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Monday, December 30, 2013

There's Gold in the Black Hills

Gold fever first came to the Black Hills, when in the summer of 1874, an expedition led by Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer discovered gold in the Black Hills.  Under the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, mining was not allowed as this region belonged to the Plains Indians.  Gold fever became an infection, unfortunately that spread quickly and a group of gold seekers from Sioux City, Iowa moved into the Black Hills the following winter. 

The Gordon Party built a log fortress on the bank of  French Creek just inside the current boundaries of Custer State Park, near Stockade Lake.  The Gordon Party's endeavor was not very profitable, and in five months they were removed for violating the treaty by the US Cavalry.  The Gordon Party however signaled the first of what would be a rush of over 10,000 fortune seekers to the Black Hills.  These miners illegally inhabited Lakota's sacred land.  To the Lakota mining for gold in the Black Hills was obstructing the true treasure - the beauty of the land itself! Gold led to further conflict in the area, but also opened up new trade and defined the region's economy...it created the rough and tumble town of Deadwood, which I will blog about soon...

Today you can tour a recreation of the original Stockade Fort, then spend the afternoon relaxing at Stockade Lake, hiking the Stockade Lake Trail and picnicking on the banks of this idyllic patch of 'golden paradise' while reading 'Murder in Custer State Park.'



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