And You Think Your Roads Are Bad... | Black Hills Travel Blog
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Stage Road in Fort Meade Recreation Area

Okay, so it might not look like much, but it's probably the coolest thing I came across in Fort Meade Recreation Area. This is what's left of the stagecoach trail that linked Deadwood with Sidney, Nebraska during the 1870s and 1880s. A small town of only about 6,000 people today, Sidney was pretty happenin' back in the 19th century.

Founded shortly after the Civil War in one of those railroad-military alliances that were pretty common on the Frontier, Sidney was the principal city of western Nebraska for several decades. But according to the city's website, the town didn't really take off until the Black Hills gold rush. Even though it's almost 300 miles away, Sidney had the closest railroad depot to Deadwood's gold mines, making it a pretty popular transfer point for people moving in - and bringing gold out.

Until the railroad started to lay new track in the late 1880s, the only route connecting Deadwood's gold fields and the rest of the world were roads like these. There isn't much of it left, but the road is still distinct. And with Bear Butte off in the distance, it makes for a pretty nice picture...

To access the Fort Meade Recreation Area, exit Interstate 90 just south of Sturgis (exit 34). Follow Old Stone Road east for a little over a mile. A marker on the west side of the road will show you how to find the old stagecoach road. It's a hike of about 40 yards from the marker to the old ruts in this picture.

Aside from the aesthetics and history, discovering a scene like this in person also makes you appreciate the modern automobile. Let's just say that I have no interest in traveling 300 miles on this road at all, let alone in a vehicle with, at best, a leather suspension system. Yikes.

About the Author

Dustin is a fifth-generation South Dakotan, grew up exploring the forested gulches of the Black Hills. While studying at Oxford University, Dustin discovered the amazing combination of student discounts and the European rail system, and set off to see the continent. Eleven countries, five trains, a Greek fishing boat and several pubs later, Dustin realized a deep affinity for travel. Although he’s journeyed across three continents since then, the Black Hills remain one of his favorite places to explore. Now a member of the Western Writers of America, Dustin has penned several travel guides on the Black Hills, Badlands, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming for publishers including Fodor’s and Globe Pequot.

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