Friday, October 26, 2012

The 1880s Train in Keystone, South Dakota

Pics of the Train and Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore
Source: Photo by Author
1880 Steam Train
1880 Steam Train
Source: Photo by Author
1880 Steam Train
1880 Steam Train
Source: Photo by Author

Ride the Train

It was early June, and we were winding up a family vacation with a short trip to check out one of the United States' most famous landmarks--Mount Rushmore. After spending over a week in Colorado with very warm weather, the weather as we woke up in Gilette, Wyoming was a bit of a shock to the system. As we made the relatively short trip to Rapid City and then on down to Mount Rushmore, the weather was quite cool for June (46 F) and drizzly. As we drove toward the monument out of Rapid City, we noticed the fog settling in.

I had my concerns, so we stopped for a pizza before ascending the last couple of miles in our journey.
We strapped the kids into their car seats after our pizza, and began our ascent. Unfortunately, the fog was still there and it obscured the mountain. On the bright side, we did find out that there is a really nice pile of rocks at its base. We debated staying the night, as several decent-looking hotels advertised cheap rates. Instead, while we were eating pizza, we picked up a brochure for a ride on a local steam-driven train.

The 1880 Train runs along an old Black Hills line between the tourist towns of Keystone and Hill City. A round-trip takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes, and offers some great views of some of the nearby mountain peaks of of the Black Hills. The railroad follows Battle Creek which saw an influx of prospectors around the turn of the twentieth century. The conductor on the trip discusses some interesting facts about the locomotive and the surrounding area as the trip proceeds, which is a nice feature of the trip. Concessions are also available for purchase on the train. A round-trip ticket costs $24 for an adult or $12 for a child between 3 and 12 years of age. One-way tickets get a small discount, but you'd have to get your way back to your point of origin if you have no one to meet you at your destination.

This train ride is a great experience as it takes riders back to the primary mode of mass transportation for late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Americans. While the locomotive does not travel as fast as a car, it is quite relaxing. Surprisingly, our small children seemed to enjoy most of the ride and were fairly well-behaved.

As we rode the train, we started to see breaks in the clouds. Fortunately, we to advantage of this after our ride, and drove up the mountain to see Mount Rushmore. It's a great national monument, but it's definitely not all that there is to do in the Keystone area.

No comments:

Post a Comment