Black Hills Rally, South Dakota. The Way It Was In The 19th Century

Many of you have been to the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota before, during and after the August Sturgis Rally. The 73rd edition is about to start (officially August 5th, but in fact a few days sooner), an opportunity for me to publish pictures of the area taken at the end of the 19th century.

Humans have inhabited what is now South Dakota for several millennia, with the Sioux becoming dominant by the early 19th century. In the late 19th century, European-American settlement intensified after a gold rush in the Black Hills and the construction of railroads from the east. Encroaching miners and settlers caused conflict that triggered a number of Indian wars, ending with the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. Between 1886 and 1892, John C. H. Grabill documented the frontier life. Below is part of his photography now kept at the Library Of Congress.

SD11- Miners panning gold in the Dakota territory.
SD22- “Hostile” Indian Lakota Camp
SD33-Deadwood treasure wagon and guards from Wells Fargo Express Company with $250,000 gold bullion from the Great Homestake Mine of Deadwood.
SD4SD54- A Native American named Little, leader of the Oglala band, started the 1890 Indian revolt at Pine Ridge 5- “Red Cloud” and “American Horse.” The two most noted Oglala chiefs”,
SD66- Indian fighters from the US Army Infantry
SD77- Indians
SD88- Indian chiefs and U.S. officials at Pine Ridge, South Dakota. “Wild Bill” Cody standing in the center.
SD9SD109- Group of railroad engineers from the Deadwood Central Railroad (1888) 10- Wild buffalo on the plains.
SD1111- A deer hunt near Deadwood in winter (1887)
SD1212- “Comanche”, a stallion, the only survivor of the Custer massacre. (1876)

12 Responses to “Black Hills Rally, South Dakota. The Way It Was In The 19th Century”

  1. 1 Rodent Aug 2nd, 2013 at 9:49 am

    More Indians back then

  2. 2 Kirk Perry Aug 2nd, 2013 at 10:11 am

    All of those years would have been more fun if they all rode motorcycles instead of horses.
    Harleys vs. Indians.
    The union having all the firepower is about as chicken-shit as it gets.

  3. 3 Joe Cree Aug 2nd, 2013 at 11:49 am

    In picture #8 it would be “Wild” Bill Hickok or Buffalo Bill Cody. Bill Cody wasn’t referred to as “Wild Bill”.

  4. 4 Steve The Producer Johann Aug 2nd, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Just got back from 2 weeks camping with my family in Montana, ID and Washington. We spent lots of time in museums and at various historical locations where Indians and pioneers were a major part of the exhibitions.

    Those early setlers and Indians were a hearty people. No electricity, no highways, no refrigeration etc. Just live day by day with no safety net to rely on other than their children to support them in their old age.

    Even though much has changed over the years, what hasn’t changed is the natural beauty of the Black Hills which still remains for us to enjoy today and yesterday.

    Thanks Cyril, for featuring some of that history here.

  5. 5 Blackmax Aug 2nd, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    This is priceless teasure from the Black Hills,
    the history & memories that were made there!!!
    Thank You Cyril for sharing

  6. 6 nicker Aug 2nd, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    “… it would be ‘Wild’ Bill Hickok or Buffalo Bill Cody. Bill Cody wasn’t referred to as ‘Wild Bill’….”

    Spot-on Joe.
    Heritage and history are very important. part of our culture and keeping the names and the language accurate is the only way to sustain that culture over time. Otherwise it’ll all get chipped away by sands of time (and contemporary pratle).

    If we don’t keep on it, simple little things like Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody, names we all were very familiar with as kids, will be lost to the generation of youngsters who have been forbidden by the PC Police to play dodge-ball and gun games.

    Just so, a new generation of kids who may never know what its like to fix a scooter by the side of the road or to retard the ignition while kick-starting their scooters. And if we let-em they’ll continue to use bogus terms like “suicide shift” just because they heard it on TV (JJ) or from some other posing break-in-biker ………. 🙁

    Great historic pics Cyril… thanks for sharing.


  7. 7 Joshua Aug 3rd, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Very cool.

  8. 8 Kirk Perry Aug 3rd, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Number 2. “Hostile” Indian camp is bothersome. It…. just doesn’t look completely “real”. The shadows are too long. The fellow standing/walking over to the far left, cast no shadow at all. The camera would have been facing forward-side lighting. The teepees look painted.

    Buffalo Bill (a Floyd Clymer incarnate) got it all organized, “Little, take this rifle.. and uh.. sit over there. Red Cloud and American Horse …. you two guys stand here, no not there, both of youse move a little to the left.. no!, don’t kick the plaque!… OK now, shake hands…. perfect!

    Hollywood then.

  9. 9 Odlamn Aug 4th, 2013 at 1:04 am

    If interested in this period of history in Black Hills, best read is “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee”, by Dee Brown, ISBN 0-553-11979-6

    Thanks for pix Cyril. nicker’s right about importance of keeping our history straight – still lots to learn and get right, like forgiving and understanding the other side, no matter which side we are on.


  10. 10 Knucklehead Aug 4th, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Being part Native I do my best to tell the truth as grandma told me. I too teach my sons and now grandsons (girls too) how to not fail in life. If it’s broke you can fix it. Now suicide shift is a slang and started long before I started riding in 1965. It came about because of the washboard roads and reason is simple. But yes one should never forget it’s proper name. Like oil tank or oil bag. I have some HD books and I once questioned which was in the book. Sitting here now I believe and may be wrong but to older books oil tank.

  11. 11 cbarter Aug 5th, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Those are great pics. The Indian ‘nation’ never put a dent in the American eco system despite living there for thousands of years. California, pre white man, must have been a garden of Eden. In less than two centuries America has been paved over and is subject to pell mell ‘economic growth’ and population expansion. Shame really.

  12. 12 nicker Aug 5th, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    “…Now suicide shift is a slang and started long before I started riding in 1965…”

    -No- ……..History ain’t negotiable…… 🙂
    Suicide shift is “TV talk.”

    Parts book says “Sport clutch.”
    Slang always has been “suicide clutch”
    (your foot slips off, it walks ya out into traffic)
    Shifting by hand is by “Tank-shift” (left or right) or “Jockey-shift” (directly off the top of the box)


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Cyril Huze