Trail ride promises a look at historic stagecoach trail
Journey vs. Destination
Monday, March 19, 2012 9:32 AM
I had my column all done for this week - but then I saw something very interesting show up in my work e-mail.
This photo was shown on the website for the Medora-Deadwood ride. Doesn't it look like fun? If you want to take your horse or wagon and go, we have all the information. (Bluff Country Reader courtesy photo)
If I had a horse, I'd be all over this event due to the historic Western lands it will travel - the Medora (N.D.) to Deadwood (S.D.) trail ride. Since they only take the first 300 applicants, I wanted to give everyone a shot at this as soon as possible. Details follow as I first quote the e-mail:
"A historic trail ride connecting two Dakota towns rich in history and lore begins this summer. In the 1880s, the Medora-to-Deadwood Trail took stagecoach, wagon and horseback travelers from the western buttes and Little Missouri River country of what is now North Dakota to the Wild West town of Deadwood in the Black Hills.
"Now, modern-day trail riders have a chance to relive the same experience.
"This trail ride will be done in two parts. The southern segment from Buffalo, S.D., to Deadwood will take place this year, from Aug. 25 to Sept. 1. In the summer of 2013, the northern part will take riders from Buffalo to Medora. While travelers in the 1880s did the journey in one shot, present-day organizers are splitting the lengthy trek into two segments, in hopes of enticing even more horsemen and horsewomen keen on adventure.
"The 1880s were a time in the West when all roads led to Deadwood. In the wake of the Custer Expedition's 1874 Black Hills gold discovery, fortune-seekers from all walks of life came streaming to Deadwood Gulch.
"Hearing reports about the gold boom, French nobleman Marquis de Mores established his own stage line from Medora to Deadwood. He charged 10 cents a mile, and the route took the stage to Deadwood, through the Black Hills and to the Badlands.
"Relay stations were set up every 10 to 15 miles along the route for team changes and passenger breaks. Perhaps some of the passengers were keen on getting rich in the gold rush, but many historians believe this stage was used mainly as a tourism shuttle between the two Western cities between 1884 and 1886.
"In 2012, adventurers can once again be part of Dakota history. Linda and Ray Gilbert and their family ranches south of Buffalo, S.D., on land that was crossed by the original stage in the 1880s. Linda is helping to organize this trail ride.
"'Men and women risked a lot back in the day to travel from Medora to Deadwood, and the risk vs. reward scenario was likely not much of a consideration for these travelers,' she said. 'It's quite enticing to say the least. There's much history on our ranch alone from this stage route, and I can't wait to revisit other parts of this original trail.'"
"The Gilberts and other organizers are looking for teams and riders to join them on this historical ride. The ride will benefit the Days of '76 Museum in Deadwood, one of the largest museums dedicated to preserving the West. Registration forms can be found online at www.daysof76museum.com or by calling the museum at (605) 578-1657."
A further look at the website gives a few more details. A person may ride a horse or drive a team of horses, mules, or oxen and wagon. The ride will follow as closely as possible to the original trail. Evenings will include lectures on the history of the Medora-Deadwood Trail.
"The ride will be limited to 300 participants. Applications will be received on a first-come/first-served basis. "It is contemplated that said ride will take seven days, plus one day rest for a total of eight days. Riders need not ride the complete trail, and may leave and rejoin at any time during the ride."
Ironically, on the Buffalo to Deadwood section of the 2012 ride, I haven't much been to Deadwood. But I have been to Buffalo. It's stark, lonesome country you can only fully experience by seeing it. I think traveling it by horse or wagon would be a blast.
For the 2013 ride, remember that Medora, N.D., is Teddy Roosevelt Country and is right by the southern section of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I was through there once. Very nice!
Plan on signing up soon if you'd like to participate. And be sure to let me know. I'd be more than willing to highlight your trip in a story or column.
Lisa Brainard is the news editor for the Republican-Leader and Chatfield News. She writes for the Phillips Bluff Country Publishing group of newspapers, which also includes the Spring Grove Herald, Bluff Country Reader, News-Record, and Spring Valley Tribune. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. She also photographs many scenic landscapes in her travels near and far, in addition to taking numerous newspaper photos.