History to be revisited on the Sidney to Deadwood Trail

Fences weren't something pioneers had to deal with, but organizers for this year's Sidney-Deadwood trail ride have put a lot of work into getting permission to travel through the area and making sure both horses and wagons can safely follow the route. Photo courtesy Nadine Radkte.

Back in the day before railroads in the area, the Sidney, Nebraska, to Deadwood, South Dakota, trail was used by wagon train pioneers and freighters. You will have the opportunity to experience the life of such a traveler later this summer. At the end of trail will be Deadwood, where the wagon trains and riders will be featured in a celebration upon arrival. The Days of ’76 Museum will offer the ride beginning Aug. 27, east of Ardmore, South Dakota, and continuing through the Sept.t. 5, arrival in Deadwood. Proceeds from the ride will benefit for the Deadwood Days of ’76 Museum.

Although the organizers are calling this route the Sidney to Deadwood wagon train, this ride will utilize a combination of two historic trails—the Sidney to Deadwood and the Cheyenne to Deadwood.

The Sidney to Deadwood Trail traversed the prairie to Deadwood whereas the Cheyenne to Deadwood went many miles through the forested Black Hills. With this ride taking place in late August, the organizers combined parts of both trails to make it a more comfortable route for the horses as well as the people.

Jon Mattson, Sturgis, and his associates have been scouting a route for the past several months in order to find the most accommodating passage, particularly for the horses. Participant numbers will be capped at 350 people and from past experiences by these organizers, that is a likely total.

The selected course will follow the historical trails where possible, but due to many factors it will not be exact. One of the organizers, Gorden Odell, Belle Fourche said, “The plan is to keep the use of pavement to a minimum and to travel cross-country as much as possible. It will be a mix of private and US Forest Service land.”

With fixed expenses for the wagon train, each adult participant will pay $160 and receive a badge showing membership. Children under 12 can ride at no charge. The approximately 100-mile ride will take nine days and participants are not required to go along the entire time; they can give their membership badge to someone else, provided an additional liability form is signed. Day 6 will be a rest day at Custer, South Dakota. That will allow for sightseeing to Crazy Horse Mountain, Mt. Rushmore and other spots around the area, while the livestock rests.

Participants bring their RVs or their bedrolls as housing is not provided. Each afternoon provisions are made to move the vehicles to the next location with a shuttle service.

Supper will be served to the general public and the trail riders, for a cost, by organizations or caterers. After the meal, speakers will talk briefly about the history of the trails and the local area, giving a perspective on the wagon train and ride. Porta-potties will be on site at each overnight stop. A water truck will be provided for the animals. The organizers welcome the local people to the evening sites to view the wagons, talk to the participants and listen to the speakers and musicians as they weave the history of the trails and events of that historical time.

An application and release of liability statement are available on this website: .

The Trail planned locations that have been identified to date and are subject to change are:

(all locations are in South Dakota)

Aug 27 – first night, east of Ardmore, Jack Hunter’s

Aug 28 – overnight at Star Cattle Company, Hot Springs, (Bernice Landers)

Aug 29 – overnight at Terry Hammel’s big barn west of Hot Springs, (HWY 18) chuck wagon supper by Rick Kaan, musical entertainment

Aug 30 – Nearest town: Pringle

Aug 31 – Nearest town: Custer, (4 Mile)

Sept. 1 – Nearest town: Custer, (BREAK – rest day)

Sept. 2 – Nearest town: Hill City, (4 Corner Well)

Sept. 3 – Nearest town: Rochford, (Camp 5)

Sept. 4 – Nearest town: Rochford, (Carstans)

Sept. 5 – Arrive in Deadwood

For additional information contact:

Nadine Radtke 605-415-1262, or Jon Mattson 605-920-1447, .

As the saying goes, “All roads lead to Deadwood,” as South Dakota’s historic wagon trains demonstrate. In 2008 the Ft. Pierre to Deadwood trail was followed, as closely as possible, by wagon train and outriders. In 2010 the Miles City to Deadwood wagon train was done in 2010. The Medora to Deadwood wagon train took place in 2013.

Don’t worry if you haven’t got your own wagon; you can hitch a ride, although you will still have to pay your registration fee and sign the waivers. Outriders on horseback are welcome with the same considerations.

It is your chance to be re-live history.