Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Trip Report Tuesday // SD & WY Trip Day 3 | Friendship Tower, Mount Rushmore, Keystone Boardwalk, & Room with a View

Welcome to this week's trip report!  Today I'll be sharing some family firsts as well as old favorites.  We spent this morning on a trail to a Friendship Tower built in honor of a former president, the afternoon enjoying another president's ice cream recipe, and finished our day in a room with a view of Mount Rushmore!  It was a day to remember and I can't wait to share it all with you all now! 

South Dakota & Wyoming Trip 2021

Day 3 - Friday, June 18, 2021

Thursday morning we bid a fond farewell to the Spearfish Canyon Lodge where we'd made such sweet memories!  I couldn't leave without another long look at this beautiful crystal clear creek that flowed right beside the lodge. 

With hopes that we will return one day, we packed up and headed off into the fun of the second half of our vacation.

Such a lovely drive!

Mount Roosevelt / The Friendship Tower
Deadwood, South Dakota

Time to visit a spot (other than Mount Rushmore) that honors Teddy Roosevelt.  This was the first time we visited the Friendship Tower, in fact this year was the first time we'd even heard of it!  Come along on this pictorial tower tour and I'll let the signs tell you the stories of its origin.

The trail to the tower is a bit of a workout, but it provides stunning views throughout.

This sign read:


Born in Canada in 1847.  Bullock moved to Montana at 18 and was soon elected to the territorial senate.  Seth began a lifelong commitment to public service and conservation with sponsorship of a resolution to establish the Yellowstone area as a national reserve.  

After his move to South Dakota in 1876.  Seth was instrumental in establishing:
-  Wind Cave National Park
-  Devils Tower National Monument in 1906
-  Jewel Cave National Monument in 1908
-  DC Booth National Fish Hatchery

A Chance Meeting

While riding on his Belle Fourche ranch in 1884.  Seth Bullock, now a Deputy U.S. Marshall, saw three horsemen riding across the plains.  He stopped the party as, "they looked like a 'tin-horn gambling outfit.'"  Two men were bringing in a horse thief wanted in Dakota Territory.  One of the men, a Deputy Sheriff from Medora, North Dakota, was a 26-year-old rancher named Theodore Roosevelt.  This chance meeting was the beginning of a very close 35-year relationship between the two men.

Seth & Teddy

Seth and Teddy enjoyed a life-long friendship that included hunting and camping expeditions.  Teddy sent his sons, Ted, Kermit, and Archie to spend summers on the S & B Cattle Company Ranch, where as Roosevelt states, Bullock would teach them hunting and riding, and give them adventures and skills needed to be true "Westerners."

In 1901, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt ensured that Bullock was appointed as the second Forest Supervision of the Black Hills National Forest, a position he held until 1906.

This sign read:

"The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people."
- Theodore Roosevelt

Gold Rush in the Hills

A U.S. government expedition discovered gold in the Black Hills in 1874.  The Black Hills Gold Rush brought rapid growth.  Deadwood's population was at 5,000 people in 1876 and surging.  That growth brought deforestation to the Black Hills stretching for 8 miles around Deadwood.  Builders and miners set up a working economy.  Congress passed the Mining Act of 1872, viewing mining as essential to the economy.  The Act allowed timber harvests on mining claims for the development of minerals.  The Free Timber Act of 1878 allowed everyone access to public forest lands for free timber harvests.  The result was a clear-cut forest for miles.  An estimated 1.5 billion board feet of timber had been harvested by 1898 with almost no regulation

A Time for Regulation

President Grover Cleveland responded to 1897, to increased voter concern about the long-term sustainability of the forest.  He established the National Forestry Commission and the Black Hills Forest Reserve.  The Forest Reserve measure outlawed logging on nearly one million acres of public lands.  This slowed the booming mining industry to a halt, since timber was necessary to support mining operations.

Pinchot Administration

Gifford Pinchot was a member of the National Forestry Commission and an enthusiastic conservationist.  He advocated for adopting efficient, rational and scientifically based management practices that would remove old timber to promote new growth.  Congress passed the Organic Administration Act of 1897, under Pinchot's leadership.  The Act allowed for controlled mining, lumbering, and grazing interests in the Black Hills Forest Reserve.  Pinchot's good friend Theodore Roosevelt appointment Pinchot as the first head of the U.S. Forest Service in 1905.

