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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, May 18, 2009.
I'll be happy to share tracks Dusty. I need to clean them up first.
On the morning of day 4 I checked out a couple of things in Spearfish.
A great place to get off the bike and stroll around is the DC Booth Fish Hatchery.
In 1896, Congress came up with $5K to start this thing.
Now it is pretty much a working museum of fish culture.
This thing uses the remarkably unpolluted waters of Spearfish Creek to operate. I say "remarkably" because with so many untended mines in the area, one would think this beautiful stream would suffer.
Back in the day, it was common to haul fish around for stocking in custom railroad cars. If you want to look inside this one, check out the virtual tour on the web site. http://www.fws.gov/dcbooth/
For my friends in the upper midwest, this fisheries boat is based on a Great Lakes design that could take bigger water. Initially these boats were used on the Upper Mississippi River for massive fish rescues when flood waters receded.
They were built in the 1920s or 1930s. They were chosen because they could haul a lot of containers of fish. This particular boat was used on Yellowstone Lake to collect fish eggs for the hatchery.
The pool these ducks are swimming on is shallow and contains a dense concentration of fish. One would think they would brush against the duck's webbed feet. I'm thinking these ducks are chowing down on the same pellets used to feed the fish. Keep eatin' boys . . . I'll see you in the fall.
Hiding out from bad motorcycle weather until a storm passes? Check out the Western Heritage Museum in Spearfish. This is a new facility.
I don't know if it is any good or not. I checked the menu and didn't see much that would be new after my visits to other spots on the Pony Express ride and this Black Hills ride.
OK, back on the bike and back into the Hills!
Fantastic landscape, photos, and - especially -a hugely informative narrative about the history packed into this fascinating area.
A report of the highest caliber. Caliber. Cannonshot. Geddit?
I'll get my coat.
A short ride-to-eat hijack.
Everybody seems to know about the great burgers at Sugar Shack on 385, but the Indian Tacos at the Cheyenne Crossing store are less well-known. During Rally Week, they do a lot of business selling gas and burgers cooked outside, but you can usually walk right into the dining room and have a choice of booths. The indian tacos are the best in the Hills, hands down. A ride-to-eat destination, and definitely worth a stop if you are in the neighborhood.
The hotel at Savoy has a nice dining room with a great view down the canyon, but the food is mediocre at best, and over-priced.
I just broke out into *explosive* laughter. I'm glad that you didn't find this *primer* on the Hills to be too much of a *bore*. It is nice to be able to *fuse* together both riding and history and hopefully this report will be some kind of *propellent* for others to explore more of the Hills.
Okay, I might over overdone that a bit.
Great advice on the eats Jud! I'll be tracking back to the Crossing as part of today's ride. They'll be a waypoint there that I just changed the icon from gas to eats instead.
I love this report. Thanks. I went through there for the first time in 2005. I camped at your site in Badlands NP. Then I took a dirt road path south to Wounded Knee. I enjoyed seeing many young Sioux out riding the grasslands on their horses.
I looped west and north through the Black Hills. Unfortunately I had no idea what I was riding through.
Weather systems you referenced:
Resort towns with hot springs in the middle of nowhere:
And a pleasant ride east back to my camp at Badlands:
Am looking forward to the rest. Meanwhile I'm going to try to find your pony express report. I have been back through there since, but towing my KTM for an Alaskan ride. I stopped and checked out Custer NB, Sundance, Devils Tower and such. I'd like to spend more time prowling through there.
I'd like to go back in my bike maybe this summer, but I think I'll loop south from Black Hills to NM and back through Texas.
Very educational......I've been through the Black Hills a couple of times and didn't learn or see 1/2 the stuff I have in this report!
Is there more?
You can take this nice up and over gravel road from Spearfish to Central City (Deadwood/Lead).
It is scenic and entertaining for big bike and small.
But, we've got a side trip planned to go looking for ghost towns and old mines.
While traveling along the Maitland Road (magenta colored route), turn west onto the clearly marked Carbonate Road. It doesn't look like much, but it is suitable for bikes big and small.
It is scenic and fun.
There are some side trails and roads to confuse you, but if you are savvy (or follow the track) you will just keep climbing in the proper direction.
Due to some changes in the area the previous principal road routes on you maps are not true. You will take some other paths.
Typically, just before you get to another road, you get blocked by snow. I was able to slip past between the snow an the drop off.
