Sentinel Butte rerouting completeA landslide earlier this year may have rendered the access road to the top of Sentinel Butte impassible, but a rerouting project is now complete and the tourist attraction that also serves as a communication hotspot is accessible once again.
By: Klark Byrd, The Dickinson Press
A landslide earlier this year may have rendered the access road to the top of Sentinel Butte impassible, but a rerouting project is now complete and the tourist attraction that also serves as a communication hotspot is accessible once again.
The butte, situated south of the town Sentinel Butte, houses eight communication towers for 10 entities, said Golden Valley County Road Foreman Pete Wirtzfeld.
The butte was still accessible by use of a four-wheeler, but Wirtzfeld said getting the road back in order was important.
“That is our only radio communication with the rest of the world,” he said, adding that the point is the means of contact for emergency services, cellphones and rural electric needs in the area.
The new route takes the road around the base of the landslide through private land, where it meets the existing road about halfway to the top. Approximately three-quarters-of-a-mile of new road was constructed. The total trip to the top is shortened by about a half-mile.
Wirtzfeld said removing the dirt would have been too difficult and rerouting was the most cost-effective option.
“It just wasn’t feasible to go on the old route,” he said. “There was a lot of dirt that was going to keep coming down. It was hard to contemplate just how much dirt you would have to move to access the road when it was going to continue sliding.”
The total cost of the project was about $16,000, Wirtzfeld said. Half was paid by the Golden Valley County and half was paid by the communication entities.
In addition to being a site for communication, it is also a historical landmark, Prairie West Development Foundation Director Debra Walworth said.
A memorial for two Arikara sentinels can be found on top of the butte, along with some fossils, Walworth said. Plus, the second highest point in the state offers a pretty scenic picture, she added.
“The view at the top is really amazing because you can see for quite a ways,” Walworth said.
Olson’s Service Station owner Rick Olson said the butte is a nice attraction and having the road back will be a benefit.
“For a lot of tourists it was something they greatly missed,” he said. “It is a great place to look over the country.”
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