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Keystone Historical Museum: Faces and Events that Shaped Keystone

Gutzon Borglum, Senator Peter Norbeck, CC Gideon, Carrie Ingalls, Wild Horse Harry Hardin and Sugar Babe—wondering who half of these names are? Fittingly enough, the building you can learn about all of these people together was used as Keystone’s schoolhouse for almost a century. 

Built in 1900 in Victorian architectural style, the Keystone Schoolhouse originally had space to teach 300 students. It served this function until 1988, and now houses the Keystone Historical Museum. The museum chronicles the names and events that shaped Keystone into the bustling town it is today, and is well worth a few hours' time to visit.

The Keystone Historical Museum chronicles the history of Keystone from the beginning—even to its naming in 1891. Speaking of naming things, did you know that Holy Terror Mine was named after an original inhabitant of Keystone? In 1894, William Franklin and his daughter found a piece of quartz laden with gold. When William went to Rapid City to file his claim, legend has it his partner encouraged him to name the discovery for his wife. Thus, Holy Terror Mine was named, not directly for her but jokingly after her temper; though Jennie Franklin was probably less than amused.

Other notable displays of the Keystone Historical Museum include the Ingalls collection, which has memorabilia from the family of “Little House on the Prairie” fame. Carrie Ingalls came to Keystone to manage the local newspaper, and settled here for good when she married local widower David Swanzey and raised his children. Years later, when the mines had busted and the country was in the depths of the Great Depression, Keystone found an economic resurgence that would fuel Keystone for decades: the carving of Mount Rushmore. While initially the influx of miners simply kept Keystone afloat, their work has undoubtedly been the glue that has kept Keystone together through thick and thin ever since.

Many more stories and people await exploration at the Keystone Historical Museum, enough to fill your afternoon after enjoying all the fun our downtown has to offer. They are open May through September; for further info, see their listing here.