One of the famous trails in South Dakota is the Fort Pierre to Deadwood Trail (1876 to 1906), which began where steamboats would dock at the end of Hustan Ave in Fort Pierre near the southwest end of the present Colonel Waldron Missouri River Bridge. The goods would be transferred to the ox driven wagon train for the grueling trip to Deadwood, South Dakota spurred on by the discovery of gold in Deadwood in 1875 with hordes of prospectors, gamblers and storekeepers headed for the Black Hills which was in the heart of the Great Sioux Reservation. The fact that they were trespassing on Indian land didn’t stop them and they kept coming from all directions.
The shortest route to Deadwood was by steamboat from Yankton, South Dakota to Fort Pierre, South Dakota and then this famous trail took them across prairie and creeks to Deadwood. The wooden sign erected in 1975 stated, “At this point freight from the steamships coming up the Missouri River were unloaded onto oxen-drawn wagons for the 200 miles to Deadwood. The round-trip took 30 days over this famous old trail from 1876 to 1906. From 1876 to 1887, Northwestern Railway operated what they called the Bull Train. The 200 mile trip from Fort Pierre to Deadwood took 15 days. Twenty oxen pulled 3 wagons 20,000# of freight or 1,000# for each ox. They traveled from 4am to 10am, rested and grazed ox till 4pm then went again till dark. Thirty wagons and 200 oxen made the complete Bull Train plus extra 50 head used as replacements”.
Roy & Edith Norman, hired hands, families and friends erected the 52 signs every two miles marking the Fort Pierre to Deadwood Trail in 1975 from the Missouri River Bridge in Fort Pierre to the Pennington County line in South Dakota. In 2008, the Verendrye Museum Board of Directors and others from across South Dakota and other states celebrated the 100th Anniversary Commemorative Trail Ride (1908 the ODT was officially closed) with over 500 people involved in the Trail Ride to Deadwood during the two week period from July 29th through August 7th 2008.