Dakota Territory Times 2017 DTT 2017 - Page 13

Have you seen the wild burros? One of Custer State Park’s most unusual ac- quisitions is the burro. At one time burros were used to carry visitors from Sylvan Lake to the summit of Harney Peak (now Black Elk Peak). After these rides were discontinued, the burros were allowed to have free run of the park. Presently they are normally found along the Paha Sapa Drive. The Merriam’s turkey was introduced to the park from acquisitions made in Colorado and New Mexico. These birds are very shy, and spotting one of them is quite an achieve- ment, even though there are many throughout the park. BLACK ELK PEAK — Although first spotted by Gen. William Selby Harney in 1855, the history of the peak began in 1857, when Lt. G.K. Warren saw it from a distance and named it after its discoverer. In 1874 Lt. Col. George Custer and a contingent of men tried to climb the peak, but were thwarted a short distance from the top. The first fire lookout building was constructed in 1920 and the present tower in 1938 by the CCC from Camp Doran. It was dedicated into the National Historical Society as a landmark June 13, 1991. Harney Peak was renamed Black Elk Peak in 2016.