Monday, June 06, 2011

Lookin’ Around Spearfish

We’ve been here a few weeks now, and have had the chance (when it wasn’t raining) to do some exploring.  We took a ride North to the town of Belle Fourche (bell-foosh), a pretty little town just east of the Wyoming border.  Alladin TippleWe headed west from town, and in a while came across the historic Aladdin Tipple, an underground coal mine that began operations in the late 1880s to provide coal for the gold smelters in the Deadwood area.  The mine had it’s own rail Alladin Tipple2line, which ran to the main tracks at Belle Fourche, and was operational until the 1940s.  The “tipple” was used to sort coal – the coal was loaded into the bin on top, and as gravity forced it down the chute, the different sizes of coal would fall through grates and be sorted, then held in bins until loaded into rail cars.   It was an ingenious system and viewing the “tipple” gives you a clear picture of how it worked.  A few miles further down the road brought us to the town of Aladdin (population 15), where we stopped at the famous Aladdin General Store, a place of antiques, biker clothing, and a couple of friendly ladies behind the counter.  We continued on to Sundance, a picturesque town at the foot of the Bearlodge Mountains.  We visited the local museum, one of the best we’ve seen in a small town, with interesting information on the area’s history, the Custer expedition of 1874, and of course, the Sundance Kid.
Bear Butte View 1We also took a drive through Sturgis, (which is not particularly picturesque or interesting), and visited Bear Butte State Park, an area considered sacred to Native Americans.  Throughout the park, trees and bushes were adorned by “prayer cloths” to Bear Butte View 2represent the prayers offered by individuals during their worship.  Bear Butte is spectacular, rising over 1200’ above the surrounding landscape, with a lake, campground, and hiking trails.  One trail, a little over a mile, even goes to the top, where we’re sure people with more hiking enthusiasm than we have will enjoy the view.
South Dakota has been the filming site of many western movies, and one of Roughlock Fallsour favorites, Dances with Wolves, was filmed in the area.  We took a side road down Little Spearfish Canyon to Roughlock Falls, an area where the last scene of the movie was filmed.  This time of year the falls were roaring due to the still-melting snowpack, and there were just a few people watching instead of the summer crowds. 
Potluck LineOne of the reasons we enjoy volunteering is the friendships we make with our fellow volunteers.  Here at “Volunteer Village”, we’ve had a number of pot-luck get-togethers, and if there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s hearty appetites, followed by a glass of wine….or two.  We’re a group of people with wildly diverse backgrounds, but with a common interest in public service and learning new subjects.  And did I mention the food?
Things are warming up and the trees are filling out – it’s a beautiful time of year and we’re looking forward to our summer here; stop back and see where we’ve explored!


  1. What a beautiful area! Thanks for the tour! We visited that area several years ago and it is time to return!!

    Looks like a great group of folks to volunteer with...:-)

  2. It all sounds and looks like quite the the photos. I think I may have to add this place to our list of travel places we want to go to in the future. We definitely need to find someplace a bit less hot and humid for the summer months!