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Keystone, South Dakota was founded and built by those who imagined achieving their own American dreams through hard work and determination.
After the discovery of gold within the mineral-rich region of the Black Hills, Keystone became a busy mining hub. It wasn’t long before Keystone began to boom, reaching over 2,000 people and becoming the largest community in Pennington County. In the early 1900s, the railroad reached Keystone, and with the railroad came further development of the area, mines, and community. The railroad also allowed the easy transport of people and goods, which eventually allowed for the carving and creation of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
The carving of Mount Rushmore commenced in 1927, annually employing an average of 25 to 30 men until its completion in 1941. The initial work was seasonal, but attractive to the Keystone miners because the wages were considerably higher than the mines were paying and sometimes it was the only work available during the Depression. While Mount Rushmore National Memorial created revenue and jobs for local workers, few knew the true greatness that would come because of the monument. In the first year of completion, 393,000 tourists ventured to the wild west to see the famous and breathtaking carving. It wasn’t long before Keystone discovered that tourism was and still is their primary industry.
Today, more than 2 million people visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial each year, and nearly all of them come through Keystone, South Dakota. Lodging, restaurants, museums, attractions and a wide variety of gift shops greet these visitors every year. In addition, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, other historic attractions and outdoor recreation have cemented Keystone as an iconic travel destination.
Although many mining towns appeared throughout the nation with the discovery of gold and minerals, few have lasted the test of time like Keystone. Keystone, South Dakota has always managed to not only survive but thrive with the close-knit community and ability to cater to visitors. The town offers a wide variety of lodging, adventure-soaked attractions, dining, and some of the most unique shopping experiences in the Black Hills. It is safe to say that Keystone, South Dakota is not only here to stay but will continue to grow and boom.