Mount Rushmore Road Trip Part 8

16 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 8 Wednesday 


This morning I had to back track thru Lusk on my way to the Black Hills National Forest in SD.  At Mule Creek Junction I turned off US-85,  onto US-18 and headed east.  In its day, this interrsection served as the north-south Cheyenne to Deadwood stage route, and the east-west Oregon Trail Route.  

Another 20 miles east on US-18 and I visited The Gun Vault located in Edgemont, SD.  This turned out to be a sales and service shop dealing with all types of new and used guns.

As I was leaving Edgemont, I was surprised to see hundreds of diesei train engines lined up in the rail yard.  I stopped to take a photo so I could tell my son, Billy, about them.  This railroad worker came up to my car and ask who I was and why I was taking photos.  I explained and he said, “You need to be careful who sees you taking photos of these engines.”  He went on to explain how the sale of these engines was very contriversial and some ‘people’ could misintruperate what I was doing.  I made a hasty retreat. 

On my way to visit the Crazy Horse Monument, I passed thru Pringle, SD and stopped to take a photo of the “Bicycle Sculpure.“  This is nothing more than a huge pile of rusting bicycles that some people call art.  The pile has evedently taken various shapes over the years (since 1980), but it just looks like a junkyard to me.  

I continued another 15 miles north on US-385 to visit the 4-Mile Old West Town Museum located in Custer, SD.  This old west town and museum consists of 50 buildings assembled in such a mammer as to show guests what life  was like in the 1880s Dakota Territory.  It is a treasure trove of early western pioneer life historical artifacts and memorabilia.

It was only another 5 miles north on US-16 to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  This monument is being carved out of the Thunderhead Mountain (since 1948) to honor the Oglala Lakota warrior, Chief Crazy Horse, who is known for leading the attack against US Army troops at the battle of the Little Big Horn (1876).  A model of the finished monument is shown below, with the unfinished moument in the background.

As I wound my way north thru the Custer State Park, I spotted people stopped along the road and saw that they were taking photos of some buffalo grazing in a medow.  Believe it or not, this was the first free-range (live) buffalo I have ever seen in all my travels!  The next thing I knew some really jagged rock formations appeared.  They looked a lot like the rock formations I had seen at the Garden of the Gods area in Colorado.

I was still headed north on US-16 toward Hill City, but the road was slow going (25 mph) as it twisted and turned thru the park.  Then I came around a curve and the road went thru the Needle Eye Tunnel.  I just had to get a photo of that tunnel.  Luckily, when I came out of the tunnel, there was a turn-off where I could stop and take a picture.


Another 10 miles north on US-16 and I found the South Dakota State Railroad Museum located in Hill City, SD.   The museum is located at the old 1880s Hill City Depot and displays local railroad artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the railroad in the Black Hills area dating from the mid-1800s.  The 1880 Train is also operates out of  the Hill City Depot.  This original steam operated train offers a 3-hour (roundtrip) daily ride in their restored vintage 1800s train cars from Hill City to Keystone.  The 1880 Train also offers special train ride events, including student field trips, during their annual season of operation.

As I was leaving the museum, I overheard a couple of guys talking about the diesel locomotive sales.  Finally I asked them about how many locomotives were involved and they told me there were about 1000 at Edgemont and another 2000 in other rail yards in the state.  I was amazed at the enormity of it all.

On the way to the motel I stopped and picked up another “Heat-&-Serve Broccoli Chedder Au Gratin to eat in my room.  It was yummy and I was satisfied to record my days activities and talk to DiVoran for a while.  Then it was off to ZZZ-Land for me after a really long day.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

3 Responses to “Mount Rushmore Road Trip Part 8”

  1. Onisha Ellis December 22, 2020 at 9:58 pm #

    One of the places I most wanted to visit last August was the Needles area. I enjoyed your photo of the tunnel.


  2. itsrebekahlyn December 16, 2020 at 9:08 am #

    You have sparked my curiosity. Why is the sale of the train engines so controversial?


    • William J Lites December 16, 2020 at 9:48 am #

      My guess is that it is about who they are being sold to and for how much.


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