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Because our history shouldn't become just that.

Thanks to a results-driven partnership between the Black Hills Historic Preservation Trust, Inc., the U.S. Forest Service, and countless volunteers we're making progress in the name of history.

We believe projects like Meeker Ranch and Gold Mountain Mine Mill Frame serve as irreplaceable reminders for present and future generations that preserving Black Hills history is an action worthy of our time and resources. We're dedicated to that end. We hope you'll join us.

The Black Hills Historic Preservation Trust, Inc. is an example of how private citizens can come together to work with public and governmental institutions, creating change for the betterment of our society. It is a model of the challenges, the rewards, the joys, and the satisfaction of volunteerism at its best.

Skip Tillisch, a retired optometrist from Hill City, South Dakota, had some strong opinions about a collapsing mill frame near his town that was in danger of being torn down. He and other community members were tossing around ideas about how to protect this impressive structure for future generations.

Jon Crane, a local watercolor artist doing business in Hill City, also had some strong opinions about the need to preserve the endangered buildings on the Meeker Ranch near Custer, South Dakota. He, along with a strong groundswell of public opinion rising up from his protestations, gained the ear of those responsible for the property.

The United States Forest Service, guardians of both properties, heard the outcries coming from the public, guided by Skip and Jon, and responded positively to the need to create a plan for historic preservation of these specific properties. Encouraged by the USFS to work together toward this goal, Skip, Jon, and a hearty band of interested citizens did come together to form the not-for-profit organization, the Black Hills Historic Preservation Trust, Inc. (BHHPT). Since 2008, the US Forest Service and BHHPT have linked arms with other entities to ensure that significant historic sites on public lands in the Black Hills are maintained for future generations.

As of June 2014, BHHPT has raised a total of $127,341.74 to help fund our projects and maintain them in the future. Private and business contributions have raised $31,580.67, and grants have totaled $95,761.07. To date $82,256.88 has been spent on the Meeker Ranch and the Gold Mountain Mine. Over $24,000.00 is in reserves to be used for maintenance and preservation of our projects.

BHHPT is a volunteer organization. There is no paid staff, and no costly office or equipment. After the cost of incorporation, our business expenses have been less than 2% of our income. Through June of 2014, the value of volunteer labor, donated equipment and supplies, USFS labor and equipment and supplies, and cash spent has exceeded $300,000.00.

Take a look at our projects page to see what has been accomplished since our inception. Read through our list of partners who share the same zeal for historic preservation. And even consider partnering with us in the worthwhile task of helping ensure that our history doesn’t become just that!

Recent News

Meeker Ranch Phase 1 Complete -

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04/26/2014 WE HAVE BEEN AWARDED A $15,000.00 GRANT FROM THE DEADWOOD HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION.  THIS GRANT WILL BE USED TO FUND OUR WORK AT THE MEEKER RANCH HOUSE OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS.

On June 16, 2014 the grand opening of the Gold Mountain Mine Mill Frame Interpretive Trail was held.  Plaques were given to Craig Bobzien,  Bob Thompson, Lynn Kolund, Terri Leistman, Matt Padilla, Michael Salisbury, and the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission in recognition for their support of our projects.

On June 16, 2014, BHHPT was presented with a plaque, and a certificate of appreciation by the United States Department of Agriculture.  "This award recognizes excellence in public outreach through Windows of the Past."  

To volunteer, please contact BHHPT President, Skip Tillisch at 605-863-2763 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it