“authentically furnished 1880's town that's like a real-life Westworld!”
South Dakota's Original 1880 TOWN has more than 30 buildings from the 1880 to 1920 era, authentically furnished with thousands of relics, historical accounts and photographs, a Casey Tibbs exhibit, Dances with Wolves movie props, and fun activities for kids. Walk down Main Street of this 1880 town and explore more than 30 buildings authentically furnished with thousands of relics. Enjoy the rolling terrain of a sprawling homestead and envision life on the prairie. While at the 1880 town, you can also view memorabilia from the late Casey Tibbs, a champion rodeo bronc rider, and many props that were used in filming the movie “Dances with Wolves”. When Richard Hullinger bought 14 acres at Exit 170 back in 1969 he had no plans for an attraction. In 1972 a gas station was built at this location along with forming an idea of an old west attraction. Later, an additional 80 acres was purchased. About that time a movie company came to a small town nearby to film an 1880 era movie. A main street set was constructed from old buildings and a number of Indian relics and antiques were borrowed from Clarence Hullinger, Richard’s father. Winter set in and the filming was abandoned. The movie company returned home giving the main street set to Clarence for the use of his artifacts. The movie set was moved to the 80 acres and the 1880 TOWN was born! Along with the beginning of the 1880 TOWN began years of collecting what is now an authentic 1880 to 1920 era town from buildings to contents. Clarence and Richard have kept historical value on an equal balance with public appeal, choosing buildings that not only interesting to look at but are also historically correct for an early South Dakota town. The displays and buildings range from Indian relics from the 1970’s to the fourteen-sided barn built in 1919. The tour of the town begins here. The barn boasts an automated hay and manure handling system. It took three days and thousands of dollars to move the barn the 45 miles from its original location south of Draper, SD. In the barn you will see fine antique buggies, toys, stalls with horses in them and a working, turn of the century, coinola, saloon piano from Deadwood. From the barn, the whole town lies before you in a beautiful panoramic view! The first building on the north side is the Vanishing Prairie Museum. The museum was built to house the more valuable collections, many from the General Custer period. Items displayed are a pair of boots and an old army saddlebag from the Custer battlefield that were found at an Indian campsite, parade helmets worn by U.S. Cavalry Indian Scouts with the crossed arrow insignia, Indian dolls, arrowheads, a complete authentic cowboy outfit, photographs and selected interiors of fine Dakota homes. The collection also includes Buffalo Bill items and a tribute to the late Casey Tibbs, 9 time World Champion Rodeo Cowboy. The Dakota Hotel was moved from Draper, SD. Built in 1910, it still carries the scars made by cowboys’ spurs on the staircase. The Gardel & Walker Livery Barn holds a variety of early engines and two wagons from the Indian war era. On an open lot next to the livery is the antique machinery display. St. Stephan’s Church, built in 1915, was moved from Dixon, South Dakota, with everything intact, from the stained glass windows to the bell (which along with the school and fire bell, you are free to ring). The C&N Depot, Express Agency, and Telegraph Office was relocated from Gettysburg, SD. It is filled with railroad equipment right down to a piece of wood with “Tex K.T.” carved by the king tramp in 1927. The town hall which came from Belvidere was renovated in 1984 and the film “Love for the Land” can be seen throughout the day. Step inside the back door to see the Mayor’s office. Next door are the lumber yard and pioneer home. The one-room schoolhouse will bring back many memories for those who were lucky enough to attend one. Ring the bell and step inside to see the ink-well desks, textbooks, reciting bench and roll-up maps. Up front by the blackboard sits the huge stove that never did heat the back of the room and the view through the windows is still the same beautiful prairie that lured the attention from many young students’ studies. About a quarter of a mile east of the town is a homestead complete with windmill, corrals, barn, house and of course, outhouse. This history of the 1880 TOWN is just a snap shot of what you’ll see and experience while visiting our attraction. We are constantly updating and adding items and buildings to the collection so make sure and plan to visit us soon!
This was an unplanned stop off for us. but the signs were so vivid and for so long on the highway that we just couldnt resist. We were really tired after a 4+ hour stint in the car already and another 5+ hours ahead of us in the incredible heat but we needed the stretch and this seemed like an ideal place.
At first we almost balked at the $12 entry fee. For a make shift western town? We thought this was going to be a rip off but we paid anyway and we are sooo glad we did! It was worth that money and more. Once you pay you go into what appears to be just a simple room of crap that was built up over the years. Turns out some of this stuff is for sale. we were pretty disappointed thinking this was it. But when we stepped outside we were greeted by a a large (of the era) town with multiple (up to 20) free standing structure that are open and easily explored. Most of the buildings have plaques to tell you about them and there is more info on the map you get when you pay in. There are also some costumed staff members floating about the place who are more than happy to answer questions.
We got drinks in the saloon, posed for pics with the cowboy mannequins playing poker, pretended to be locked up in the jail, on a runaway horse and cart, having operations in the doctors office and even selling rooms by the hour in the hotel.
Loads to see and do here, and on top of it all there is the look out about 1/4 mile out of town (easily signposted and reached) where you can see long horns and cattle. There is also, for some strange reason a camel. We petted and ed the camel though there is little or no explanation as to why he is there.
Then back in the main building upstairs we found a huge and impressive monument to the movie Dances with Wolves which was filmed locally. Loads of memorabilia and keepsakes from the movie.
This was one of the best stops on our US tour and I highly recommend it for all ages.
Great place to stop. Worth the entrance fee. Giselle (Yorky) loved the longhorns and the ice cream at the saloon. The train diner was neat but the food,,,,,,, our roast beef special consisted of about 2 oz of beef between two pieces of stale bread, Bag of chips, can of pop and a prepackaged cup of pudding
I'm sure it's pretty cool but, I stopped by here Feb 7th and it's closed although the app says open. It's right off the freeway though so, good place to stop and write your initials in the snow lol.
Did not plan on stopping but it looked so cool from the highway I could not help it, and I really am glad we stopped. May have been a little pricy but the Saloon was on-point and the root beer was right on time. Great photo ops and super nice people. If you have a little extra cash in your budget and need a break along the way then this is a great place to get out and stretch your legs. There is a train diner there as well and it has some great hotdogs. There is a live Camel which was very strange but kind of cool. My teenagers all enjoyed it to so thats a pretty good sign for me :).
This place is pretty big, so plan on spending some time here... especially if you have kids. There's a lot of really neat stuff here that you won't find anywhere else, and it's cute that they give you the option to dress up :)
This stop was one of our favorites! I recommend renting the costumes and touring the grounds wearing them. It made our time there so fun! Don't miss the music/comedy routine in the saloon or the donkey ride around town.
We visited with ages 15, 9, 7, and 4. We were a little tired from the road but this was not our favorite stop. The kids just weren't as into it as I thought they'd be.
Closed for the season on April 1st. Looked like it would have been a cool stop though. Literally RIGHT off the highway.
Very disappointed to drive from Spearfish on a beautifully warm fall day only to find that they’re closed for the season. The website, Facebook page give no indication that they completely close - only that there is modified hours during off-season.
Not sure I’m willing to make an effort to come back.
Totally not worth the money! Would skip this stop all together.
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