Monday, November 16, 2009

Spokane ghost town

Well, my little teasers about the 1890 ghost town of Spokane seem to have drawn quite a bit of interest, so here's the rest of the story.

Spokane can be found in the southern Black Hills' Custer County just off the Iron Mountain Road/Highway 16A very near it's intersection with the southern end of Forest Service Road 330. This is just north of northern border of Custer State Park and the Spokane Creek Campground. This is also very near the intersection with the "Playhouse Road" or Forest Service Road 753. GPS coordinates are N43-50.573 W103-23.031.

If you are on the Iron Mountain Road and come to Road 330, turn north, but only for a few yards before you will see a dirt road heading east into the trees with a secure Forest Service gate on it. Park here and hike up the gated road about one-half mile to find the first buildings. This is also a well-traveled horse path, so watch for four-legged traffic.

Spokane is probably one of the larger collections of ghost town buildings anywhere in the Black Hills. I did not even photograph every building I saw, and I'm guessing that I missed a few more scattered in the trees.


In Watson Parker and Hugh Lambert's book "Black Hills Ghost Towns," published in 1974, pictures show large headframe and mill buildings that I did not find. I wouldn't be surprised if they are no longer standing.

Spokane's schoolhouse is the largest building I did see. Unfortunately someone has stripped the siding and left it in danger of collapsing under a heavy snow or wind.



Very interesting is this root cellar (or bomb shelter, or dynamite storage facility?) with solid concrete walls and ceiling.



Most of the town is located in a fairly open valley, but wandering up the nearby tree-covered hillsides reveals more like this large house with a couple small mine pits in the yard.




An extra bonus for lovers of "old stuff," several cars are deteriorating along with the structures. One even has the looks of use as a race car before finding it's permanent resting spot here.

14 comments:

lsdavis0 said...

Wow, what an interesting series. Now I have something new (or should I say "old") to check out the next time I visit the Hills!

Chad Coppess said...

Thanks, that's right. There is a lot to explore out there. I know I haven't found it all, so there's always something new to be looking for.

theueckers said...

I never knew the name of the place but I have been to Spokane many times. There is an old apple tree there that still bears fruit every year. Go at the right time and you can stuff your pockets with the little jewels.

Phil
www.twitter.com/perseid88

Cindy said...

My Dad and my uncle spoke of Spokane many times but I never knew where to find it. Thanks Chad!!

blackhillsfun said...

We live right by Spokane and visit quite often. Did you find the gravestone of the guy who was killed in a dispute over a mining claim? I really like the old wallpaper still hanging on the inside of the homes.

Chad Coppess said...

I did find the grave! There's an awful lot of fun stuff to discover in that little area. I'm hoping to get back there sometime soon. Maybe I'll see what it's like with snow on it.

Dave Ford said...

We used to vacation in the Black Hills every year when we lived in SD and Spokane was always a high point. When we first visited Spokane the mining buildings as well as the headframe were still there. It was always very special place to visit.

Dave Ford said...

I wrote an article for South Dakota Magazine about the ghost town of Spokane that was in the May/June 1991 issue.

Dorothea Edgington said...

I first discovered Spokane in 1963 and made a 16mm film on it several years later for a SDSU class. Later I wrote several articles on it. A good friend of mine lived in the caretaker's home when she was a youngster. The home on the hill was the manager's home, just up from where the head frame, shop, and office were located. BUT I never found the grave!

Chad Coppess said...

Thanks for the comments everyone! Dorothea - it's great to see you stopping by. It would have been fun to see Spokane when it was actually "alive."

Jason Tallon said...

Just a quick note, as of March, 2014, the back half of the school house has pretty much collapsed, and given the front half a pretty severe lean. It won't be long until it's down.

Parker said...

The mill and other mine buildings were removed some time ago. I believe that the fenced area below the manager's cabin is the remains of the mill foundation, although absolutely nothing remains there. Dad told me that it had a fire (or was set on fire) and then was taken down to prevent vandals and amateurs from getting in more trouble.

The school was still standing when I was there July 2014. But just barely.

A tree has fallen on the old Ford just up from the "Beast", and makes it tough to get a good shot of it now.

Chad Coppess said...

Thanks for the info Parker!

Dave Ford said...

The headframe and mill we're destroyed by an arson fire in the early 1990's, I think around 1992. There was an article in the RC Journal about it. I have pictures of those buildings taken in the late 1980s or very early 1990s. Obviously prior to the fire. I'd love to share them here but uncertain as to how to attach them.