Family Ties: Girls Trip to the Black Hills

I didn’t grow up in South Dakota, but was visiting family recently and had an unanticipated run-in with South Dakota history.  We were sitting around their kitchen table and I was listening to stories of all the old photos–every visit I see some of the same photos but there also seems to be something new.

One of my grandparents (well, a step-grandparent) shared a small album that their mother had put together after visiting South Dakota’s Black Hills with her friends in the early 1930s.  It was right at the start of the period when the highways to and within the Black Hills, as well as tourist facilities, were being improved and the ‘common folk’ could better access the area for vacation.  Needles Highway had been built in the 1920s, but Mount Rushmore would have still been in progress during their trip.  The cell phone photos I quickly grabbed of the unlabeled album aren’t great, but it made such an impact that I thought I’d share them anyway.  It’s amazing the feeling you get when you find a personal connection to interesting history.

Professionally, I think it’s fascinating that this young woman from a farm in Minnesota first, went on a vacation out to the Black Hills, but second, that she went with four female friends.  I would have guessed it to be unusual for five young women to travel that far alone in the 1930s, but maybe I need to check my preconceptions.  I wonder if they were school friends, or related?  Also: why they went, how long they were there, where they stayed, how they made travel arrangements, whether they had car trouble, what camera they had brought…

The first photos in the album are them posted with their car, perhaps before getting on their way.  I love that they have vacation outfits, all ready for outdoor exploration, some trunks strapped to the back with a spare tire…

This has to be the Badlands.  From quick Wikipedia research, the Badlands Loop road, SD Highway 240, was just starting to be constructed in the early 1930s.  The national monument there was later created in 1939, and it became a national park in 1978.

I’m not totally sure where this is, but it reminds me of photos I’ve taken around the Needles Highway/Iron Mountain Road loop.

And I just love this, at a cabin they perhaps stayed at, with their ties… !  The woman on the right is the one related to me (by marriage).

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