SPEARFISH, S.D. – Known as the Queen City of the Black Hills, this once-sleepy farming town has become a thriving center for commerce, medicine, higher education, outdoor recreation and tourism.
This town is also one of the fastest growing municipalities in South Dakota. Today, the Spearfish area is home to nearly 13,000 residents.
The city was founded in the early 1870s. The Queen City name derives from the crown of peaks -- Lookout Mountain, Spearfish Mountain and Crow Peak – that surround the city on the banks of Spearfish Creek. Fur traders and early Native Americans coined the name of the creek and the town, known as a great place to “spear fish.”
Originally, Spearfish was a farming community that provided supplies to the mining industry in Deadwood during the gold rush. But the area’s natural beauty -- including the fast-running waters of Spearfish through the heart of the city, and the limestone walls of Spearfish Canyon just outside of town -- made it an attractive destination for outdoor lovers and tourists.
U.S. Highway 14A through Spearfish Canyon is a National Scenic Byway. The canyon also provides a number of opportunities for hiking, fly fishing, biking, bird watching and photography. Spearfish Creek is a popular waterway for kayaking and inner tubing. Others swim and fish at Iron Creek Lake, formed by the Works Progress Administration in 1936 and 1937.
“Spearfish is 12-month-a-year place to visit. And there’s far more to do and see than you can do in a weekend,” said Mistie L. Caldwell, Executive Director of Visit Spearfish.
The Northern Black Hills landscape provides opportunities for winter recreation such as snowmobiling or skiing. Terry Peak Ski Area and the Mystic Miner Ski Resort at Deer Mountain are both nearby.
A big part of the city’s growth is due to Black Hills State University. The institution started in 1883 as the Spearfish Normal School and now provides 56 different academic programs to some 4,000 students.
Spearfish is also home to attractions such as the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery. It is one of the oldest operating hatcheries and a living fishery museum. In addition, the Spirit of the Hills Wildlife Sanctuary provides shelter to nearly 300 animals, and the Matthew’s Opera House created in 1906, is still the location of theatrical performances and the Spearfish Arts Center.
Spearfish’s High Plains Western Heritage Center offers a lesson in the history of famous pioneers and Native Americans from South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska. Ranchers Harry Blair and Edgar Gardner opened the center in 1989. Another draw for Spearfish is its thriving downtown area. Main Street is known for its variety of unusual unique shops. There’s also fine dining, shopping and lodging throughout the city.
For more information or to reserve lodging, visit VisitSpearfish.com.
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