Well, so much for visiting Carbonate. New mining activity has that blocked off. Instead of turning right into this gate, I end up turning left (south) on to other destinations. In all my disappointment about not being able to get there, I forgot to tell you about Carbonate. It is an 1881 town that had the full shot of mining town facilities. There are (were perhaps) still some apple orchards around. Orchards were popular around these towns. These were very rich mines in this area. One produced 50 pounds of silver in a chunk of ore the size of a tea table. They used to have a three story hotel with 63 rooms, a ballroom, and a saloon. Four trains a day would run here from Deadwood. The Iron Hill Mine produced $667M in silver, gold, and lead.
As I headed south on a nicely improved heavy duty road, I could see that my *prospects* for finding some of these old towns and mines in this area were not too good. Seems like they had been reopened - open pit style.
Man did they move some rock! What is not visible in these pictures is the deep downward spiraling pits.
This photo isn't current, but you get the idea.
Check out that big pile of mine tailings.
Well, I thought I could still get into Preston/Balmoral. There were a group of towns here that formed around some mines after a chunk of gold ore was discovered in a horse's shoe. Right at the vehicle inspection checkpoint for the Wharf mine, go onto the two-track that heads north to Preston.
Well, I wsn't going to make it there today. This is another unfinished project I guess. Maybe someone can ride up there this summer and take a couple of pix to add to this thread.
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It is kind of amazing how this old mine road . . .
. . . was transformed into this one.
The Cat 777D 100 ton tipper. You can pick one up used for anywhere between .6 and 1.1 million bucks. I wonder what an oil change costs.
The Wharf has six of these things and they just keep moving. After a blast, the blast rock is flagged to identify good producing ore and waste rock. Then the hauling begins. The good stuff goes for processing and the bad for fill.
Hi Cannonshot, I am loving this ride report. It's got it all, helicopters, planes, motorcycles, and even prairie dogs . I just got back from helping a friend with a little pd problem down near the White River in SD. Thanks for sharing.
Glad you are enjoying the report. That is a nice weather shot that seems typical for the Hills from time to time.
I'll be reporting on Hot Springs further on in the report. Interesting history there.
Here is the link to the Pony Express ride. Some might want to take in some of the trail while on their way to other places.
Big Bike Solo on the Pony Express Trail
Thanks, much more to come.
Seems like this report was almost tailored for you! I was thinking about your interest in wildlife when I came upon those prairie dog towns.
As you ride out of the mine, you are greeted by this view of 7,000' Terry Peak. We'll go up there in a bit, but first a visit to the ghost town of Trojan which sits nearby.
Other than the layout of the streets, there is no real old ghost town left.
The old town has been replaced by new properties: many of them resort like rentals. I spoke with one of the locals and he told me they had around 230" of snow up here and that the triple storm thing this year was pretty bad.
I had it in mind to try to get near the Annie Creek mine area to see what was around. This was a deep shaft mine that is so deep that it breathed with changes in air pressure. With the new mining, I figured that was going to be a lost cause. The trail that heads toward the mine area is the one here that is marked "Hazardous Road". It drops down into the valley of Annie Creek. But, you will only be able to travel up to the edge of forest property. Once there, travel is restricted to so don't bother coming from this direction.
Well, the snow kept me out of even going to the authorized limits. I even tried another road that I thought would intersect and there was no way it could happen.
Here is the bottom line on this project. Coming in from Trojan will not get you close enough to any mine stuff. You will only be able to travel to the limits of National Forest. After that, there are travel restrictions that would put you on foot. The narrow gauge grade coming from Elmore is an obvious authorized travel route but the designated road stops before you get to the mine area. One could hike up to the mine area from the end of the grade, but looking at the new mine and reading about the remediation from the cyanide mill they did there in the 1990s, I am thinking it is a lost cause. Scratch this one off the list I guess. I would think the Wharf Mine has it posted if it even exists anymore.
The road that comes to the mine from the SE is paved so if anyone wants to street bike it up here to take a look there is no problem. This old mining apparatus is along that road.
And right across the street from that is still another active mine.
Hard to believe that big statues of Presidents' heads does well as an attraction, but it must. (Not counting Rushmore of course. )
Awesome report. Riding with you would be a lot of fun... camping, knowledge, planned routes. Maybe you should start a DS tour guide service up there!!
Keep it up.
Thanks. Some CannonTrekkers would probably tell you I'm not organized enough to host any rides.