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Ghost Town USA’s

Guide to the Ghost Towns of

SOUTH DAKOTA

“The Mount Rushmore State

 

 

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Western & Eastern Treasures

Ghost Town USA Column Index for South Dakota.

Like most of the states in America’s heartland, South Dakota is filled with ghost town sites, ghost towns, and near ghost towns. During the later 1870s, a major gold rush to the Black Hills usurped Native American lands, and problems developed between the Indians and the American interlopers.  After the gold rush subsided in the early-mid 1880s, and the worst of the armed confrontations between the Native Americans and new settlers was resolved, farms exploded across the prairie.  These in turn caused towns to pop up, and railroads to reach across the landscape. A large portion of these towns were established along the railroad corridors, and spaced from six to ten miles apart. According to old sources, that is because most farmers could drive their farm wagons to and from town in one day. During the past 100 years many of those towns have disappeared, along with many of the railroads. This is linked to more efficient transportation via cars and trucks.

 

Wicked winters, valuable farmland, and lack of government owned property, except in the southwestern part of the state have also contributed to the demise of many of South Dakota’s ghost towns. Again as in many areas, the owners of property seldom like to keep abandoned and dilapidated structures around, as they have to pay taxes on them. This has contributed to the demise of many small villages, which have since reverted to farmland. In addition to farming and railroad ghosts, remember the Black Hills Gold Rush contributed hundreds of mining camps and scores of larger towns, many of which are long gone.  There were also scattered military posts, stage-coach stops, and trading posts.  South Dakota is fertile ghost town and metal detecting territory.

 

If you know of any ghost towns in South Dakota that are not listed here, or know the current status of towns listed with little information, please contact us…

 

The Black Hills area ghost towns were featured in our November 2003 Ghost Town of the Month.

 

PLEASE NOTE: 

Where photos are indicated thusly (PHOTO!), please use your browser’s “BACK” button to return to this page.  More photos will be added over time.

 

THE GHOSTS

 

CASTLETON

Pennington Co.

Dating to 1876 this class A placer mining camp endured several boom-bust cycles as the placers faded, the railroad came and went, and a dredge reworked the placers.  Nothing from the old days remains. 

See our BLACK HILLS page for additional details.

CENTRAL CITY

Lawrence Co.

Located on US 14a, midway between Lead and Deadwood, this historic gold mining town has a number of interesting, picturesque buildings, including what looks like an old hotel and a fire station.  The rushed atmosphere of Deadwood isn’t here, nor is the bustling mining town life of Lead. (1995)

CHANCE

Perkins Co.

The post office in this tiny town was established in 1902.  Early photos show a decent number of commercial buildings.  It is located on Thunder Butte Creek, about 20 miles southeast of Bison.

DEADWOOD

Lawrence Co.

Deadwood is a much-alive, historic community filled with ghosts of the past, and is a must stop for anyone exploring this part of the country and is located on US 85, 10 miles south of I-90 at EXIT 17, at a point seven miles east of Spearfish.

See our DEADWOOD page for additional details.

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.

HARDING

Harding Co.

This faded agricultural town is on a small road about 30 miles southwest of Buffalo in the northwestern corner of the state.  It was founded around 1890, and by the start of WW II the town only had 38 folks. A number of unoccupied structures remain in this onetime trading center for outlying farms and ranches. 

HOMESTAKE MINE

 

Located outside Lead, in the upper end of the Black Hills, this was America’s greatest gold mine until it closed in 2002.

See our Homestake Mine page for additional details.

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.

LODGEPOLE

Perkins Co.

Located on SH 75, about 10 miles south of Hettinger, North Dakota.  In 1995, this wide spot in the road had a handful of folks, a sheet metal garage selling Firestone Tires, and a white two story general store/gas station. There was also a county school nearby and a country church. It was founded in 1907, but has never grown much.

LUDLOW

Harding Co.

On US 85, 21 miles north of Buffalo.  This tiny town of five folks (1980) is nothing more than a memory and a handful of buildings alongside the highway.

 MEADOW

Perkins Co.

This small town of a dozen or so people sits along SH 20, 12 miles east of Bison.  A 1910 photograph shows about 20 commercial buildings along the main street.

MYSTIC

Pennington Co.

Located three miles north of Castleton. 

See our BLACK HILLS page for additional details.

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.

NAHANT

Lawrence Co.

North of Rochford on Forest Road (FR) 17 just north of the county line, is the junction with FR 206 and the site of this old lumbering and mining town. 

See our BLACK HILLS page for additional details.

OREVILLE

Pennington Co.

The site of a 1930s era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp is on US 16/385 just north of the Pennington Co. line, 5.3 miles south of Hill City.  The Oreville CCC Camp was active in the mid 1930s, and housed as many as several hundred people. 

