History of the Black Hills – Fort Pierre Railroad Roundhouse
The Black Hills and Fort Pierre Railroad Roundhouse was built by the Homestake Mining Company, in early 1901. The facility serviced and repaired engines and rolling stock for 2 railroads: The Black Hills – Fort Pierre Railroad and The Deadwood Central Railroad. The Black Hills – Fort Pierre Railroad was the first railroad in the Black Hills, and started operations in 1881. The Deadwood Central Railroad started operation in 1886. Between 15 and 20 highly skilled men were on duty 12 hours a day and 7 days a week to handle the workload.
1901 was a high point for the railroads in the Black Hills. The Black Hills – Fort Pierre made daily runs hauling vast quantities of freshly cut timber, rock for construction, supplies, mining equipment, finished lumber from the saw mills and passenger service for over 54 miles of narrow gauge track.
The Deadwood Central Railroad traveled on 25 miles of narrow gauge track hauling gold ore from the mines in the Terry Peak Area to the special gold processing plants in lower Deadwood.
By the early 1890’s, The Elkhorn and Missouri River Railroad and the Burlington Railroad, both standard gauge trains, had connected the Black Hills to the rest of the United States. In today’s world of jet planes and high-speed cars, it’s hard to imagine the impact that rail service made on the region. If you could try to imagine that before the train, transportation was limited to walking, horseback or wagon.
Bad winters, with ice and heavy snow, made railroading very dangerous with narrow gauge tracks, tight hairpin curves and steep grades. Many wrecks occurred that not only badly damaged much of the equipment, but also took the lives of brave railroad men. It’s amazing just how quickly these wrecks were cleaned up and repairs were made to put these trains back in service.
Burlington Railroad bought the Black Hills – Fort Pierre Roundhouse in late 1901 and operated it until 1930. After 1930 the Roundhouse served as a truck garage, a retail outlet and a storage facility. By the 1990’s the building had fallen into disrepair and the City of Lead decided to have it torn down. A Rapid City businessman purchased the building, just to save the last railroad structure in the town, which was once the key hub of railroad activity.
In 2007 Duane and Phyllis Sander bought the historic building and had it totally renovated. It reopened with its magnificent Victorian Theme on Thanksgiving Weekend 2008.
We invite you to tour our newly restored historic building. Enjoy a meal at the Roundhouse Restaurant; visit the Good As Gold Gift shop; marvel at the Living Map Theater; enjoy a glass of wine in the Club Car; or relax on the third floor, complete with Wi-Fi, a fireplace, a coffee bar and more shopping.
For more information on Railroads of the Black Hills, please check the Book Department in the Good As Gold Gift Shop.