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2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 9; US Route 14A in the Homestead Mining District and Spearfish Canyon

Following a full day in the Black Hills and Badlands National Park I headed back west I-90/US 15 to spend the night in Rapid City.  The following morning I headed west to Sturgis to take US Route 14A through the Black Hills.







This blog entry serves as Part 9 of the 2016 Summer Mountain Trip, part 8 can be found here:

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 8; Badlands National Park and former US 16A on SD 240

Before starting US 14A proper I stopped off in Sturgis to view parts of the City.  Prior to I-90 being constructed US 14 was routed through Sturgis westward to US 85 on the outskirts of Deadwood.  US 14 would have traveled through Sturgis on; Junction Avenue, Main Street, dipped over the rails on 8th Street, and continued on Sherman Street under I-90 to Moose Drive.  This view below would have been on westbound US 14 on Main Street.


Strugis obviously is mostly known for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally which began in 1938.  Sturgis was founded as a rail siding in the Foothills of the Black Hills in 1878 and was originally known as Scooptown.  Apparently the name of "Scooptown" somehow refers to the locals being paid out of Fort Meade.  Sturgis was a major terminus point for wagons traveling west Homestake Mine from the rails which led to it becoming the Meade County Seat in 1889.


US 14A begins at I-90/US 14 exit 30 which also has a junction with SD 34 running westward from Sturgis on Lazelle Street.  US 14A is an approximately 44 mile spur of US 14 which essentially serves as a scenic detour to US 14.  Today the US 14 main line route is entirely multiplexed onto I-90.  Prior to I-90 being built US 14 as stated above headed west from Sturgis to the outskirts of Deadwood where it turned north onto a multiplex of US 85.  US 14 and US 85 continued to multiplex before splitting away in Spearfish.

The current US 14A is the second iteration of the route.   The first US 14A followed modern US 14 along what is now I-90 out of Sturgis which was so-signed as SD 24.  The first map I could find showing the first US 14A west from Sturgis was linked over to me on AAroads by Mapmikey.

1953 Deadwood Area Topographical Map

I don't have an exact time frame from when US 14A as it does not appears in it's current configuration on a 1957 Topographical Map which can be viewed on USGS.gov.

USGS.gov Topographical Viewer

I'm told US 14A in it's present configuration was observed on a 1961 South Dakota State Highway Map according to AAroads member Mapmikey.  I was able find the current US 14A appears on 1963 Topographical Map of Meade County on historicaerials.  The below South Dakota Highway Map from 1949 shows the original alignment of US 14 from Sturgis to Spearfish.

1949 State Highway Map 

A couple miles west of Sturgis the alignment of US 14A enters Lawrence County.  At Whitewood Creek US 14A enters the City of Deadwood and has a junction with US 85.  Today US 14A multiplexes US 85 on Pioneer Way to Pine Street but the original alignments of both highways originally went through downtown Deadwood on Main Street.  The original junction for US 14A and US 85 was located at Main Street and Deadwood Street.  The alignment of US 14A/US 85 on Pioneer Way appears to have been built in the 1970s from comparing topographical maps of Deadwood.

These views below are of Main Street in Deadwood looking westward which would have been US 14A/US 85.








Deadwood is the Lawrence County Seat and is probably the most well known community from the Black Hills Gold Rush.  Deadwood was founded in 1874 shortly after Gold was discovered in the Black Hills by General Custer.  Deadwood rose to a population of approximately 5,000 people by the end of the 1870s.  Deadwood is named after the nearby gulch bearing the same name.

Most of the original buildings in Deadwood were destroyed in a fire in 1879.  The original Deadwood rail depot opened in 1888 and was set on a narrow gauge track which was converted to standard gauge by 1930.  Unlike most mining communities the industry in Deadwood stayed active until 2002 when the nearby Homestake Mine shuttered.  US 85 has always been present in Deadwood since the creation of the US Route System.  US 385 has terminated in Deadwood at US 85 since 1958.

