– By #Powder House Lodge
This month travel through history with the 1880 Train with a ride on the Mother’s Day Express. Mothers and their guests can enjoy a bubbly beverage, a savory snacks and a sweet desert while they wind their way through the hills on the historic steam engine train.
In addition to a Mother’s Day special, the 1880 Train is also offering a Military Appreciation weekend May 16 and 17, active military personal and children up to age 12 ride for free. But before the conductor yells, “All Aboard!,” here is a little history behind the 1880 Train and it’s place in the Black Hills.
No other event in the history of the development of the American west was as influential as the building of the transcontinental railroad. As rails were laid, relationships were forged, connecting communities and industries.
In western South Dakota, the story was no different. Rails found their way across the prairie and through the hills, connecting mining communities, bringing visitors, money and industry to the Black Hills.
The gold rush and mining boom hit the Black Hills in 1874. Gold was first discovered near the town of what is now known as Custer. Just a few years later, gold was also found near the towns of Lead and Deadwood.
As word of gold spread across the state and surrounding areas, the small towns of Custer, Lead and Deadwood experienced a boom. In Lead, the Homestake Mining Company established its self, with its open cut mining operation as well as its underground mining operation. In need of a way to transport workers and haul loads of raw mining material, the first steam engine in the Black Hills was brought across the prairie by bull team to the mine at Lead in 1879. In 1881, the Home-stake Company created the first narrow-gauge railroad in the Black Hills to haul its cargo as well as people, from Lead to several mining camps throughout the area. In 1885, the first standard-gauge railroad reached Buffalo Gap, Dakota Territory, and was extended into Rapid City the next year.
The stretch of the original railroad, although, no longer used for hauling gold and mining materials, is still in use today. The 1880 Train, a steam powered engine makes its way between Keystone and Hill City everyday during the summer acting as a passenger train. Visitors to the Black Hills can board in either Hill City or Keystone, and choose either a one way or round trip option.
The 1880 Train is a wonderful way to enjoy the natural beauty of the Black Hills with your family and friends. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, make sure to fuel up at the Powder House before or after your ride for a meal you won’t soon forget!