was in top form. When it left the Station the steam engine started up the 4 to 6 percent grade and climbed to the top of Tin Mill Hill where we could see ruins of the Good Luck Mine, which flourished during both World Wars. Looking across Palmer Gulch we could see Harney Peak, at 7,242 feet, the highest point between the Rocky Mountains and the Alps. We arrived in Keystone and spent time exploring the town.

1880 Train Ride

The town of Keystone itself started about the turn of the century, based on the many gold mines, but principally on the Holy Terror Mine, which went down 1,200 feet and was one of the richest mines in the Black Hills. Keystone is composed of two towns: the “old” town, under the shadow of the Holy Terror Mine (named for the wife of the discoverer) and the “new” town, along the highway to Mount Rushmore. We enjoyed walking through the “old” town and taking photos of all the old buildings. Then we boarded the 1880 Train again to return to Hill City. Bob’s birthday was announced over the loud speaker by the conductor, it made his day getting his photo taken with him.

Old N0.110 leaving Black Hills Central Depot in Hill City

Spearfish Canyon

Then we drove through the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, 20 miles, along Highway 14A, full of Ponderosa and Spruce Pine trees, giving it a “full of life” feeling, and it’s narrow 1000-foot limestone walls are some of the most spectacular scenery in the Black Hills. We hiked into the beautiful Roughlock Falls along the way and also stopped at the Bridal Veil Falls.


Finally we arrived at Deadwood, the entire city is on the National Historic Register, all the beautifully restored historical buildings are worth spending some time browsing through them. We enjoyed walking the streets and visiting all the different shops along the way. Gaming casinos have helped to restore the city and increased tourism. During the gold rush of 1876 legendary people such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane lived in Deadwood. We had dinner at the Social Club filled with old photos of these characters.