Deadwood’s Days of ’76 Museum receives $250,000 from SD Department of Transportation
DEADWOOD – Deadwood’s Days of ’76 Museum is pleased to announce an award of $250,000 from the South Dakota Department of Transportation’s Transportation Enhancement Stimulus Grant program, to be used for construction of a new museum facility.
State DOT Secretary Darin P. Bergquist called the gift a “wonderful opportunity to assist a growing community like Deadwood.” DOT Commissioner and Deadwood resident Mike Trucano said, “I am as excited as the museum board and staff at this news. The Days of ’76 organization and museum is an important resource for our community and our state, and the preservation of these historic vehicles is a worthwhile goal.”
The purpose of transportation enhancement funds is to allocate resources to projects that enhance the transportation system through preservation of visual and cultural resources and that improve the quality of life for South Dakota citizens.
The Days of ’76 Museum includes the largest collection of horse drawn vehicles in the state and the previous building housing this collection is in need of deep repairs. This grant will help fund construction to replace the current pole barn facility which is inadequate to properly care for the museum’s collections.
Since 1924 the museum’s vehicles have been used in a historic annual parade that honors the pivotal history when gold was discovered in Deadwood Gulch in 1876. The museum’s collection of over 50 vehicles provides an irreplaceable historic resource that documents the important role horse drawn vehicles played in the development of South Dakota during the territory and early statehood era. Vehicles including a rare original Deadwood stagecoach, four hearses, fire wagons, and freight wagons such as those that carried our ancestors across the plains, are among those that comprise a resource that helps current and future generations understand the lives of the people who came before us, who grew deep roots to build our state.
In addition to the transportation vehicles, the museum also includes the City-owned Clowser Collection of American Indian and Old West Pioneer art and artifacts, as well as rodeo and historic clothing collections.
The vehicles are currently displayed lined up in rows, with minimal labeling and interpretation. Carriage historian Merri Ferrell points out that a “carriage’s side is its front,” and to properly view and understand horse drawn vehicles, they should be viewed from the side, and from a greater distance than the current museum allows. The new, larger museum will allow more space for carriage display, as well as in-depth interpretation. Planning and design for the museum has been underway for over a year, with construction scheduled to begin in the fall of this year and an anticipated opening date of spring/summer 2011.
The City of Deadwood launched the museum’s capital campaign with a gift of $3,000,000. Additional funding for the project has come from private and public businesses, corporations, foundations, individuals and government agencies. Fundraising continues, and to learn more about this project, visit the museum website at http://www.daysof76museum.com.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 23, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News