Day 3 on the trip and I am back out to the ranch outside Newcastle to meet my hosts to take a side trip back into the hills to the site of the Cambria Ghost Town. Since my overloaded DL1000 wasn't going to be able to cross the terrain to where we had to go, I had to switch conveyances. My host had a couple of ATVs lined up and ready to go. Away we went. The one I was operating came with an aging herding dog that was a skilled passenger - even on rough terrain. He knew just how to use his body weight against mine to maintain some stability. It took a while to work our way back to there. Pretty soon we started to encounter some old structures. As the railroad pushed westward, they needed a source of coal to fuel their endeavor. They found coal, here in this valley a few miles north of the mainline that goes through Newcastle. They found the coal in 1887 and then went to work building the mine, two churches, a school, a lodge hall, a three story hotel, a recreation hall, a bank, a courthouse, company offices and 150 miner's homes. The place was ready to rock by 1889. This is what is left of the weigh house used to weigh the coal being shipped via the train. The town had a big commissary that people from all over the area used to shop at. Water was a very serious issue in this area. I guess it still is. The railroad was able to put in a 2345 foot well here (back in the 1880s!). They also had to build a reservoir. Most mines had a reservoir or water tank for industrial and fire fighting uses. In 1904 this town had a population of 1400 with about 550 of those being employees. There were miners here from 23 countries. No liquor was allowed in the town. There were coke ovens here. There is a big ash pile that turned into a great ATV play area for the grandkids. Cambria used to sell coke to the Homestead Mine over in Deadwood. I think in 1928 they were being paid a bonus of $5.60 per ton on top of the price of the coke because it contained gold and silver. This leads to a mine opening. By the way, they followed the coal seams wherever they went. When one punched out the other side of one of these hills into a valley, they trestled across to the next hill and continued to mine. High trestles running through town can be a prescription for disaster. One of the trains jumped the track on one of these trestles and took out the pharmacy, pharmacist, and a couple of others. The coal started to run out in 1928. Eventually the mine announced that they would close on a certain day. At noon, they blew the whistle and that was it. People hustled away to try to beat the rush to get jobs somewhere else. They left many of their belonging in their homes as they couldn't take it all with them. Someone said that they left the sprinkler on at the courthouse and it ran until the reservior was empty - just a good story I think. This is the railbed of the spur that snaked up here from Newcastle. What usually happens when they close these towns up is that the company sells the mining equipment and salvages the good timbers and the like. Many of the houses (or wood from the houses) probably ended up in Newcastle. During WWII there was a big effort to get stuff from here. This place supplied high grade anthracite coal. This present day view . . . . . . aligns with this view from the mining days. Quite interesting to poke around down there looking at things and comparing to the old pictures. This was a model town with eledctricity, water, and many modern conveniences. A lot of overhead just to supply coal to the railroad. Trees and brush have filled in the clean streets from years ago. These steep valleys are great mountain lion habitat. Lots of deer around, channelized game trails, enough visibility to see prey but enough cover to stalk or ambush. This is a nice picture of a lion that turned up in Wisconsin this winter. It is believed that the lions that turn up in the midwest are from this region. I guess if you are knocking around alone out here, or are with small children, it is a good idea to remember that this is lion country. Although sightings are rare, and attacks are even rarer, it is good to remain aware. There is a great page on lion language that the SD DNR has out. The pictures and circumstances they show give you an idea if you are about to have a problem or not. http://www.sdgfp.info/Wildlife/MountainLions/Language.htm Well, back to the bike so I can continue on with my exploring. Many, many thanks to my generous hosts!