Hat Creek Dateline: 1878/12/31
Area is becoming more settled, modernized
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
As the year draws to a close the Cheyenne to Black Hills coaches are still traveling northeast from Rawhide Station and connecting with the Sidney route. The treasure coach "the Monitor" is even now on the Sidney trail.
There have not been any more robberies of the coaches since the massive man-hunt for the road agents after the Canyon Springs robbery. Residents of Custer City and the adjacent mining camps have been striving to have the Cheyenne coaches enter the hills by way of Red Canyon as in earlier times, but to no avail.
Freighting activity through Hat Creek has remained fairly constant until the last few days. Most freighters will not make any more hauls over this route until the milder weather of spring arrives.
There have been many changes in the Black Hills in the last three years, and at least 90 percent of the people, supplies, equipment and machinery that have made these changes possible have traveled through Hat Creek. There are now two telegraph lines, four stage companies, and seven newspapers published in an area that was wilderness a short time ago. Nails now sell for $10 a keg and beer for $3 a keg.
During the last year nearly $3 million worth of gold was produced from the Black Hills. About 15,000 people now live there. Deadwood with a population of 5,000 is the commercial center, with Lead and Central City, the ore crushing centers. There are 38 quartz mills and about 800 stamp mills now in operation.
Some of the major gold discoveries require large amounts of money to develop. California capitalists have paid for the Father DeSmet mine. The Golden Terra has sold for $80,000; the Homestake No. 1 for $70,000; Homestake No. 2 for $50,000; and the Old Abe for $250,000.
Many of the travelers through here are involved with the extensive ranching development of the area north of the Platte River. Catttlemen have pushed north past Rawhide Buttes to the Running Water, on to Lance Creek and the Cheyenne River even on t the Belle Fourche River (North fork of the Cheyenne). There are estimated to be 150,000 cattle now grazing in the valleys of the Black Hills.
Stray bands of Indians slipping away from their agencies have been a constant threat for the new ranches, as they stampeded cattle herds all the way from here at Hat Creek to Pumpkin Buttes, about 90 miles to the northwest.
(Information source: "The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Agnes Wright Spring.)