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South Dakota: Bad River Trail Drive celebrates Scotty Philip

Lonis Wendt

A historic trail ride, which follows the old Bad River Trail from Philip, SD, through Midland to Ft. Pierre, SD, is scheduled for July 16-23, 2011.

The ride begins during “Scotty Philip Days” at Philip’s namesake, Philip, SD, and highlights a trio of West River South Dakota’s most celebrated communities. Participants will join hands with local landowner/ranchers to commemorate the life and times of Scotty Philip, often called, “the man who saved the buffalo,” who died July 23, 1911.

The Ft. Pierre Verendrye Museum Association sponsored event will follow an exhilarating journey through the scenic Bad River valley and will offer participants and spectators a magnificent, close-up view of the real “Bad River” in its natural state – its colors; its wide, fertile flats; its flood-carved, steep river banks; and an acute awareness of its dangers. Riders will also get a glimpse of original post office locations, race track locations, old river crossings, giant trees and an aging walk-bridge used during high-water periods, allowing ranchers to tend their herds or get the kids to school from either side of the river.

Another highlight of the event will be the route through the Ted Turner Buffalo ranch, where Scotty Philip’s “Saving the Buffalo” legacy lives between grass-covered plains and blue sky. Along the trail, riders will visit several small, mostly abandoned towns which had taken root when the railroad inched its way west in 1906-07.

Midland, SD, a viable, busy small town on the river is located equally between the Missouri and the Cheyenne rivers. It’s also where, in 1890, J.C. Russell first opened his General store, a store often visited by Scotty Philip and his neighbors. Powell, Nowlin, Capa, Bovine, Van Meter, Wendte and Teton are other townsites on the trail.

The Bad River Trail mostly followed old Indian trails. Beginning around 1881, when ranches began to appear along the river, the trail served as a route to civilization for essential supplies at Pierre/Ft. Pierre and access to steamboats and trains for the pioneering cowboys, including Scotty Philip, Dan Powell, Tom Jones, the Jarmins, Madsens, LaPlantes, Ducheneaus, Livermonts and others for more than 25 years. A graded, mostly graveled road now serves the locals and visitors, but look for a cowboy with a long loop in bad weather!

The Bad River has left its own legacy of devastating floods, ice jams, drownings of both man and beast, and an abundance of nature’s gifts. Once the home to Indian villages, open-range cattle companies, homesteaders and real-life, bronco-bustin’ cowboys, the river is now home to scores of honest, hard-working, progressive ranch families, including several 100-year family ranches, most of whom believe in keeping the luscious grass right-side up and the West River legacy alive and well.

As a bonus, Darby Nutter will again serve as Trail Boss for the ride, and Gerald Kessler will serve as Wagon-master deluxe. History programs and music round out the evening agenda. Everyone is encouraged and welcome to join in this historic event.

Applications are available by calling 605-223-3255 or by e-mail to: verendrye@dakota2k.net.

A historic trail ride, which follows the old Bad River Trail from Philip, SD, through Midland to Ft. Pierre, SD, is scheduled for July 16-23, 2011.

The ride begins during “Scotty Philip Days” at Philip’s namesake, Philip, SD, and highlights a trio of West River South Dakota’s most celebrated communities. Participants will join hands with local landowner/ranchers to commemorate the life and times of Scotty Philip, often called, “the man who saved the buffalo,” who died July 23, 1911.

The Ft. Pierre Verendrye Museum Association sponsored event will follow an exhilarating journey through the scenic Bad River valley and will offer participants and spectators a magnificent, close-up view of the real “Bad River” in its natural state – its colors; its wide, fertile flats; its flood-carved, steep river banks; and an acute awareness of its dangers. Riders will also get a glimpse of original post office locations, race track locations, old river crossings, giant trees and an aging walk-bridge used during high-water periods, allowing ranchers to tend their herds or get the kids to school from either side of the river.

Another highlight of the event will be the route through the Ted Turner Buffalo ranch, where Scotty Philip’s “Saving the Buffalo” legacy lives between grass-covered plains and blue sky. Along the trail, riders will visit several small, mostly abandoned towns which had taken root when the railroad inched its way west in 1906-07.

Midland, SD, a viable, busy small town on the river is located equally between the Missouri and the Cheyenne rivers. It’s also where, in 1890, J.C. Russell first opened his General store, a store often visited by Scotty Philip and his neighbors. Powell, Nowlin, Capa, Bovine, Van Meter, Wendte and Teton are other townsites on the trail.

The Bad River Trail mostly followed old Indian trails. Beginning around 1881, when ranches began to appear along the river, the trail served as a route to civilization for essential supplies at Pierre/Ft. Pierre and access to steamboats and trains for the pioneering cowboys, including Scotty Philip, Dan Powell, Tom Jones, the Jarmins, Madsens, LaPlantes, Ducheneaus, Livermonts and others for more than 25 years. A graded, mostly graveled road now serves the locals and visitors, but look for a cowboy with a long loop in bad weather!

The Bad River has left its own legacy of devastating floods, ice jams, drownings of both man and beast, and an abundance of nature’s gifts. Once the home to Indian villages, open-range cattle companies, homesteaders and real-life, bronco-bustin’ cowboys, the river is now home to scores of honest, hard-working, progressive ranch families, including several 100-year family ranches, most of whom believe in keeping the luscious grass right-side up and the West River legacy alive and well.

As a bonus, Darby Nutter will again serve as Trail Boss for the ride, and Gerald Kessler will serve as Wagon-master deluxe. History programs and music round out the evening agenda. Everyone is encouraged and welcome to join in this historic event.

Applications are available by calling 605-223-3255 or by e-mail to: verendrye@dakota2k.net.


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