1848 – First Steam Locomotive arrives in Chicago, Illinois; operates on predecessor of the Chicago and North Western Railway

1869 – Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads completed to form the Transcontinental Railroad

1874 – Custer Expedition to the Black Hills confirms presence of gold

1879 – Homestake Mining Company puts the J.B. Haggin locomotive into service – the first railroad steam locomotive in the Black Hills

1881 – Homestake begins construction of the narrow-gauge Black Hills Railroad (renamed the Black Hills & Fort Pierre Railway in 1882)

1885 – Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad, a subsidiary of the Chicago and North Western completes a line to Buffalo Gap, Dakota Territory – the first standard-gauge railroad to the Black Hills.

1886 – Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley was completed to Rapid City

1888 – Construction begins on the narrow-gauge Deadwood Central Railway between Deadwood and Lead

1889 – South Dakota becomes a state; The Grand Island and Wyoming Central Railroad (subsidiary of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad) reaches Edgemont

1890 – Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley reaches Belle Fourche, Deadwood, and
Hot Springs; Black Hills and Fort Pierre reaches Piedmont

1891 – Grand Island and Wyoming Central reaches Deadwood and Hot Springs

1893 – Grand Island and Wyoming Central reaches Spearfish

1903 – Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley is merged into the Chicago and North Western Railroad

1904 – Grand Island and Wyoming Central, the Burlington and Missouri River, the Black Hills and Fort Pierre, and the Deadwood Central all are formally merged into the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad

1906 – Missouri River and Northwestern Railroad is completed from Rapid City to Mystic

1907 – Chicago and North Western and the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroads reach Rapid City from Pierre and Chamberlain, respectively

1918 – Chicago and North Western and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy begin to abandon narrow gauge lines in the northern Black Hills

1927 – Construction of Mount Rushmore and the Alex Johnson Hotel begin

1930 – Last of the northern Black Hills narrow gauge lines abandoned

1933 – Burlington’s Spearfish line is heavily damaged by flooding; abandoned next year

1948 – Rapid City, Black Hills and Western Railroad abandoned from Rapid City to Mystic

1949 – Last passenger train operates on Burlington from Deadwood to Edgemont

1957 – Black Hills Central Railroad steam tourist passenger trains begin operation on the Burlington’s Hill City to Keystone line

1960 – Last Black Hills area passenger train operates on the Chicago and North Western from Rapid City to Chicago

1969 – Last Black Hills area passenger train operates through Newcastle and Edgemont on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy

1970 – The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy merged into the Burlington Northern Railroad

1972 – Flooding destroys last mile of Burlington Northern/Black Hills Central line to Keystone/ line is rebuilt to a mile west of Keystone

1983 – Burlington Northern abandons High Line from Custer to Deadwood and Lead

1986 – Burlington Northern abandons High Line from Custer to Edgemont; Chicago and North Western’s Rapid City to Pierre line sold to the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad

1995 – Chicago and North Western merged into the Union Pacific Railroad; Burlington Northern merged into the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway

1996 – Union Pacific line from Chadron to Rapid City and Belle Fourche sold to the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern

1998 – Dedication of the entire 106-mile George S. Mickelson Trail from Edgemont to Deadwood on former High Line grade

2001 – Black Hills Central rebuilds line into Keystone/resumes tourist passenger service into Keystone after 29-year absence

2008 – Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad sold to the Canadian Pacific Railway


Sources:
Railroads of the Black Hills by Mildred Fielder, Superior Publishing, 1964
Making the Grade – A Century of Black Hills Railroading by Rick W. Mills, Battle Creek Publishing, 1985
A High Line Scrapbook – The Burlington’s Line to Deadwood by Greg Walters and Rick W. Mills, Battle Creek Publishing, 1986
Railroading in the Land of Infinite Variety – A History of South Dakota’s Railroads by Rick W. Mills, Battle Creek Publishing, 1990
125 Years of Black Hills Railroading – by Rick W. Mills, Battle Creek Publishing, 2004