Ft. Pierre to Deadwood Wagon Trail update

Western South Dakota history ... George Gittings shows wagon trail explorers, Sam Seymour and Paul Seamans, a firepit used on the Ft. Pierre to Deadwood trail.

Lonis Wendt of the Verendrye Museum in Ft. Pierre reported that after only 30 days of being open at the end of 2007, 160 of the 300 spots have been filled for the planned Ft. Pierre to Deadwood wagon train. He stated that not enough have been filled by South Dakotans.

The train will leave Ft. Pierre on Wednesday, July 30th, and will pull into Deadwood on Friday, August 15th. Each registered participant will receive a certificate that they have ridden on the train. They will also receive a numbered button, which they can loan to someone else as a temporary substitute on the trail ride. There is a participation cost per adult and per youth.

Scheduled speakers, which include locals, professionals and college professors, will be at each of the wagon trail evening stops. Wendt said, "We are going to share the history from place to place." There will be two days of rest for restocking of supplies and for ranchers to return home and do chores.

Campsites and noon stops are already set. Fresh drinking water will be delivered at each spot. Some of the paid-for meals are already being lined up. The organizers are inviting 4-H groups and others to provide, for pay, meals "so as to be part of the wagon trail experience," said Wendt. There are plans being worked out to butcher a buffalo at one of the stops.

The train will cover about 15 miles per day. It will camp at Ottumwa northwest of Midland. The wagon train will stop on August 5th at Boyd Waara's place near 11 Mile Road north of Philip. The next evening will be at Grindstone.

The wagon train will be featured in a parade in Deadwood. Wendt said, "We expect to be followed by umpteen riders from Sturgis on." Other groups might also participate in the parade, most likely a 10-plus wagon train that will follow the Cheyenne Trail and another wagon train that will be on the Sydney, NE, to Deadwood Trail.

South Dakota Public Broadcasting System will record at least some of the Ft. Pierre to Deadwood wagon train. So far, there are nine states represented.

"George Gittings was one of the first landowners to start showing the the original organizers, the "scouts," the historic wagon trail," said Wendt. "We were originally laying out the trail just to save it."