The Black Hills are full of history, most of which centers on the gold rush that brought the first settlers to the region and the wild west culture that followed. While the wild west was exactly that — wild — there were plenty of normal citizens going about their daily lives in the hills. To get a glimpse of their day-to-day life, there’s one place in the hills you shouldn’t miss: Four Mile Old West Town.
Four Mile Old West Town started as a stagecoach stop that was — you guessed it — exactly four miles west of the town of Custer. Stage stops served as a place for travelers to let their horses rest a while, stock up on provisions, and get the latest news on conditions of the route ahead. Traveling through the Black Hills could be tricky because of unpredictable weather, and there was always a chance of running into highwaymen or bandits on the road. Four Mile grew into a small town of its own in the late 1800s, with its own general store, church, barber shop, and more.
Today, the buildings of the original town remain, and the owners have taken care to collect as many items from the period as possible. You’ll find displays that are true to the period such as a schoolhouse with maps showing the US as it was, sacks of coffee beans and bushels of apples in the general store, and a cabin outfitted with possessions families may have used. The best part is none of the displays are roped off like a typical museum, so your family can actually interact with them and get a real sense for how the settlers in South Dakota lived.
In between displays and in the nooks and crannies of Four Mile Old West Town, you’ll find something that isn’t educational, but may be historically accurate: a cheeky sense of humor. The wild west was known for being lawless, but it was also a place where normal citizens could relax and ignore some of society’s standards. You’ll find references to colorful characters such as Poker Alice and the town doctor named “Quack,” as well as fun cutouts to take pictures with.
While the Four Mile Old West Town isn’t here in Keystone, their incredible hospitality will make you think you haven’t left. Mary has been regaling visitors with colorful renditions of old west history for decades, and her entire staff will make sure you enjoy your time here. Four Mile Old West Town is one of the most complete wild west attractions in the country, so it should certainly have a spot in your family’s vacation.
Four Mile Old West Town and Custer are both just minutes away from Keystone and all the best dining, lodging, and attractions in the hills. When you stay with us here in Keystone, your vacation will be monumental and unforgettable.