See our BLACK HILLS page for additional details.

PRAIRIE CITY

Perkins Co.

In 1990, 50 people lived in this little town located on SH 20, 17 miles west of Bison and 37 miles east of Buffalo.  In 1995, it had an old school converted into an antique shop, a newer school that was still in use, two churches, a closed general store, and an occupied combination post office/store/gas station, as well as a number of homes ranging in age from modern mobile homes to abandoned old clapboard shanties.

RALPH

Harding Co.

Again as is so typical in this part of the state, this ghost has a cluster of occupied structures consisting of a combination post office/general store/gas station along with several other buildings.

REDFERN

Pennington Co.

Two miles north of Tigerville is the site of Redfern. 

See our BLACK HILLS page for additional details.

REDIG

Harding Co.

Located on US 85, 50 miles north of Belle Fourche is this tiny town of 10 folks.  On the west side of the highway are a couple mobile homes and a tiny white store/gas station/post office with collection of gasoline pumps out front.  On the east side of the highway are the well-weathered remains of a wooden two-story building, and a few sheds and agricultural type structures.  Off in the distance is a junkyard.

REVA

Harding Co.

Located on SH 20, about 23 miles east of Buffalo and just east of the junction with SH 79 is the hamlet of REVA.  This tiny agricultural town had a population of five in 1980, and in 1995 consisted of a store/post office/gas station combination with a bar, warehouse and a mobile home rounding out the facilities.  An older, well-kept white home sat across the highway. 

ROCHFORD

Pennington Co.

Located south of Lead and west of Silver City in the heart of the Black Hills.  Founded in February 1877, the gold mining town quickly boomed to 500 people with a solid business district.  Today it is a sleepy backwoods town.

See our BLACK HILLS page for additional details.

SORUM

Perkins Co.

Sorum was founded in 1908, and by 1980 the population was only five.  It is located southwest of Prairie City, just east of the county line.

St. ONGE

 

Dodge Co.

This faded farm town of 100 or so folks is on SH 34, 13 miles southeast of Belle Fourche, and six miles north of I-90.  In 1995, the town had a decaying downtown core of a half-dozen unoccupied one and two-story buildings, surrounded by numerous residential structures of various vintages, ranging from old clapboard shanties to recent mobile homes, half of which didn't appear occupied.  An unoccupied green school, a grain elevator and a still open gas station/convenience store rounded out the community.   PHOTO!

TIGERVILLE

Pennington Co.

Located 5.2 miles northwest of Hill City.  Nothing other than a few older mobile homes and scattered cabins of fairly recent vintage mark the site, which is at the junction of FR 231 and FR 17. 

See our BLACK HILLS page for additional details.

ZEONA

Perkins Co.

This tiny town had a maximum population of six, and is located just east of the county line 25 miles south-southwest of Prairie City.

 

MORE INFORMATION

 

Historians estimate that there may be as many as 50,000 ghost towns scattered across the United States of America.

Gary B. Speck Publications is currently in process of publishing unique state, regional, and county guides called

The Ghost Town Guru's Guide to the Ghost Towns of ***

These original guides are designed for anybody interested in ghost towns. Whether you are a casual tourist looking for a new and different place to visit, or a hard-core ghost town researcher, these guides will be just right for you. With over 30 years of research behind them, they will be a welcome addition to any ghost towner's library.

 

Thank you, and we'll see you out on the Ghost Town Trail!

 

For more information on the ghost towns of SOUTH DAKOTA, contact us at Ghost Town USA.

 

E-mailers, PLEASE NOTE:

Due to the tremendous amount of viruses, worms and “spam,” out there, I no longer open or respond to any e-mails with unsolicited attachments, OR messages on the subject lines with “Hey”, “Hi”, “Need help”, “Help Please”, “???”, or blank subject lines, etc.  If you do send E-mail asking for information, or sharing information, PLEASE indicate the appropriate location AND state name, or other topic on the “subject” line. 

THANK YOU!  :o)

IMPORTANT

 

These listings and historical vignettes of ghost towns, near-ghost towns and other historical sites in SOUTH DAKOTA above are for informational purposes only, and should NOT be construed to grant permission to trespass, metal detect, relic or treasure hunt at any of the listed sites.

 

If the reader of this guide is a metal detector user and plans to use this guide to locate sites for metal detecting or relic hunting, it is the READER'S responsibility to obtain written permission from the legal property owners. Please be advised, that any state or nationally owned sites will probably be off-limits to metal detector use. Also be aware of any federal, state or local laws restricting the same.

 

When you are exploring the ghost towns of SOUTH DAKOTA, please abide by the Ghost Towner's Code of Ethics.

 

 

 

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THIS PAGE

FIRST POSTED:  January 12, 2002

LAST UPDATED: August 07, 2010

 

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