“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Custer in Custer County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Campsite of General Custer's Expedition

August 1 - 6, 1874

Campsite of General Custer's Expedition Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, June 7, 2011
1. Campsite of General Custer's Expedition Marker
Inscription.  This picturesque valley was the site of the permanent camp of the Black Hills Expedition of 1874 under the command of General George A. Custer of the 7th Cavalry. Their 5 day stay was the longest stop made during the entire expedition and General Custer used this campsite as a base for reconnaissance trips to other points in the Black Hills.

The expedition party totaled about 1000 men, 1900 horses and mules, 300 beef cattle and 110 wagons. In addition to the cavalry, the personnel included nearly 100 Indian scouts, guides, interpreters, engineers, newspaper correspondents, two practical miners, and a photographer. This is said to have been the largest and best equipped expedition ever assembled, up to that time, for military exploration duty in the Northwest. The entire valley was scattered with their tents and wagons during their stay.

Gold was first discovered in French Creek, which runs through the valley, by Horatio N. Ross. This discovery of gold led to the first Miners' Organization in the Black Hills which formed around a campfire on August 5, 1874. Because of the discovery of gold here, General Custer gave to this place
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the name of "Golden Valley."

General Custer sent a scout messenger out from this camp to carry the word to Ft. Laramie that gold had been discovered on French Creek. This caused a stampede over the country to force entrance into these forbidden Back Hills. Late in December 1874, the first settlers, the Collins-Russell party, under the guidance of John Gordon, reached this site. Thousands of gold seekers soon followed.
Erected 1971 by Custer Co. Hist. Soc., State Hist. Soc., and State Highway Dept. (Marker Number 448.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ExplorationNotable Events. In addition, it is included in the South Dakota State Historical Society Markers series list. A significant historical month for this entry is December 1874.
Location. 43° 46.216′ N, 103° 32.304′ W. Marker is in Custer, South Dakota, in Custer County. Marker is on Stockade Lake Road (U.S. 16) close to County Route 346. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Custer SD 57730, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A Legacy of Debate (approx. 0.4 miles away); Anna Donna Tallent (approx. 0.4 miles away); Prospectors in Search of Gold (approx. 0.4 miles away); An Expedition of Mixed Outcomes (approx. 0.4 miles away);
The Black Hills image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, June 7, 2011
2. The Black Hills
An Agreement Between Cultures (approx. half a mile away); Glen Erin School (approx. 1.2 miles away); Stockade Lake Bridge (approx. 1.2 miles away); Miners Meet 1875 (approx. 2.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Custer.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 4, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 1, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,758 times since then and 288 times this year. Last updated on September 4, 2021, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 1, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.

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Sep. 24, 2023