In 1874… Gold was discovered in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory. That year Col. George Armstrong Custer had led a large scientific Expedition to the Black Hills looking for a suitable location to establish a new Fort…and to investigate earlier ‘rumors of Gold’. Indeed, the famous Catholic Missionary, Father Pierre Jean De Smet, had written earlier about seeing gold possessed by Lakota Sioux Indians during his 1840’s Western travels. This 1874 gold find proved unfortunate, however, because even though the 1868 Treaty of Laramie had ‘forever’ granted the Black Hills to the Lakota Band of Indians… the discovery of gold caused a rush of thousands of gold prospectors into the Black Hills that was in clear violation of the Treaty. This created a crises that ultimately brought about the Black Hills War of 1876 – 77, taking the lives of Colonel Custer and five Companies of his 7th Cavalry at the famous 1876 ‘Battle of the Little Bighorn‘.
This post is about one of the lingering after effects from the influx of thousands of prospectors – Ghost Towns. These rapidly built gold mining ‘boom towns‘…lived briefly & lived brilliantly, but most ultimately had to close down when the gold played out… becoming just ghost towns.