Fun For All Ages @ Spearfish

We’ve had a wonderful time here in the Black Hills of South Dakota this summer and early fall. We continue to enjoy working at DC Booth Historic National Hatchery, along with taking in all the other attractions that the Black Hills area has to offer, and spending lots of leisure time with all our new friends we’ve made here at the hatchery.

We sit around the campfire nearly every night to share stories and learn about each other

Besides all that, you’ve probably seen my post about the Sturgis Bike Rally that took place here in early August and now this month (Labor Day weekend) the happening things here include the 18th annual “Dakota Five O” bicycle race/ride/tour AND the 8th annual Spearfish City Campground Boat Race (down the Spearfish Creek) for the little ones.

We had a great time taking in both this past weekend and I shot some video to share with you. Check it out below,

The daily visitor count at the hatchery has really slowed down now that the Labor Day weekend has passed and now we can actually stand out in front of our rig at the campground and see clear through the aisles to two or three streets over! There are maybe 15 or so other campers besides the 10 of us volunteer rigs parked in Volunteer Village along the north edge of the campground. The leaves on the trees are JUST started to turn and it’s evident that fall is quickly approaching.

The weather man this morning said it’ll be in the 60’s next week. Brrrr!

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If you’re curious (at any time) to know where we are at that moment then click the button at the top right of this page labeled “See Where We Are Now“.

We’d love to hear from you. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, you can send us a note. Again, thanks for riding along. ’til next time – safe travels.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our Visit to Deadwood and Lead

Just want to let you know, it’s pronounced “Leed” not like pencil lead, but to “lead” a horse to water. The reason the town is called Lead is that there are quartz-like veins in the rock that “lead” the miner to the gold in the mines. Back in the day these were sometimes called Lodes .. as in “We hit the mother lode”.

We are so glad that we had the opportunity to visit and volunteer in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We have heard so much about the beauty that abounds in this area of the country and when we found out about the possibility of volunteering at D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives … well … we jumped at the chance!

A view of part of the hatchery grounds looking down from the trail

We are camped in “Volunteer Village” which is a separate area of the Spearfish City Campground. The entire campground is set along side Spearfish Creek that starts up in Spearfish Canyon and travels down through the City of Spearfish and travels north to eventually become the Redwater River and then ultimately into Belle Fourche Resevoir.

Our site along with the 9 other couples in Volunteer Village at the city campground
A group of boys enjoying Spearfish Creek right in back of our RV sites

Since we work 3 half days on duty / 3 days off) as volunteers at the hatchery, we have plenty of time to see the sights. Add to that the fact that one of our additional benefits of working here is that we are given VIP passes from the Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association.

This card gives us the opportunity to visit 50+ area attractions for free or deep discounted pricing. The purpose is to familiarize us volunteers with everything that the Black Hills & Badlands area has to offer and be eager to share the information about the attractions with visitors to the hatchery as we serve as tour guides in the venues here.

The list of free and discounted attractions offered by BH & Badlands Tourism Assoc

One of the first places we just had to check out when we got here was the City of Deadwood, just about 20 miles south of Spearfish. We also visited the City of Lead.

As you can see by the map below, the downtown areas are only about 3.5 miles apart … it’s like one larger community now but back in the day there was quite the rivalry between the towns … so much so that when the wealthy W.E. Adams at age 71 married his second wife of only 28 years, the gossip and shame cast upon him by other upstanding citizens of the community was NOT the fact that he was marrying a MUCH younger woman, but that he was from Deadwood and she was from Lead!

(The following was taken from blackhillsknowledgenetwork.org) ” Lead was founded in April 1876 by brothers Fred and Moses Manuel who had ventured out from the booming gold town of Deadwood in search of gold. The brothers discovered a promising vein of ore near current-day Lead. Such veins were called leads. The brothers staked their claim, built a mill and in the spring of 1876 mined $5,000 worth of gold from what would eventually become Homestake Gold Mine. “

Kathy wanted a coffee, so we stopped in to this cute little former gas station in Deadwood that now serves as a coffee shop and a glass-blowing studio! Customers can buy the finished product, or make their own at the direction of the owner.

