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Battle Creek Lodge: Come as Guests, Leave as Friends

Tucked against the rocky hillside of Reed Street, the Battle Creek Lodge has seen its share of changes in its 100+ year history. What started out as the Keystone Fire Hall in the early 1900s grew to include community gathering space and a youth center. When the Black Hills were devastated by flood waters in 1972, the city of Keystone sold the property at an auction to a local family; and the community service purpose of the fire hall changed to the hospitality industry that Battle Creek Lodge has become known for.  

The original purchasers of the property, the Cordes family, started renovations and turned it into a small diner with a few rooms to rent. Mr. Cordes did much of the renovation himself, as he was quite a craftsman. You will find his initials, B.C., branded into many places throughout the lodge, and a guest favorite remains the hand laid rock fireplace that is a perfect touch to the main lobby area. It was in the early 1980s that the Alexander family — another family with strong roots to the Keystone community and tourism industry — purchased the property. In 2010, Rodney Alexander partnered with Tammy and Cine, and they have worked together ever since to create the experience that has become known as “Battle Creek Lodge and Vacation Rentals.” 

Today, the lodge is run by Tammy and Cine, who took over the day-to-day management in 2010. Cine grew up in Keystone, along with 13 siblings, most of whom still live in and around town. Tammy grew up a couple of hours away, but visited the Black Hills with her family growing up and loved their trips, so settling here was an easy choice. Starting at the lodge, however, was something that came by chance.

It started with a phone call. As Tammy explains, “Cine and I had been back in Keystone for about five years, and Rodney Alexander called us and asked if we would be interested in managing the lodge for a summer. I wasn’t at first, but Cine talked me into it. My fear was also that there weren’t a lot of properties like this left, and if they couldn’t find someone it could be sold and be gone forever. We talked about it, and agreed that we could do anything for 90 days, so we said yes.” 

By the end of the first summer — which Tammy says was the hardest 90 days of her life — they were hooked. “By the end of the 90 days I had learned so much that I never really wanted to know, but I had also just fallen in love with the industry, and so that’s where it started. And to me, it’s really a piece of old Keystone, and that’s what I love; that connection to the historic part of town,” Tammy says. 

From day one at the lodge they’ve said, “May all who enter here as guests depart as treasured friends.” With this mantra in their heart, Tammy and Cine have successfully turned the Battle Creek Lodge into a destination with dedicated fans who come back every year. “We have a [Sturgis] rally crew that has been with us since the very first year. They all came that first year and everybody sort of clicked, and they’ve come back every year since,” Tammy says. 

It isn’t just the connection with Keystone that Tammy and Cine treasure, however. They focus on connecting with every guest that stays, even becoming friends with many and visiting them in the off season. As Tammy says, “the best complement to us is when people leave here in the morning having shared addresses with other guests, and they feel like they’re leaving friends or their favorite Aunts by the end of their time with us.”

Perhaps it’s the cheerful dining room where guests can order breakfast, buy some local produced hamburger to grill for dinner, enjoy a fresh hot cup of coffee, shop for local made treasures in the new gift shop, or maybe it’s the firepit they gather around at night with their guests to make s’mores or have a glass of wine and share stories about their day. One thing is for sure, the Battle Creek Lodge isn’t somewhere you just come to stay. It’s a place you leave having experienced the best that Keystone hospitality has to offer: wonderful food, splendid views, cozy rooms, and best of all, friends to welcome you home. Battle Creek Lodge is the BEST of South Dakota, and they can’t wait to help you plan your upcoming trip. 

The Battle Creek Lodge is open seasonally with vacation rentals that are open year round. For more information, see their chamber listing here.