Meeker Ranch & Gold Mountain Mine

MEEKER RANCH, NEAR CUSTER

In 2008, the Black Hills National Forest Supervisor, Craig Bobzien, set forth a plan of action for the immediate stabilization of the Meeker Ranch. Working with the Hell’s Canyon District Ranger, the USFS Archeologists, and Fred Thurston, an architect volunteering to assist with structural planning, the BHHPT agreed to partner in the effort to stabilize the main ranch house on the Meeker Ranch. Requirements for stabilization included doing a major cleanup of the premises, repairing the roof, and creating a swale to divert water from the foundation.

Financial support and exposure was garnered in 2008 through a Plein Aire Paintout sponsored by John and Jan Humphrey, owners of the Blue Dog Gallery in Lead, SD. They stood behind the idea of preserving the Meeker Ranch and put their full support into an event to help. Their efforts helped raise the first monies that went into the coffers of the BHHPT in the amount of over $7000. That same year, Mark Armstrong of A&A Engraving in Rapid City, SD, who attended the Plein Aire Paintout and fell in love with the ranch, also put his weight into the effort by donating a Winchester rifle to be raffled off. He engraved the stock with beautiful images of the Meeker Ranch and the Gold Mountain Mine, making it a very unique and collectible item. The raffle raised over $7000 for historic preservation.

 

(PHOTOS OF PAINT OUT AND THE WINCHESTER RIFLE)

 

Each summer since then, projects have been designed to bring greater stability to this historic site. Photos tell the story best, showing how the work took place through the efforts of many dedicated volunteers of the BHHPT.

https://www.facebook.com/123015631188/photos/ms.c.eJwzMTE0NDYzMDcztLDQM4FwLA0RHENDEAcAlPcHow~-~-.bps.a.441136016188.231559.123015631188/441136091188/?type=3

(PHOTO FROM 2009 WITH CAPTION)

(PHOTO FROM 2010 WITH CAPTION)

(PHOTO FROM 2011 WITH CAPTION)

(PHOTO FROM 2012 WITH CAPTION)

 

Behind the scenes, the Board of Directors has worked to provide the financial and professional assistance to keep the project moving forward. BHHPT received a $7,500.00 grant from the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission. As of 2012, Jon Crane has painted six watercolors and donated 15% of the sales on prints to the BHHPT. HistoriCorp, a not for profit organization dedicated to utilizing and training others in the use of true historic construction techniques, guided our work for three summers.

THE RESULTS? A building that is stable, the only one of its kind remaining on public land in the Black Hills, stands ready to inform visitors of the heritage of ranching in the Black Hills. More work remains to be done, and we invite you to become a part of these ongoing efforts to honor our past.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the intersection of Hwy. 385 and Custer Street in downtown Custer, SD, drive north on Hwy. 385 for six blocks to Montgomery Street and turn east. Continue straight for approximately 3.3 miles, crossing over Sylvan Lake Rd. where the name changes to Willow Creek Rd. As you continue straight, the road will deteriorate, becoming a rugged dirt road. Continue to the end, where you encounter a locked Forest Service gate. Park, and hike in ½ mile to the ranch. (GPS Coordinates: N 43.804 W 103.555)

 

GOLD MOUNTAIN MINE, NEAR HILL CITY

In 2009, the BHHPT began partnering with the Mystic Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest to save the Gold Mountain Mine’s mill frame and boiler located four miles northwest of Hill City. In addition to these preservation efforts, the historic structure was slated to become an interpretive site on the history of Black Hills mining.

The initial work done on the structure was deconstruction, trying to determine what parts were sound and what parts needed to be removed and replaced. A great deal of the structure was still sound, but needed to be cleaned, buttressed, and painted. Pieces of the structure that were unsound were removed and replaced with new materials. In 2010, a two-week campaign brought in volunteers from around the country through a Passport in Time Project. This volunteer service through the U.S. Forest Service served as an excellent resource for three summers, adding another layer of energy and enthusiasm to the BHHPT volunteer effort. A roof has been added and the frame stabilized. Interpretive signs will serve to provide knowledge to visitors about mining in the Black Hills.

VIDEO: Youth Natural Resource Program Works on Interpretive Trail at Gold Mountain Mine - Closed Caption

(PHOTO FROM 2009 WITH CAPTION)

(PHOTO FROM 2010 WITH CAPTION)

(PHOTO FROM 2011 WITH CAPTION)

(PHOTO FROM 2012 WITH CAPTION)

Behind the scenes, grant money from the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, federal grants, and donations from our volunteers have made completion of this project possible. US Forest Service Archeologist Michael Salisbury led the charge in guiding the volunteer efforts of many skilled and dedicated volunteers. In addition to BHHPT volunteers and the Passport in Time volunteers, a 15-member crew from Youth Natural Resources Program helped out, as did numerous staff from the National Forest Service.

Funding for this project has included $40,000.00 in grants from the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission.

A Pennington County Resource Allocation grant of $20,000.00 was used to build an interpretive trail, purchase eight interpretive signs, and build a parking area at the site. This trail was dedicated on September 19, 2014.

THE RESULTS? A rugged icon remains in the Black Hills, representing not only an important part of history, but a reminder of the power of cooperative interaction within a community. Thanks to the vision, passion, and countless hours of many volunteers, and the leadership of the United States Forest Service serving the people, future generations will tangibly understand more about our history.

HOW TO GET THERE: Driving west out of Hill City, SD, 2.7 miles on Deerfield Road, turn right on Forest Service Road 389, also known as Burnt Fork Road. Continue up this gravel road for 1.7 miles, where you will park and hike up the road to the left a short distance. (GPS Coordinates: N 43.985 W 103.6083)

BHHPT has also worked to help the Forest Service protect the Friendship Tower north of Deadwood, the Gorman Cabin by Silver City, and the Miller Cabin by Deerfield Lake. In 2017 we put new metal roofs on two historic buildings at the Mystic town site, and put a new porch deck on the historic McGillycuddy house in Rapid City.