One of the famous trails is the Fort Pierre to Deadwood Trail which begins at the end of Hustan Ave in Fort Pierre near the southwest end of the present Colonel Waldron Missouri River Bridge.
Following the discovery of gold in Deadwood in 1875, hordes of prospectors, gamblers and storekeepers headed for the Black Hills which was in the heart of the Great Sioux Reservation. The fact that they were trespassing on Indian land didn’t stop them and they kept coming from all directions. The shortest route to Deadwood was by steamboat from Yankton to Fort Pierre and then this famous trail taking them across prairie and creeks to Deadwood. The wooden sign erected in 1975 stated, “At this point freight from the steamships coming up the Missouri River were unloaded onto oxen-drawn wagons for the 200 miles to Deadwood. The round-trip took 30 days over this famous old trail from 1876 to 1906. From 1876 to 1887, Northwestern Railway operated what they called the Bull Train. The 200 mile trip from Fort Pierre to Deadwood took 15 days. Twenty oxen pulled 3 wagons 20,000# of freight or 1,000# for each ox. They traveled from 4am to 10am, rested and grazed ox till 4pm then went again till dark. Thirty wagons and 200 oxen made the complete Bull Train plus extra 50 head used as replacements”. Roy & Edith Norman, hired hands, families and friends erected the 52 signs every two miles marking the Fort Pierre to Deadwood Trail in 1975 from the Missouri River Bridge in Fort Pierre to the Pennington County line in South Dakota.
Other famous trails near Fort Pierre and Stanley County are as follows:
- Bad River(from Ft Pierre west) Indian Trail may be the oldest old Indian Trail in central SD which was used from Ft Pierre up Bad River by Midland-Philip thru Grindstone to the Black Hills. Indians used this trail long before there were any settlements.
- Ft Bennett (north and a few miles west of Ft Pierre) Army Trail was an old Indian Trail used by Indians in 1830 in 1868 to 1881. The Cheyenne Agency was operated at Ft Bennett. The Military used the Trail from Ft Rice, ND thru Ft Bennett to Ft Kearney, Nebraska.
- The Old Dupree Trail was used by Indians to take their children to Pierre to attend winter session of school. Many wagons traveled together every spring/fall around the turn of the century.
- Cherry Creek Indian Trail to Pierre Indian School was used by many Indians from early 1890 into 1920’s. Long strings of wagons were often seen during spring and fall coming to and from the Indian School.
- Other Indian Trails in central SD included Chiefs Spotted Tail, Hump and Sitting Bull from Leslie/Cherry Creek area to Rosebud and the Black Hills.
- The Telegraph poles/line from Ft Bennett to Philip is also marked with wooden signs.
Roy & Edith Norman families/hired hands made 350+ wooden signs (average cost was $86/sign) and erected them from 1975-1979 on 9 different trails in central SD from the Cheyenne River south to Nebraska border and west from the Missouri River to Grindstone/Pine Ridge/Badlands.
The Historic Trail Sign restoration project has been funded by the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission since 2015 and is being supported by the Verendrye Museum in Fort Pierre with Roy & Edith Norman’s granddaughter, Deb (Stoeser) Schiefelbein managing the project in partnership with the Mike Piroutek Workshop in Milesville, Thompson Fencing in Pierre and the landowners of western South Dakota.
Additional information can be obtained at the SD Cultural Heritage Center, Pierre, SD.