Custer County 1881 Courthouse Museum
The Custer County 1881 Courthouse Museum (411 Mt. Rushmore Rd., 605/673-2443, www.1881courthousemuseum.com, summer Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun. 1–8 p.m., closed in winter, adult $5, senior $4, child 12 and over $1, child under 12 free), an original 1881 courthouse and jail, explores the history of Custer and the Black Hills.
The George Armstrong Custer Expedition, which passed through this area in 1874, was not an ordinary military excursion. In addition to the military personnel, the military band was brought along for music in the evening, news correspondents were brought, and a scientific team completed the company, including two miners.
The purpose of the expedition was officially to find a location for a military post, a legal excursion under the terms of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty with local Native American populations. The unofficial purpose for the expedition may well have been the search for gold, not an activity allowed under the treaty terms. Gold was discovered in French Creek near Custer, the news correspondents spread the word, and the gold rush was on.
Photos of the 1874 Custer expedition, weapons of the Old West, Native American artifacts, and an antique stagecoach and wagon are museum highlights.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition