Daily Archives: May 25, 2017

Another 70 Years?

Jan and I were out the door by 11am, heading south to Hill City and the 1880 Train ride about an hour away..

We had allowed plenty of time because if you miss your train, you’re out of luck. No refunds. So since I bought our tickets yesterday online, all I had to do was pick them up at the train station, and then wait.

The locomotive came backing into the station pulling the train behind it. Which meant at the other end of  the route, Keystone, they didn’t have a wye or a turntable, but used a runaround track to move the locomotive to the other end of the train for the trip back to Hill City

1880 Train Coming Into Station

The engine uncoupled from the far end of the cars, coming back to the other end to take on water at the tower before coupling to the new head of the train for the next run.

1880 Train Water Tower

1880 Train taking on water

The trip to Keystone at the other end of the track, and near Mt. Rushmore, takes about an hour to travel the 10 miles, so you do the math. A speedster it’s not.

The enclosed cars are immaculate, unlike some trains we’ve been on. Really nice, with comfortable padded seats.

1880 Train Car

Getting to Keystone, they brought the engine out onto the runaround track for a little servicing and some more water.

1880 Train Service at Keystone

Then they coupled it to the other end of the train, which is how it ends up running in reverse coming back into Hill City.

1880 Train Keystone Runaround

So while we were the first car behind the engine on the outbound run, we were bringing up the rear coming home.

1880 Train on a Curve

We arrived back in Hill City about 3:30, which was the final run for the day. Then after hitting the gift shop for a couple of things, we had some time to kill before dinner.

So while we were waiting for the Alpine Inn to open at 5, we decided to make the 10 mile drive down to the Crazy Horse monument. We were interested to see if they had made any noticeable progress since we last visited in 2008.

And the answer is . . .

2008 Visit

Crazy Horse 2008

2017 Visit

Crazy Horse 2017

So the answer is NO!

The only thing really different is that they’ve cleared the rubble along the side so you can now see the full outline of where the horse’s head is going to be.

Since they started working on it in 1948, 70 years ago, I figure it’s going to be at least another 70 years before they finish.

Here’s what it’s supposed to look like when it’s finished.

Crazy Horse Sculpture

I think I would be worried that the pointing finger will break off under its own weight, as well as the arm itself. Maybe that’s why they’re going so slow.

If something falls off, they’re screwed. Doubt they can glue it back on.

Getting back into Hill City and the Alpine Inn a little before 5pm, we found we didn’t want to eat there tonight. We had come for their well-recommended German cuisine, but it turns out that they only serve that on the lunch menu.

The dinner menu is prix fixe, with only two items on the menu – a bacon-wrapped filet, and a German noodle dish. Neither of which we wanted. We’ll catch them for lunch another time.

Checking Yelp, we chose Desperados, a place right down the street.


Turns out it’s housed in the oldest hand-hewn log building in South Dakota. Built in 1885 as saloon and hotel, it’s also been a newspaper office, a fix-it shop, a fly-tying  shop, a book and gun shop, a stained glass shop, and a bunch of other things. In fact it’s been continuously occupied since it was built.

Quite a record.

And now as a restaurant, it was still great.

Deparado's Dining  Room

Jan had the Chicken Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans,

Desparados CFS

while I had the Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans..

Desparados CFS

Yes, it’s the same photo, since they both looked exactly the same.

This was a great meal. The breading on the meat was really good, as was the gravy. Just perfect.

And while we were at the restaurant I saw this photo on the wall, showing the face of Crazy Horse from the outstretched arm.

Crazy Horse Face

Looks a lot better this way. And I guess they must have an elevator of some sort to get all those people up there.

Coming back home by another route, we passed Mt. Rushmore but really couldn’t see it due to the sun being in our eyes. We’ll be coming back here after the holiday is over.

Back in Rapid City, we made a quick Safeway stop for a few things, as well as Starbuck’s Cinnamon Dolce Latte’s for the road, finally getting home about 7:30.

Passport America, Save 50% on Campsites

I’ll flesh out some more of today’s adventure in tomorrow’s blog.

O,h, and Sheldon will be happy to know that the train cars used the Janney coupler, and not the original link-and-pin coupler or the Miller hook & platform.

Thought for the Day:

My sense of humor may offend your feelings. I suggest you get over it.