Saturday, March 09, 2013

Black Hills Central, August 1960

After digging through many boxes of random slides, I get the impression that nearly everyone in the country hopped into their station wagons and made summer trips to places like the Grand Canyon, or perhaps Mount Rushmore. And if you were going to South Dakota to see Rushmore, you could ride the Black Hills Central Railroad! Debuting in 1957, the Black Hills Central has enabled thousands of visitors to experience the fun of a train ride through some beautiful scenery.

In this first picture, it looks as if the locomotive has made a stop so that people could get out and stretch their legs. I looked up the ol' #444, and one website said, "Before coming to the Forney Museum, the engine was previously owned but never operated by the Black Hills Central Railroad in Hill City, South Dakota from 1958 to 1968. She was given to the BHCRR only days after she retired." And yet, here she is, definitely in service at the BHCRR!

This second shot gives a nice "you are there" sensation. If only it was moving! The BHCRR continues to restore and operate early 20th century locomotives and train cars. You can visit between early May and early October for a lovely 10-mile journey. 

I made a couple of screen grabs from a YouTube video in which you can see the 444 chugging past briefly in 1959 home movies (which you can view here if you so desire - I think there is also a quick shot of a young Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip passing by in a Kennedy-esque convertible). 

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the Black Hills Central Railroad!


K. Martinez said...

Wonderful pics! I grew up with these types of trains as we have two classic operating excursion lines here in Santa Cruz County. The "Roaring Camp Railroad" in Felton which travels through the redwoods and the "Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific Railroad" which travels from the Beach Boardwalk to Felton in the Santa Cruz mountains. There's just something about the sight, sound and feel of the real thing.

walterworld said...


I checked out the home movies link, very cool!

One thing, I do believe that the 444 was stationary, and probably just a photo op. The train in the video is a different train (has a headlamp, different piping etc.)

I just deleled my angry draft email to the Forney museum, demanding that they tell the REAL story of 444! Anyhow...

Loved the Black Hills, Rushmore, Yellowstone, etc. All family road trips ("Summer Tours") that we took way back in the 2000's. My kids can certainly say they saw it all (or close).

Thanks as always for the daily dose :)

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Love to see the old high iron like this but it also makes me sad. It seems like working steamers like this have rapidly started to disappear at a faster rate the last 30 years or so.

Be it due to parts failure, high cost to maintain or just plain lack of public interest. At least the DLRR and Knott's RR keep rolling along. (for now)

Thanks as always Major.

Melissa said...

Love the fellow in the first picture casually leaning on the cow catcher.

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, I have some old pictures of the "Roaring Camp" train that I should post here one of these days. I used to go up to San Jose and Santa Cruz all the time when I had siblings in the area, but now they've all moved away.

Walterworld, you might be right... the film shows several trains, some obviously stationary. The Eisensteinian editing makes it all a bit of a jumble. Perhaps the 444 really never DID run.

Alonzo, it's like the old adage about how people don't appreciate things until they're gone. And it really is true! I'm sure those old steam engines were thought of as dirty and clunky. Who wouldn't rather have a clean, spiffy diesel engine?

Melissa, that guy is so cool he must have been like The Fonz!

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