A little visit to the Old West via Belle Fourche

Kari Trumbo logoDon’t you love visiting places that capture your heart?

It’s funny, way back in 2017 I was writing a series about pioneer towns in South Dakota (my favorite place to write about). I needed 7 towns for the 7 seven sisters to live in. Each would showcase the beauty and wonder of the Black Hills. Well, I ended up with a lot more than 7. And Belle Fourche, though it was on the list, didn’t make the cut for that first series.

That was my mistake.

Little did I know readers would eventually beg me to write more in this sleepy little town. But what makes one town better than 7 others? I mean, I had Deadwood, Keystone, Custer… some of the more famous towns in SD. Surely those would be more sought after? Nope, Belle Fourche still tops them all.

It’s all about the feeling.

Belle Fourche is a town that still has history right around the corner. You can drive through and see the new roads and big bridges, but just off the main road there are quiet streets and salt-of-the-earth people. It wasn’t hard to build that community feeling, because they never lost it.

A bridge to Yesteryear

Belle Fourche Center of the US marker Belle Fourche claims to be the Geographic center of the US. I later found out there are about three monuments just like this, and they all fight for the “actual” claim. I’ll just say the monument is cool to go see, no matter where the actual center is.

Right next to the monument is an original house from the town, preserved for viewing. It’s even smaller than you would expect, smaller than my current living room, and someone lived there whole lives there.

It’s really no wonder some people had severe wanderlust, if you lived in a home with everyone you loved (even if you loved them very much) practically on top of you…maybe that need to go west where there was more wide-open space is better understood through that lens.

As I wandered through the monument and museum. Wait, I didn’t mention the museum? Yeah, that was a highlight of my trip!

When history is less of a mystery

Oddly, I’d already written three books in my Belle Fourche series before I visited, other than via Google. I alwaysCabin in Belle Fourche research a town before I write about it. I was so afraid that I’d gotten it wrong though. *Secret writer fear: We can’t always travel and we’re always terrified that we didn’t get a town quite right.

I wandered through every display with my traveling companion, a fellow reader who had joined me for Wild Deadwood Reads and toured Belle Fourche with me. We both enjoyed the history and feel of Belle Fourche.

Best of all, I was so glad that I left feeling like I got it right and had to write more books, which I did.

But even that wasn’t enough. I still get emails asking for more. Who am I to complain? If a reader loves a series enough that they can’t get enough, I’ll find a way to add more! So, coming in 2022, readers can look forward to a new Belle Fourche series, The Belle Fourche Chronicles.

The next logical step

Belle Fourche museum displayI love taking real history and making it relatable and helping people “live” through a period of history that they enjoy but would never want to actually live through, I mean, the necessary was a necessity but who wants to use one when it’s 40 below? We do live in the great white north.

As I work toward plotting this series, I want to figure out the main goal. What are some of your favorites? I love a family vs. family drama, or the need to build something that will change the town for the better… but Belle Fourche already had rail and a clinic in the first series.

What are your suggestions? I’d love to hear what you’ve read for long series that you’ve loved.

I plan on digging deep into my research books over the next week and maybe something you suggest will make my eye catch on a bit of history that would be perfect.