Updated: Feb 10, 2019
Looking for an adventure that's a little bit spooky but a lot of fun? Try exploring Spokane, South Dakota; one of the Black Hills hidden ghost towns.
This place is so obscure, you can't even use Google Maps for directions -Google doesn't know how to find it. Start by heading south on North Playhouse Road. Almost immediately before it intersects with Iron Mountain Road, there will be a small parking pull-off and Forest Service trailhead to your left. It isn't well marked, you really have to watch for it; but it is easy enough to find (especially if using a Forest Service Map).
Spokane was another of the many gold rush mining towns that popped up in the Black Hills area in the late 1800s. However, this mine actually produced silver, copper, zinc, and various other precious metals. The small town was booming for decades (its heyday being in the late 1920s). It boasted population numbers as high as 2,000 people before the mine went bust. Afterwards, it and the town were almost completely abandoned by the 1950s.
After enjoying a short walk along the wide and well worn trail, old buildings start to appear. The first large building you come upon is actually the old schoolhouse. Although now decrepit and falling apart fast, both stories still stand tall. Around it are several other points of interest including old cars, a shack, a storage cellar, and at least one well.
At this point, I should express the importance of staying on the paths and trails while in the entire area of Spokane. The trails are perfectly safe. Off trail the terrain contains countless hazards; everything from local wildlife to the man made terrors of broken glass, old scraps of sharp rusty metal, and open pits and wells, just to name a few. Please keep your dogs on leashes while here, and for the safety of yourself and your pooch do NOT go off trail. Also, please resist entering any of the buildings. They are all completely unstable and are not safe for you or your dog to venture inside. Please admire everything from the outside and keep your party safe.
Spokane contains a maze of trails and pathways spread all over the former town. The majority of the trails are soft dirt and sand, and some were the original roads and walkways used by its citizens. They lead towards tucked away treasures and secret ruins such as old foundations, root cellars, or the many abandoned antique appliances now sacrificed to the sun.
The most complete building is also the most hidden. Known as 'The Manager's House' it is simply that -the house lived in by the manager of the mine and who is believed to be the very last person to leave Spokane. This two story house is still standing strong with its visible cellar and front porch still intact.
We all had a great time; this is a really fun place to explore. The scenery in the area is beautiful. The dogs loved getting to be out in nature experiencing the past and present in the same sniff. We spent about 2 hours walking all the trails and looking for all the hidden things. Some were obvious, others well kept secrets. It's like history's scavenger hunt; can you find all the artifacts before they're gone forever?
This former mountain town that once bustled with life now sits quietly in the forest, allowing time to take it by the hand and lead it gently into ruin. It's an eerie place to be, with the beauty of nature reclaiming the folly of man's creations. The whole place has its own ominous message -that everything built by humans will eventually crumble, and nature is eagerly waiting to move in and take it back.
If you happen upon James Shepard's grave while there please pay your respects; it is his mining claim after all.