Northbound from Cheyenne, WY on Interstate 25, U.S. 20, and U.S. 85
Today’s routes from Cheyenne to the Black Hills roughly follows the 1870s and 1880s Cheyenne to Deadwood Trail used by would-be gold miners and others headed north during the Black Hills Gold Rush. Highway 85 angles northeast from Cheyenne to Torrington, a pioneer camp founded on the banks of the North Platte River. From there the route leads north through Lingle and on to Lusk. If you prefer to stay on the Interstate, follow 25 through Chugwater and Wheatland to Orin Junction, then head east on U.S. 30 to Lusk and rejoin 85 for the trip north to the Black Hills. A side trip could take you to historic Fort Laramie, a restored military fort dating back to the 1840s. It was a significant stop on the Oregon, Overland, and the Black Hills wagon train routes.
Now you are more apt to see coal trains that wagons trains in today’s eastern Wyoming. Large coal mining operations in the Powder River basin west of Highway 85 provide a great share of the coal used in power generation plants throughout the Midwest and the South. As you head north toward the Hills you are sure to see some of the pronghorn antelope that are native to the rangelands this region. Ah, Wyoming, you know, where the deer and the antelope play…
Highway 18 heads east at Mule Creek Junction through Edgemont to the southern Black Hills, or further up the road you can head to Custer via Highway 16 at Newcastle. A unique attraction just east of Newcastle is a hand-dug oil well (Accidental Oil Company) that you can tour below the surface. Highway 85 continues north of Newcastle past the Flying V Resort, past Four Corners, and on to Lead and Deadwood.
South Dakota: 511
Northbound from Alliance, NE on U.S. 385
In the days of stage lines to the Black Hills, a main freighting and passenger route ran from Sidney, Nebraska to Deadwood, Dakota Territory. While the stage line was abandoned by the late 1880s, the route was copied in places by railroad lines and later by highways. Much of the route is mimicked by the routing of today’s U.S. Highway 385 between Alliance and Hot Springs. The route in Nebraska has been designated as “The Gold Rush Byway.”
In Alliance, ranching and railroading built the city. The city’s Knight Museum is an interesting stop for the historian in your party. North of Alliance, a local resident has built a unique replica of England’s Stonehenge out of old automobiles—named “Carhenge.”
On the way north, a mix of rangeland, irrigated farming, and eventually pine-covered slopes keep the traveler guessing as to what the next curve will present— next stop Chadron.
Chadron is home to Chadron State College, the Dawes County Historical Museum, and The Museum of the Fur Trade. The Museum of the Fur Trade is located 4 miles east of the city on U.S. Highway 20. Twenty-six miles west of Chadron on Highway 20 is the community of Crawford. Crawford is five miles east of historic Fort Robinson. The great Sioux chief Crazy Horse spent his last days at the Fort before he was killed there in 1877. The former cavalry post is restored and features a museum and playhouse for Summer theatrical performances.
Highway 385 continues north into South Dakota; the Black Hills are visible to the northwest as you cross the state line.