New road to Deadwood completed
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
The new road from Hat Creek north to Deadwood Gulch has just been completed. William M. Ward and his crew of 32 workmen completed the construction under the direction of the Territorial Engineer. On June 2, 1875, the Laramie County Commissioners had appropriated $5,000 for construction of this road. It follows the old Fort Laramie to Fort Pierre freight trail. This route had also been used by the Jenny geological expedition early in 1875 with their 60 government wagons and 400 men.
On Nov. 11, 1875, Judge Kuykendall of Cheyenne had introduced into the territorial legislature..."an act to locate and establish a territorial wagon road from Cheyenne to the Black Hills of Wyoming and Dakota." This bill became law on Dec. 1, and provided a means for Laramie County to appoint a road commissioner to "proceed to locate such a road on the nearest and most practicable route on the west side of said Black Hills, if a good practicable route therefore can be obtained."
The stage company personnel have been busy locating stops on the new route and transferring livestock and equipment to the new stops. The new route will shorten the distance from Cheyenne to Deadwood to 266 miles, with the former route by way of Custer City the distance was 311 miles.
In response to the June 1 hold-up attempt, Superintendent Luke Voorhees, of the stage line, has ordered all up coaches to have a 12-hour lay-over at Hat Creek each night. This order will be in effect until the drivers and teams become acquainted with the new road.
The first stop north of Hat Creek on the new route will be where Sage Creek runs into Old Woman Creek, Sourdough Dick is the stock tender. Jim May and his brother, D. Boone May, are the stock tender and station keepers on the next two stops. Jim's ranch is where Old Woman Creek meets Lance Creek. His brother's stop is called Robber's Roost, located on the Cheyenne River.
From Robber's Roost the route follows a ridge northeastward to where it crosses the Cheyenne River and proceeds to Jenney Stockade close to Beaver Creek, 56 miles south of Deadwood. This station is operated by James Mathewson. The next stop north is called Beaver Station located on Beaver Stockade Creek, the stock tender here is known as "Frenchy,"
Canyon Springs is the last relay station before Deadwood, it is merely a log barn with quarters built in it for the stock tender, William Miner. From here the route follows Whitewood Creek most of the way to where it enters "South Deadwood." It then follows Sherman Street, crosses the stream over the Lee Street Bridge and pulls up on Main Street at the stage office next door to The Place Saloon.
(Information sources: "Fort Laramie 1876," by Paul Hedren; "Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Agnes Wright Spring.)