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I rode the 1880 train from Keystone to Hill City and back, a wonderful relaxing 3 hour trip through the Black Hills of South Dakota.

In the history of American frontier experience, no other development was more influential than the railroad and its iron horses. The steel rails crisscrossed the plains, ran up into the mountains, and brought settlers and town-builders to areas that had been home to native tribes for centuries.
The Black Hills mining boom began in 1874. Gold was discovered near the site of today's city of Custer by a member of an exploration party lead by Lt. Colonel George A. Custer. By late 1877, events changing the Black Hills forever had occurred: the Battle of the Little Bighorn; major gold strikes in the Deadwood and Lead areas of the northern Black Hills; and the area was now a part of Dakota Territory.
The first steam engine in the Black Hills was brought across the prairie by bull team to the Homestake Mining Company at Lead in 1879. In 1881, the Home-stake Company created the first narrow-gauge railroad in the Black Hills to haul its cargo and the public from Lead to several mining camps.
The standard-gauge Burlington branch that came to host the 1880 TRAIN's operations was built during the central Black Hills mining boom in the 1890s and the first month of 1900. In the summer of 1927, President Calvin Coolidge dedicated a granite mountain three miles southwest of Keystone as America's shrine of Democracy, Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
During the late 1940s, diesel engines became more common than steam. After years of declining use, William B. Heckman (a public relations man with railroad experience) decided to start a railroad where steam actually operated, and was not just relegated to static display. He and Robert Freer, a sales engineer of diesel locomotives in the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, organized a group who believed "there should be in operation at least one working steam railroad, for boys of all ages who share a fondness for the rapidly vanishing steam locomotive."
On the morning of August 18, 1957, the first official train operated on the Black Hills Central. Veteran Burlington engineer Earl Coupens piloted the Klondike Casey and its 2 open-air coaches away from the Burlington's vintage1890 Hill City depot; up the over four-percent grade of Tin Mill Hill and on to Oblivion. The route had been nicknamed "the 1880 TRAIN," as it was likened by Heckman to riding a train in the 1880s. While not quite historically accurate, the dating of the operation stuck, and if nothing else, captured an illusion of the railroad history.
Now, 55 years after its inception, the Black Hills Central is still providing what its founder Bill Heck-man envisioned—a place where new generations could experience a steam locomotive after their disappearance from everyday American railroading; and to commemorate the vital role that railroads played in the development of the country.
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Comments on this photo:

Sep 13 2012 19:57 GMT elsje323
beautiful trainfriday entry and info
Sep 13 2012 20:02 GMT julie13
Great entry
Sep 13 2012 20:53 GMT Icandoit
Great trainfriday entry
Sep 13 2012 20:59 GMT Sheila PRO
Beautiful old engine!
Sep 13 2012 22:41 GMT 25barb
Wonderful photo with fantastic notes. Really a very well done photo
Sep 13 2012 22:41 GMT LizSA
How awesome can it be... Wow. John. Great holiday memories.
Sep 13 2012 23:35 GMT fhelsing PRO
That sounds like a great ride!
Sep 14 2012 04:54 GMT Squirrel PRO
BEAUTIFUL SHOT AND ENTRY >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Sep 14 2012 06:41 GMT senna3
Great train image and documentation!
Sep 14 2012 07:46 GMT MargNZ
Great entry John ... I enjoy the early history of rail :)
Sep 14 2012 08:24 GMT marijke06
great old one!
Sep 14 2012 09:35 GMT abojovna PRO
Fascinating history of railway, beautiful train!
Sep 14 2012 14:19 GMT sini
Great capture and entry!:)
Sep 14 2012 15:32 GMT kumarr
Wonderful picture !!!!
Sep 14 2012 17:29 GMT Pea2007
Wonderful image and entry.
Sep 14 2012 22:52 GMT megmet PRO
Superb entry and notes John!