After the coffee stop, we moved on to the Homestake Mine / Sanford Lab Visitor Center just down the road in Lead where we were treated to a trolley tour of the town and the history of the gold mine and the impact it had on the town. The mine was closed in 1983, but is being used today as a research facility at over 5000′ below ground level (under the open pit portion). When the mine was in operation, it had over 350 miles of tunnels down as deep at 8500 feet!

A Google Maps shot of the open pit mine at Homestake (over 1.5 miles wide)

They dug the open pit as deep as they could and ultimately started digging and blasting tunnels down as deep as 8500′ below ground level!

This was a fascinating tour and you can find out more about the history of the Homestake Mine and it’s impact on the area around towns of Lead and Deadwood along with the current neutrino research work going on underground at the 5000′ level by following this link.

While in Deadwood we toured the historic Adams House, the Adams Museum, the Days of ’76 Museum, the Homestake Opera House, and the Silverado Casino.

We drove to the top of Mount Roosevelt located just northwest of Deadwood in the Black Hills National Forest where we parked and then took a trail and walked up about 3/4 mile to the site of the “Friendship Tower” that was built by Teddy Roosevelt’s good friend Seth Bullock. We just happened to be there on the 100th anniversary of the completion of the tower July 4, 1919.

Built in memory of Teddy Roosevelt by his friend Seth Bullock
Sherry, Matt, Kathy, and me at the overlook on Mt Roosevelt

After Mount Roosevelt we drove on up to Mount Moriah – the highest point in Deadwood and the home to Deadwood Cemetery. We drove up through the narrow old streets to the parking lot, paid our $2 entry fee and then continued to climb up through the grounds stopping to look at well worn stone monuments of those early pioneers we didn’t know and we saw the burial spot of some of the more famous Black Hills pioneers as well.

Entrance to the Deadwood Cemetery on Mt. Moriah (Kathy, Sherry & Matt up ahead)
Looking over one of the hills of burial plots in the cemetery
Plaques memorializing Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane
The Burial Site and Grave Monument of Wild Bill Hickok
Calamity Jane’s Burial Site & Monument

Continuing our walk up the streets of the cemetery to the top, we then turned off to a trail that took us up another 750 feet to the burial site of Roosevelt’s good friend Seth Bullock. Seth wanted to be buried at this spot so that he could look across the valley to the Friendship Tower on the top of Mount Roosevelt. You can read all about Seth Bullock, his influence on Deadwood and the Black Hills along with his close friendship with Teddy Roosevelt by reading this Wikipedia article.

Our 750′ climb up from the top of the cemetery to Seth Bullocks burial site
Seth Bullock’s Grave Site
A lot of folks leave stones as a sign of remembrance and respect

There’s still much more to see and do in the Deadwood / Lead area and you can find out more by following this link.

We’re having a wonderful time volunteering here in the Black Hills at DC Booth Historic Fish Hatchery and we have a lot more to share with you. We’ll continue to send along updates as we visit new and interesting places in the area.

If you’re not already subscribed to this blog, you can easily do so by scrolling up to the top of any page and entering your email address in the block on the right side.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel (herbnkathyrv) on You Tube.

If you’re curious (at any time) to know where we are at that moment then click the button at the top right of this page labeled “See Where We Are Now“.

We’d love to hear from you. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, you can send us a note. Again, thanks for riding along. ’til next time – safe travels.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Volunteering at D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery

Really? We don’t fish … we don’t cook or even eat ENOUGH fish (according to the health experts) and we don’t really have any desire to handle fish or even SMELL fish! Why on earth would we consider working at a fish hatchery as one of our Workamping / Volunteering gigs?

