Holy Terror Days in Keystone

 – By

Summer is always a bustling time in Keystone, and even though the season is winding down, the town is gearing up for its annual celebration of Holy Terror Days on September 12 and 13th!

Keystone's Holy Terror Mine, the event's namesake, became the second largest gold claim in the Black Hills after being discovered in the 1890s, and put the small Black Hills town on the map.

 The Keystone Mine was discovered by William Franklin, Thomas Blair, and Jacob Reed. This discovery brought on a second phase in the development of Keystone. This was a rich mine, at one time producing as much as $2.50 in one pan of crushed ore. As mining continued to be prosperous in Keystone, Franklin and his adopted daughter discovered gold at the base of Mt. Aetna. Upon further exploration, they found the mine was rich with ore and was later recognized as one of the richest mines in the country.

If you’re wondering how the Holy Terror got it’s name, here is an excerpt of the story, as shared on the Keystone Chamber of Commerce website, as told by Martha Linde.

“They (Franklin, his wife and adopted daughter) lived together in harmony until those occasions when William Franklin would feel the need to indulge his taste for strong liquor and would leave for a nearby town. At these times he remained absent until his wife, knowing from past experience where to look, would go in search of him. When she found the right saloon, there he would be slightly under the weather telling the other occupants tales of his wonderful mining prospects. Upon sighting William, his wife would rush in, grab him by the sleeve, and state in a loud and angry voice her opinion of his actions. He would always come along meekly stating with a sheepish grin to bystanders, "Ain't she a Holy Terror?" After he found the phenomenally rich ore and his partner suggested he name the mine after his wife, it became, not, ‘The Jennie,’ but, “The Holy Terror.”

The annual event started as a part of the town's Independence Day celebration in 1898 and was revived in the 1980s, The Holy Terror Days Association, a nonprofit organization, coordinates the event along with a Halloween celebration later in the fall. 

The association focuses on providing quality entertainment in the small but active town of Keystone. The group raises money to contribute to community projects as well as help out residents who may be in need of some sort of financial assistance.

Holy Terror Days events take place primarily at the Big Thunder Gold Mine, but the celebration will also feature a parade down Keystone’s Main Street as well as a luncheon sponsored by the Keystone Senior Citizen Center, which will take place in the Keystone City Park.

The celebration will also feature an Ugly Truck contest, an auction and a street dance featuring local band, Pumping Ethel and musical guest Mark Williams.

According to the association, an old tyme carnival will also take place at Big Thunder Gold Mine with gates opening at dusk and running until, “the kids are tired.” 

Holy Terror Days is a great event for the whole family and a wonderful way to spend an early fall weekend. Stop by the Powder House for a delicious meal before or after the event! The Powder House is located 4 miles north of Mount Rushmore on Highway 16A, featuring steaks, wild game, homemade pastas, deserts and so much more. For a complete list of the weekend’s events, visit the Keystone Chamber of Commerce website.

Last Modified:


  Check Availability