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

Spearfish Canyon Through Time

Bridal Veil Falls

Spearfish Canyon Through Time Marker image. Click for full size.
By Ruth VanSteenwyk, September 29, 2018
1. Spearfish Canyon Through Time Marker

"But how it is that I've heard so little of this miracle and we, toward the Atlantic, have heard so much of the Grand Canyon when this is even more miraculous? All the better eventually… (that the Dakotas are not on the through line to the coast).

No, I shall be burned for a heretic when I make the statement. But I should be thanked as a prophet and hailed as a discoverer by that jaded public who have 'seen everything' and stick to the 'through lines'. The greatest scenic wonders of the world I know now are touched on grand safe highways but not on railroads. My hat is off to South Dakota's treasures.

Nature seeds from man not imitation but interpretation. A third type of earthly marvel [Spearfish Canyon] was now added to the two (Badlands and Black Hills). All unique and unparalleled elsewhere in our country."

-Excerpts from a letter by world-renowned
Architect, Frank Lloyd Wright,
September 28, 1935,
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation 1995.

Bridal Veil Falls and Spearfish Canyon have been popular tourist attractions for many years. For over a century visitors have been traveling ot Spearfish Canyon to see its majestic waterfalls, sheer rock cliffs and colorful autumn trees.

Since the waterfall was first seen by early pioneers it has been called many names,
Spearfish Canyon Through Time Marker image. Click for full size.
By Ruth VanSteenwyk, September 29, 2018
2. Spearfish Canyon Through Time Marker
among them, Lower Spearfish Canyon Falls.

The Many Uses of Spearfish Canyon

Thousands of years ago Native American tribes lived, hunted and practice traditional ceremonies in the Black Hills. Today several tribes including the Oceti Sakowin, the seven council fires of the Great Sioux Nation, still consider the Black Hills their traditional homeland. These tribes have oral histories about the Black Hills that have been passed down for generations.

In 1879, the Homestake Mining Company diverted Spearfish Creek into several flumes for their hydro-electric plants in Spearfish Canyon. The original Homestake power plants, clay-pipe waterlines, and pump houses seen throughout the Canyon are still in use today.

As early as 1913, automobiles were traveling through the Canyon. The route known as the "Black and Yellow Trail" became popular for traveling from the Black Hills to Yellowstone National Park. Eventually, portions of the old railroad beds and the trail were paved into what is now Highway 14A.

The Railroad

The "Spearfish Line" was built by the Grand Island and Wyoming Central Railroad, a subsidiary of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad. Trans began running in 1893.

In 1904, the company was merged into the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. In 1933, a massive flood damaged the railroad beyond repair, and the remaining rails were dismantled as far back as the mining camp of Portland (near Terry Peak) in 1934 and 1935. The railroad grade is still visible just below the waterfall.

-Rick Mills, South Dakota State
Railroad Museum

(picture captions)

Bridal Veil Falls, All Ice, 1909.
The Black and Yellow Trail Pathfinders, 1913.
Women Fishing in (Spearfish) Creek, 1910.
Men Surveying, 1909-1910.
Bridal Veil Falls, circa 1910.
Approach to Spearfish Canyon from Crown Hill near (Terry Peak, early 1900s.
Background: Tracks running through Spearfish Canyon in 1911 at Robber Roost Curve by W.B.Perkins.
Erected by Black Hills National Forest, US Forest Service, Department of Agriculture.
Location. 44° 24.985′ N, 103° 52.858′ W. Marker is in Spearfish, South Dakota, in Lawrence County. Marker is on U.S. 14A 6 miles south of Business 90, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Spearfish SD 57783, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Spearfish Canyon Flora and Fauna (here, next to this marker); Civilian Conservation Corps Camp (approx. 5 miles away); Second Deadwood Gold Discovery (approx. 6.9 miles away); The Glover House (approx. 7 miles away); City Hall and Masonic Temple (approx. 7 miles away); Christ Episcopal Church and Grier Statue (approx. 7 miles away); Thomas Johnston Grier (approx. 7 miles away); Dakota Rebekah Lodge (approx. 7.1 miles away).
Categories. Native AmericansParks & Recreational AreasRailroads & StreetcarsWaterways & Vessels
Credits. This page was last revised on October 3, 2018. This page originally submitted on October 2, 2018, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 35 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 2, 2018, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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