Graves Rises

Henry Graves succeeded Pinchot as the chief of the U.S. Forest Service five years later.  Graves served as the USFS chief for 10 years.  One of his major accomplishments was passing the Weeks Act of 1911.  This Act increased fire suppression and insect control efforts on public and private lands which was important to the Black Hills.

The early management successes of Roosevelt, Pinchot, and Graves cannot be discounted.  Those successes became the cornerstone of American forestry as it exists today, ensuring the long term viability of a thriving forest and timber source for sustained economic growth.

The girls reading about the tower.

This sign read:

A Castle in the Hills

Resembling a medieval castle, the Friendship Tower is built from native stone, standing 31 feet tall with a 12 foot diameter, on a 16 square foot base.  Twenty mortared steps and an iron hand rail spiral up the inside wall providing access to the wood planked viewing platform which is encased by a 3-foot flared parapet wall.  Eight stone steps accessing the door were removed in 1974.

Monument to a Friend

The Friendship Tower was constructed in 1919, through the efforts of Seth Bullock, lawman, rancher, entrepreneur, and second Forest Supervisor of the Black Hills National Forest, to commemorate the life and death of his personal friend Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt.

Building a Tower

The tower was constructed between March and July of 1919, with financial support from the Society of Black Hills Pioneers.  Architectural plans were developed by C. E. Dawson and H. S. Vincent of Deadwood, SD.

On July 4, 1919, Bullock realized the completion of his dream with the dedication ceremony of the Mount Roosevelt Memorial.  Guest speakers included South Dakota Governor Peter Norbeck.  Seth died just three months later in September.  He was buried above Deadwood Cemetery on Mount Moriah where he would have an unimpeded view of Mount Roosevelt.

Preserving History

Mount Roosevelt was deeded to the United States Forest Service by the Society of Black Hills Pioneers in 1966.  In December 2005, the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its unique architecture and workmanship.  The site is also significant for its representation of Bullock and Roosevelt who were prominent figures in the conservation movement, federal land management, and history at local, regional and national levels.  Restoration and interpretation of the tower, with support from the Deadwood Historical Preservation Commission and the Black Hills Park and Forest Association, will preserve this site and its story for future generations.

My oldest was up there joking about throwing her hair down.  Hehe! 

My favorite view :)

The rest of the family made their way down the steep spiral staircase ahead of me as I lingered just a smidge longer to take in the view and capture it in a few snapshots.


The photo above gives you a peek out one of the cutouts along the sides of the tower.  The staircase was quite treacherous to climb back down.  It's steep and spiraled.  At the sweet advice of my caring hubby I held the hand rail and walked down sort of backwards/sidestepping style.  I made it down safely and was welcomed back down to the ground by a swarm of bees, which was motivation enough to snap a pic of this plaque and then move right along.

Next we hit the road to pick up lunch from a place Jason spotted online with rave reviews, Sugar Shack.

Tastiness in tow we made our way to a pretty picnicking spot.

Pactola Reservoir 

We stopped here during our 2019 trip for a quick bathroom break and thought it was absolutely beautiful.  My favorite vacation planner (aka: my husband) remembered and planned a picnic here for us this vacation.  Reason #197532852 that I adore that man of mine. :)

This burger was scrumptious and along with a generous serving of fries was way more than I could devour on my own, but that didn't stop me from enjoying my share of our order of cheeseballs too.  Yum!

I always find being beside water to be so calming and relaxing.  Just looking back at this blue beauty and the rock in the midst of it topped with our country's colors brought me a happy sigh.

After a very satisfying lunch and time chatting with my loves we climbed back into our SUV and made our way down creekside roads to our next destination of the day.

I love spying Mount Rushmore from afar!

Anyone else adore a cool tunnel?

