Wednesday, April 12, 2017


The closest town to Echo Valley Campground is Custer, SD and just four miles to the west of Custer is Four Mile

Custer is a fairly small town, that is once again more of a tourist town than anything.  As with the other towns Sturgis merchandise was the main selling item there.

As for meals. There were two national brand locations we recognized, Dairy Queen and Pizza Hut.   We ended up eating at Pizza Hut because they were fairly close in price to what we are accustomed to paying in Oklahoma.

We prefer to eat at local restaurants rather than national chains as we travel, but when we stepped into a local buffet, similar to the Golden Corral chain, the hostess met us at the door and informed us that the Senior Buffet was $20 each.  We decided that was a little rich for our taste especially since neither of us eat near as large meals as we did when we were young.  I will say that the variety she mentioned and the smells of the food seemed to be good.  Just too expensive for a shoestring budget traveler.

Apparently the town “paint your statue” fund raiser for Custer was bison, just as Lindsborg, KS had the Dahla and Tulsa, OK has their penguins.  We saw several of the large painted beasts around town.

Four Mile, SD was originally a watering hole for the stage coach line and a fort. So when we saw the billboards stating it was a historical town we naturally had to stop by.

It was our first slight disappointment of the trip, we went here before we went to Deadwood.  Yes, it was a historical location, and yes we knew it would be a mock up of the days gone by, but we weren’t prepared for all the modern items “stored” there, or the state of disrepair it was in.

The fee was $5 each  for a self-guided tour.  You are handed an older cassette tape player and told to punch the buttons as needed.  The gentleman’s voice on the tape was pleasant, and definitely not a professional.  He did give many interesting tidbits of information.  So it was a learning experience. Definitely a home grown site and not professionally done by some nameless corporation.
What we objected to was the storage of dead modern appliances in many of the stockade rooms.  Had these rooms been simply blocked off from view our overall feeling for the place would probably been far better.  We did not take photos of those rooms because there was no need.  This is the building the majority of the offenders were in.

We also objected to hats hanging on pegs in the saloon with modern beer advertisement headbands, modern clothing on the display mannequins, and plastic advertisement trays, again something that could easily be remedied.

 And the overall very weathered displays, with warped flooring and illegible signs.

Our cassette tape player even ran out of battery power before we finished our hot walk around the area. 

As you can tell from the photos there were many building and some of the displays were well done.  It is a family owned operation with none of the bells and whistles of a corporate owned property.

The family has done it all themselves incorporating what was already there such as what appeared to be a tipi shaped charcoal kiln they choose to take advantage of its shape to set it up as if it were a tipi.
But then again there were modern items inside, so it took away from the exhibit.

Parts of the stockade did have interesting items in them, but many of the rooms were simply junk storage.  So here are a few of the nicer places.

I am certain that budget concerns have a lot to do with the condition of some of the boardwalks and displays, but again the modern stuff could easily be removed or blocked from sight and it would add so very much to the over ambiance of the old west town.

Was it interesting? Yes.

Did we learn anything from our visit?  Yes.

Did we take a lot of photos?  Yes far more than I have placed in this blog.

 Was the price within the shoestring prices we choose to try to stay within?  Yes.

 Were we disappointed in the condition of the place? Yes.

Would we pay to visit it again?  No. It was one of those places we visited out of curiosity and were just slightly disappointed in, but did enjoy ourselves looking at the displays that were period correct.

  So if you are in the area and have limited time and entertainment money I suggest you look at the photos and decide for yourself if that is where you want to spend your time and money on a visit to this historical site.  After all, we were both too warm the day we were there so it may have tainted our viewpoint somewhat.

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