7 Black Hills Iconic Landmarks
The Black Hills region in South Dakota is home to many iconic landmarks and fascinating pieces of history. From fire towers to mountain tunnels and more, exploring these sites can make for some unforgettable adventures in the Rapid City area. Here are just a few of the top sites to check out:
Black Elk Peak Fire Tower: Found on the tallest peak in South Dakota, the Black Elk Peak Fire Tower was constructed from 1935 to 1938 using stones gathered from the nearby French Creek. Visitors to the summit can go inside the fire tower for unique views and stand on the viewing deck for rolling views of Custer State Park and beyond. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and makes for a rather nice reward upon reaching the top.
Mount Roosevelt Friendship Tower: This tower was built in 1919 as a memorial to President Theodore Roosevelt by his friend, and famous Deadwood Sheriff, Seth Bullock. In 1966, the Society of Black Hills Pioneers donated the tower to the United States Forest Service, and in 2005 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The hope was to provide a place where people could come and enjoy the views of the wide-open spaces that both Roosevelt and Bullock loved.
Rankin Ridge Fire Tower: Located in the northwestern section of Wind Cave National Park, the Rankin Ridge Fire Tower was named after the park's first superintendent, William A. Rankin. The tower was built in 1956 and sits on the highest point in the park at 5,013 feet. Today, it is still used periodically to look for fires or to monitor severe weather conditions. Due to safety concerns, the public isn't allowed up in the tower, but the hike and views from where it stands are worth your time.
Gold Mountain Mine: The Gold Mountain Mine is the only mining site in the Black Hills of South Dakota with the mill frame still standing. Restoration of the site started in 2009 by Forest Service employees and volunteers from the Black Hills Historic Preservation and Trust to make it safe for the public. The original mine was constructed in the 1920s and operated until 1940.
Flume Trail: Due to its historical significance, the Flume Trail has been designated as a National Recreation Trail. The Rockerville Flume was used in the 1880s during the mining boom of the Black Hills to carry water from Spring Creek over 20 miles to just outside of Rockerville, SD. Today, the trail follows along the majority of the actual flume bed. During the hike, you'll spot historic artifacts, pass through tunnels, and discover parts of the original flume.
Keystone Wye Bridge: Anyone driving from Rapid City to the Black Hills on Highway 16 (or reverse) will take note of the iconic Keystone Wye Bridge. Built in 1967, this laminated timber arch structure was designed to harmonize with the natural surroundings. The interesting part about this bridge, and something most people don't know, is that a truck carrying three of the arches to the site for assembly tipped over. While the pieces seemed intact, the Department of Transportation replaced them just to be safe. So what happened to these three seemingly perfect pieces? Well, you probably drove past those too. They became a landmark of their own forming an arch at the turn-off for the now-closed Sitting Bowl Crystal Caverns on Highway 16.
Beaver Creek Bridge: The historic Beaver Creek Bridge is a must-visit landmark located two miles north of the Wind Cave Visitor Center on S.D. Highway 87. This beautiful bridge spans one of the two perennial streams that flow through Wind Cave and was built in 1929 to provide travelers easy access to the newly developing Custer State Park. Its unique design features concrete arches that seem to emerge naturally from the rock walls of the canyon, creating a stunning illusion. Interestingly, the bridge is the only one of its particular arch type in South Dakota, and when it was built, it was the longest and most complex of its kind in the entire state. Take a leisurely stroll across the bridge and soak in the natural beauty of the area. Don't forget to snap a few photos and appreciate the incredible engineering and design that went into creating this landmark.
Discover the plethora of iconic landmarks nestled within the Black Hills, ranging from majestic fire towers to enchanting mountain tunnels, and so much more. Embark on an exciting journey to explore as many as you can and delve into their rich history. These unique experiences will undoubtedly leave you with unforgettable memories and enhance your adventures in the breathtaking Rapid City area.