2 On The Road Blog

After 12 years of full-time rving, we've sold our truck and trailer but we're still traveling. Email us at wowpegasus@hotmail.com if you would like to contact us.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Hill City, SD and the 1880 Train

Hill City's 1880 Train runs out of the 1889 depot.  From the 1880 Train website - "It is a two-hour, narrated 20-mile round trip between Hill City and Keystone. Passengers view vistas of Harney Peak, mining encampments and participate in good old-fashioned fun. Trains follow the original route of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad laid down in the late 1880s to service the mines and mills between Hill City and Keystone. The Black Hills Central Railroad is the oldest continuously operating tour railroad in the nation and operates three steam and two diesel engines throughout the season. One of our steam engines is close to 100 years old!"

The steam engines burn recycled motor oil. A couple times each trip, the fireman throws sand into the firebox. This sand is drawn through the flues to clean them and is exhausted from the stack. Some of this sand may fall on passengers, but it is easily brushed off.  

There are six passenger cars.   For the trip to Keystone we rode in the Drovers car, which was at the end of the train.

It takes about 200 gallons of oil and 1,000 gallons of water for one round trip with Engine #104. Engine #7 takes almost twice as much fuel, and Engine #110 takes 200 gallons of oil and 2,000 gallons of water.  #110 was pulling the train we were on.

This is the round house where the locomotives are serviced.

The 1880 train runs on standard gauge track.  A standard gauge track has rails that are 4’ 8 ½” apart. There are spots along the route where narrow gauge track has been laid.  On most narrow gauge track, the rails are 3’ apart – although there are other narrow gauges as well. 

We saw lots of deer along the route.

Here you can see the locomotive and all six cars.

Harney Peak at 7,192' is the tallest mountain east of the Rocky Mountains.

There is a stone fire watch tower on the top of Harney Peak but it is no longer in use. 

Section of narrow gauge train in Oblivion, an old mining encampment.

I believe the narrator said this was water being burned off from lower in the boiler.

On the trip back to Hill City, we rode in the Keystone car.  This was a fancy car but it sure creaked a lot more than the drover's car we rode in on the way to Keystone. 

Keystone's roundhouse was washed out in a flood many years ago so the locomotive disconnects from the train and backs up on a side rail.

It backs to the junction then reverses down the rail the cars are on.  So for the trip back to Hill City, the locomotive runs in reverse.  All the seat back have a mechanism that allows the seat backs to be reversed so we reversed our seats so we were facing toward the front of the train.   The last car now becomes the first car. 

Here's the locomotive pulling the train in reverse.

There were three pickups along this road.   Although we didn't see them, the owners were rock climbing.

There as been a lot of rain lately and one of the flooding casualties was the Hill City soccer field.
Sculptures along Hill City's Main Street.  You can see more of the details if you click on the photo to enlarge it.

Don't you just love the spoon nose?

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