This tunnel offers a cool view of the Presidents!  I don't recommend walking through it though.  It's for vehicles.  Tourists, I tell ya. :)

Mount Rushmore

No matter how many times I visit this patriotic place I'm still in awe of the craftsmanship.  God has given some people such tremendous ability to work with their hands.  To carve this tribute to presidents of our great nation from rock is simply amazing!

Let's take a closer look at each President.

George Washington

Abraham Lincoln

When Jason and I each visited as kids you could only see these great faces from a distance, but in our girls' lifetime they've added a pathway to view the monument much closer up.  I never take for granted how much better you can see the Presidents, even the markings of the tools that crafted them.

Thomas Jefferson

Theodore Roosevelt

Time for one of my girls' fave SD traditions, ice cream at Mount Rushmore!

While Jason had strawberry cheesecake and our oldest ordered mint chocolate chip, my littlest love and I opted for TJ's vanilla ice cream, a treat advertised here as a "taste of history" based off Thomas Jefferson's original recipe from 1780!

Bye, boys!  We'll see you again tomorrow night!

Off to the lodge where we'd spend the remainder of our vacation, K Bar S Lodge.

We saw K Bar S Lodge online while planning this trip and thought it looked wonderful.  The lodge's grounds are so picturesque that they host many weddings here.  They offer rooms with a Mount Rushmore view, a delicious complimentary breakfast, and it was nearby many of the attractions on our itinerary.  Unfortunately when we were making vacation plans only a month prior to taking the trip, this place was booked solid for our travel dates.  I checked back nearly daily and just a few weeks before we were South Dakota bound one night opened up, then a second!  We were delighted to have the opportunity to stay at this lovely lodge where we'd enjoy a room with a Mount Rushmore view!

I always enjoy a pretty pop of pink!

This room was a comfortable place to rest our heads each night of our stay.  

That door led to the place where I wanted to spend all my free time here, a private patio with a view.

I spy, from our room's private patio, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson too!

How I shared a quick glimpse of our presidential view with my Mount Rushmore loving family back home. :)

After getting settled into our room we went for a stroll to see the stretch of tracks that the 1880 Train passes by upon.  While we didn't take a train ride this trip, we've thoroughly enjoyed it on previous vacations.  We hoped to relax here and wave at passersby, but we didn't quite time being at the hotel with the train's schedule.

Chilling and chatting trackside

 The lodge's cute gazebo

Keystone Boardwalk

This is a longtime favorite spot for us in Keystone and just happened to be right down the street from K Bar S Lodge.  Both sides of the street are lined with shops and eateries.  

Jason ordered a sarsaparilla which always makes me think of Carousel of Progress.  If you know, you know. :)

Dinner at Jane's Boardwalk Pizza

We really enjoy the pizza here, so much so that we often come back  twice per Black Hills vacation.  Stop back by next week to see if we made a repeat visit here this time around!

Us girls shared a half cheese, half pepperoni covered pie and Jason got a small of his own with more fixings.

After dinner, full and tired, we made our way back to the lodge.  Jason and I sat outside on the patio from sunset til moonlight.

At 9:30pm Mount Rushmore holds a lighting ceremony.  It was sweet to watch from afar, cozy on our patio.

This shot shows it as we saw it without a zoom lens to aid us in seeing and snapping photos.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to visit me here today!  I look forward to sharing more from this trip next week - same time, same place! 

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  1. That tower really does look like Rapunzel's! Mount Rushmore is quite a sight. We stayed in a similar hotel, and now I'm wondering if it was the same one! It looks lovely!

  2. What a fun day! And what amazing views! There is so much beauty here in the midwest :) That's so awesome that 2 nights opened up at that lodge during your trip! Looks like an amazing place to stay!

  3. That creek has such pure water! I would love to see Mount Rushmore someday, we just need to get to that part of the United States period!! All of your food looks so scrumptious!


  4. It's clear that we need to find you a can of ultimate defense spray (aka wasp spray!) for any possible interactions with flying creatures OR creepy disinfectant salesmen! ;) Looks like a fantastic way to spend a day AND night!


I would love to hear from you today! I enjoy reading each and every comment I receive. (I do moderate them before they're published. Gotta keep it family friendly! ;)) Let's chat! B.Y.O.C. {Bring Your Own Chocolate!}