Historical ride: Horsemen and horsewomen can experience a trip taken by travelers in the 1880sThe ride that was taken many years ago will soon be open to modern-day trail riders.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
The ride that was taken many years ago will soon be open to modern-day trail riders.
During the 1880s, the Medora-to-Deadwood Trail was taken by stagecoach, wagon and horseback travelers from South Dakota to what is now North Dakota. The Museum of Deadwood, S.D. will be hosting the ride and they have already seen a big turnout of applications just in the first couple weeks.
“I think we’ve got close to 50 signed up already and we’ve only been taking applications for two to three weeks,” museum president Jon Mattson said. “We feel it’s going good. I’m getting more each day and getting a lot of phone calls. We set a maximum of 300 and I doubt we’ll get to that, but I’m thinking if we get 150 to 200 people will be plenty.”
The trip which was normally taken in one ride will be split up into two segments in hopes to draw in a bigger crowd of people wanting to take the trip.
“It’s hard for people to take that much time off,” Mattson said. “We thought it would be better if we spread it out in two parts and did it one week at a time.”
The southern trip, which ranges nearly 98 miles from Deadwood to Buffalo, S.D., takes place Aug. 25 to Sept. 1. Then the northern trip that is more than 100 miles from Buffalo to Medora will occur in the summer of 2013.
Linda and Ray Gilbert and their family ranches south of Buffalo are on land that was crossed by the original stage in the 1880s.
“Part of the trail goes through our place and I’ve worked horses on and off my whole life,” Ray Gilbert said. “They just wanted someone to help them and that’s why we are helping.”
The history behind the Medora-to-Deadwood Trail was French nobleman Marquis de Mores established his own stage line from Medora to Deadwood. He charged 10 cents a mile, and the route took the stage to Deadwood, through the Black Hills and to the Badlands. Relay stations were set up every 10 to 15 miles along the route for team changes and passenger breaks.
Just like the breaks taken in the 1880s, these trips will be no different, making the occasional rest stop every 15 to 20 miles along the trail.
The key component many of the riders were searching for was gold. The trail was most popular between 1884 and 1886.
“For a short period of time, it was an important means of transportation between Medora and the Black Hills and Deadwood,” Mattson said.
Though gold won’t be an influence in this trip, the scenery and landscapes should provide riders with a quality experience.
“That’s what we hope anyway,” Ray Gilbert said.