Historic Keystone South Dakota

We will skip quickly over the Yellowstone part of the trip – not because we didn’t enjoy it – because we did. But I don’t want to inflict on you all 300+ pictures of geysers and bubbling mud pots that my children took. 🙂

Well – okay – just one – to prove that we were there! I love this one from Mammoth Hot Springs!

Mammoth Hot Springs

Now – I will jump on to the Black Hills portion of the trip – especially our stay in Keystone.

One of our reasons for this trip out west was the Black Hills stop. Jan’s Uncle Don is the only living original carver of Mount Rushmore. He grew up in Keystone and started out as a water boy before moving up the ranks.

He’s been in several TV documentaries and has written a book. He and his wife Carolyn (Jan’s mom’s sister) live in Rapid City now and I really want my kids to know him. The older ones remember a little – but the younger ones have no memories of our last trip.

We were so disappointed to get a phone call from Aunt Carolyn -the day before we were scheduled to get to Rapid – that Uncle Don had fallen and broken his hip.  He would be in surgery the day we arrived. 😦

We did stop at the hospital and had a nice visit with Aunt Carolyn – but weren’t able to see Uncle Don this trip. Hmm…I guess that means we need to go back! 🙂

Thankfully we had perfect weather for our hike up Harney Peak and around Sylvan Lake but as we finished up the wild life loop in Custer State Park, the  weather turned on us. The temperature that night hovered around freezing with sleet and freezing rain.

Uncle Don and Aunt Carolyn graciously offered us the use of the Keystone House – the house Don grew up in – while we were in the area.   They bought it several years ago and restored it. What a blessing!  It would have been a miserable night in the pop-up!


It was almost like sleeping in a museum! There was so much history around us – articles, newspapers, and pictures. My favorite picture was one of Uncle Don sitting under George Washington’s nose on the face of Rushmore.  We tried to get a picture of the picture – but it didn’t turn out.

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The house is on the Historic Keystone tour – it’s free and I highly recommend it – and is just down the hill from the old school that is now a museum featuring Carrie Ingalls memorabilia (of Little House and the Prairie fame).   Carrie married David Swanzey, who ran the depot in Keystone. (Uncle Don used to deliver her newspaper!)

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Further down the hill from the Keystone House is another part of the historic tour -the Halley General Store. Oh my – did we have fun here! They have everything from the antique, to the historic, to the outrageous.

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Like this bear skin coat that Matt is modeling.  The sign said to go ahead and try it on and pose for a picture – so he did!

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How about a genuine Texas Ranger badge? The kids really drooled over this one – but decided the price was a bit high for their limited budget.

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Then there’s this – well – um – tool.  Now that’s one mighty big wrench!

It was a great way to spend some time during a cold and miserable weekend.

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Especially since the views of Mount Rushmore weren’t so good! (So can you make out the presidents behind their heads?!)

Since Jan lived in the Rapid City when he was younger and visited Uncle Don and Aunt Carolyn frequently over the years – he knew the area very well. We spent the rest of our time there checking out some of his favorite places before packing up one last time and heading back home.

Another memory made – even though it wasn’t quite the one I had hoped for!