Deadwood today largely survives off of tourism but has declined to it's lowest populations since the 1870s.  Many of the old buildings in Deadwood have been converted either to hotels and/or casinos.
















This photo is of the original junction of US 14A/US 85 at Main Street and Deadwood Street.



This is the modern junction of US 14A/US 85 at Pine Street and Pioneer Way.   The first generation Camaro was an accidental nice touch to the ambiance of downtown Deadwood.


This photo is of Pioneer Street looking towards Pine Street.





US 14A exits Deadwood west on Pioneer Way running along Deadwood Creek to Central City only 2 miles away.  In Central City the routing of US 14A is directly south of Main Street.

On Central Main Street in Central City there are various decaying vintage structures.  Central City dates back to 1877 and was named after a community of the same name in Colorado.  Central City lies to the north end of the Homestake Mine but for whatever reason never fared quite as well as Deadwood or Lead.







From Central City the routing of US 14A turns southwest towards Lead.  US 14A enters Lead via Glendale Drive and Fairview Avenue where it meets US 85 again at East Main Street.

Lead was founded in 1876 and is pronounced "Leed" instead of "Lead," which I was rather dismayed to learn back in 2016.  Lead was founded next to the Homestake Mine which also opened in 1876.  The Homestake Mine initially used conventional shaft mining methods before moving to a mostly open pit operation.  The Homestake Mine reached it's lowest depth of 6,800 feet in the 1970s.  Mining operations stopped at the Homestake Mine in 2001 before it was completely shuttered in 2002.  The Homestake Mine was one of the most productive Gold Mines in U.S. history with 1.25 kilograms produced during it's history. Lead once had a population approaching 8,500 before declining to about 3,000 residents after the Homestake Mine closed.

Open pit mining at Homestake displaced much of the City of Lead and led to the demise of the community of Terraville in the 1930s.  Terraville reached a population of about 700 residents before the community was razed.  The Homestake Mine can be viewed from US 85 along East Main Street at the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center.


I thought the large bore directly over the Homestake Pit was a nice touch.





Today there isn't much activity on US 85/East Main Street in Lead.






West of Lead US 14A/US 85 multiplex on Can Am Highway into Black Hills National Forest.  US 14A splits north into Spearfish Canyon away from US 85 at Cheyanne Crossing.  US 14A begins a descent from the Black Hills on Spearfish Canyon Highway alongside Spearfish Creek.


Vehicle transportation in Spearfish Canyon dates back to 1893 when the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad built a line from Spearfish to the Homestake Mining District.  Much of the BMRR Railroad was flooded in 1933 and was rebuilt as a roadway which became SD 89 in 1950 which eventually became part of the second US 14A.  The BMRR Railroad split from US 14A at the siding of Elmore where it cut east over Crown Hill.





The tree lined rim of Spearfish Canyon is pretty to look at to say the least.






There is plenty of evidence of the Homestake Mining operation in Spearfish Canyon along US 14A like this Hydroelectric building over Spearfish Creek dated back to 1917.






Bridal Veil Falls is located directly east of US 14A.  The falls can easily accessed by fording Spearfish Creek which I did via a couple fallen logs.






The eroded dark rock formations of Spearfish Canyon are a striking contrast to the grey asphalt of US 14A.





At the mouth of Spearfish Canyon US 14A exits Black Hills National Forest.  US 14A enters the City of Spearfish and takes a eastern turn on Colorado Boulevard towards I-90 and the US 14 mainline at exit 14.  I took the I-90 Business Loop westward into the downtown Spearfish instead.

Spearfish dates back to 1876 when it was founded at the mouth of Spearfish Canyon during the Black Hills Gold Rush.  Spearfish much like Sturgis grew around commerce centered around supplying the communities of the Homestake Mine.  Spearfish is the largest City in Lawrence County with an approximate population of 11,000.  Most of the historic structures in Spearfish are centered around Main Street and Jackson Street.






Part 10 of this series can be found here:

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 10; Devil's Tower National Monument

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