Our good friends Phil and Cheryl volunteered here in 2016 and other good friends Matt and Sherry volunteered here in 2018 and they ALL highly recommended that we get on the list to volunteer here. Matt and Sherry were coming back again this year (’19) and so we submitted our application and resume’ back in August of 2018 and were accepted as volunteers.

D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives is not your normal production fish hatchery. There are 90 national U.S. Fish & Wildlife fish hatcheries throughout the nation along with many other state-managed hatcheries that are still in full-time operation.

This hatchery was an active production facility from it’s completion of construction in 1899 until 1983. At that time it was closed as a major production facility and turned into the national hatchery education site and archives.

Volunteering here has given both Kathy and I a new appreciation for serving as “tour guides” doing interpretive work. We were both a little nervous about this new role in our lives as volunteers. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that most of our volunteer experiences have been working in private or public RV parks or campgrounds as hosts, cleaning crew, or office duties. Although all of these positions have involved working with the public and have given us the opportunity to meet and talk with a lot of new people, we’ve not been put in the position of “tour guide” doing interpretive work.

Would we be able to learn the script? Would we be able to smile all day? Would we be able to be on our feet for four and a half hours at a time? We were not concerned about the camp site, the area, or the management. We were confident that would all be great … thanks to our friends who’d worked here before.

We have to say that as of this writing … we’ve only been here about 3 weeks now … it’s been a wonderful experience and we’re quite comfortable with doing the interpretive work (tour guides) and we’re really enjoying our interactions with the other volunteers and being able to see the many sights that the Black Hills of South Dakota have to offer.

There are basically four different venues here where the volunteers are scheduled to work. Our venue assignments are rotated each shift. Spouses work the same shifts. We work 3 half-days on duty, then 3 full days off duty.

We might work in; the Museum, the Fish Car, the Booth House, or the Gift Shop.

The original hatchery building, constructed in 1899

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

Fish Car #3 and the Ice House

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

The Booth House – where hatchery Superintendents and their families lived

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

The “Pond Shop” gift shop overlooking pond #1
Inside the gift shop we sell hatchery merchandise and LOTS of fish food!
The “Pond Gift Shop” and restrooms with Pond #1 at the left

There are 10 RV sites in “Volunteer Village” which is a separate area of the beautiful Spearfish City Campground that is dedicated to use by volunteers at D.C. Booth Hatchery. We are supplied the Full Hookup site, 45 channel cable, free wi-fi and a community fire pit area where we often gather each night for a campfire with smores and stories. Sometimes we have pot luck meals there too!

Our sites back up to Spearfish Creek and a walking trail
Boys having fun floating down Spearfish Creek right behind our rigs

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

Another special perk of this position is that the volunteers all get a “VIP” card to carry in their wallet. This card is issued by the Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association and it entitles us to free admission to about 40 area attractions and discounts in area gift shops and restaurants.

The idea is that as tour guides at D.C. Booth we have the opportunity to meet and interact with hundreds of visitors daily and we should take the opportunity to talk with them about other attractions in the area. We’re kind of a “mini marketing” team for other things to see and do nearby.

This is the list of all the attractions free to tourism VIP’s

Some of these benefits are valued at just a few dollars while others are over $100 per ticket. It’s a great idea to promote the are wonderful benefit for us too!

While we are here at Spearfish (through Sept 2019) I’ll be writing other short blog posts about our excursion trips that we take using the VIP cards so you can get a better feel for a lot of what there is to offer here in the beautiful Black Hills!

If you think you might be interested in volunteering at D.C. Booth Historic Fish Hatchery and Archives, visit their web site at https://dcboothfishhatchery.org/volunteer-programs/

If you’re not already subscribed to this blog, you can easily do so by scrolling up to the top of any page and entering your email address in the block on the right side.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel (herbnkathyrv) on You Tube.

If you’re curious (at any time) to know where we are at that moment then click the button at the top right of this page labeled “See Where We Are Now“.

We’d love to hear from you. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, you can send us a note. Again, thanks for riding along. ’til next time – safe travels.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
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