Report on Wind Cave, Crater Lake, Sullys Hill, Platt, and Mesa Verde National Parks and Casa Grande Ruin. 1907









This park is located near the southern end of the Black Hills of western South Dakota, about 12 miles east of the town of Hot Springs, and 12 miles southeast of the town of Custer. It has an area of 16i square miles (10,560 acres). The entrance to the cave. three-fourths of a mile north-northeast of the center of the reservation, is 8A miles north of Hot Springs, S. Dak., the most convenient railway station.

It was set aside as a public park by act of Congress approved January 9. 1903 (32 Stat. L., 765). The park is placed under the exclusive control of the Secretary of the Interior, who, among other things, is authorized to prescribe rules and regulations and establish such service as may be deemed necessary for its management and protection, and, in his discretion, to rent or lease the cave from which the park takes its name, and also the parcels of ground within the park for the erection of such buildings as may be required for the accommodation of visitors, the income from such rentals or leases to be expended in the care and improvement of the park.

The act provides for the relinquishment of unperfected bona fide claims and patented lands within the limits of the park and the securing of lands outside the park in lieu thereof. This provision was not repealed by the act of March 3, 1903 (33 Stat. L., 64), repealing the act of June 4, 1897 (30 Stat. L., 36), and acts amendatory thereto, allowing selections in lieu of lands situated in forest reserves, and accordingly a letter of instructions providing for selections in lieu of lands situated within the limits of the park was issued August 14, 1905.

At the time of the creation of the park there were ten entries, covering 1,519.15 acres, 5 of which, covering 799.76 acres, have been canceled, and 5 entries, covering 719.39 acres, have been found to be proper in all respects and patents have been issued therefor. It is very desirable for administrative purposes that all private and other interests be eliminated from the park, and an appropriation for that purpose should be made by Congress.

Sections 16 and 36, set aside for use as school land for the State of South Dakota by the organic act of February 20, 1889 (25 Stat. L., 676). creating said State, are located within the limits of the park. Negotiations were accordingly entered into with the governor of South Dakota with a view to having the State relinquish its right to such school lands and selecting in lieu thereof. under the provisions of the act of February 28, 1891. lands outside of the limits of the park, which has recently been accomplished.

During the year 2.751 tourists visited the reservation, the majority of whom were shown through the Wind Cave by competent guides, without whose assistance it would be dangerous for one not thoroughly familiar with the cave to make the trip. The stairs and paths in the cave have been renewed and repaired.

A survey of the boundaries of the park has been completed and a map of the same prepared, and a hydrographic survey to determine the existence and nature of the waters within the limits of the park has been made, upon the results of which the water system herein referred to was based.

A water and pipe system for conveying water from Beaver Creek. at the northwestern boundary of the park. to the superintendent’s office and residence building, a distance of about 2 miles, has been completed and will remedy along felt -want, as the geological formation of the land precluded obtaining water by means of artesian wells, and there is no other source of supply except a spring located on patented land in the park, from which it was impracticable to take water.

Mr. Seth Bullock. now marshal for the district of South Dakota, with the consent of the Attorney-General, continued in general charge of the reservation, and the superintendent, Mr. William A. Rankin. in accordance with instructions, has conferred with him in regard to its administration.

A revocable privilege has been granted to the wife of the superintendent to furnish meals to tourists at 50 cents each. which service had proved to be very desirable and satisfactory in former seasons. An estimate for an appropriation of $2,700 for the management and improvement of the park has been submitted to Congress.