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Medora to Deadwood Trail Ride Revisits History

Photos by James Odermann.

DEADWOOD (2012) – A historic trail ride connecting two Dakota towns rich in history and lore took place in August of 2012. The historic Medora (ND) to Deadwood (SD) trail took riders from North Dakota’s western buttes and Little Missouri River country to the Wild West town of Deadwood in South Dakota’s Black Hills in the 1880s. During the Medora to Deadwood trail ride, modern-day trail riders had a chance to ride the same path.

This stage route will be open for travel in two parts: the southern route, from Buffalo, SD to Deadwood, SD, will took place from August 25 - September 1, 2012. The northern route will be from Buffalo, SD to Medora, ND in the summer of 2013. While travelers in the 1880s took the journey in one shot, present-day organizers are splitting the lengthy trek into two segments, in hopes of enticing even more horsemen and women to make the journey. 

The 1880s were a time in the west when all roads led to Deadwood for the gold rush, brought to light by General Custer’s army and the get-rich-overnight reports of miners from all walks of life. Hearing the reports, aristocratic French nobleman Marquis de Mores established his own stage line from Medora to Deadwood. He charged .10 cents a mile, and the route took the stage to Deadwood, through the Black Hills and to the Badlands. Relay stations were set up every 10 to 15 miles along the route for team changes and passenger breaks. Perhaps some of the passengers were keen on getting rich in the gold rush, but many historians believe this stage was used mainly as a tourism shuttle between the two western cities from 1884 and 1886.

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