family history

Carbonate, South Dakota

As my vacation begins, my mind wanders once more to Carbonate. Never heard of Carbonate, South Dakota? Well, I’m not surprised. It no longer exists.

I first learned of it a few years ago while researching my traveling 3x great granny, Mary Morton. During the 1900 census, she lived there with her husband, John Dailey, and her daughter Chloe Dubois who, by that time, had married her husband, Arthur Reynolds and had had her first child, Lee earlier that same year. Mary operated a boarding house, I’m sure with the help of her daughter, while John and Arthur listed their occupations as Day Laborers. I can remember looking at the town name and county, Lawrence (the same county where Deadwood lies) and I wondered then if Carbonate was a mining camp. A quick Google search confirmed what I had assumed.

Carbonate is a mining camp ghost town. This video, produced a few years ago, gives a view of what Carbonate looks like today. The buildings are gone save for a few foundations, and all that remains are remnants of walls and mining camp materials. Still, that doesn’t stop me from wanting to go up there for a personal view of the area. Unfortunately, it is now on private property which makes it a little more difficult. And if you watch the video, you’ll see there are also open mine shafts which makes me want someone familiar with the area to show us around.

This summer, I sent a few emails to Spearfish, South Dakota’s Chamber of Commerce to see if they knew of anyone who might be able to take me up there. After a few back and forth correspondences, all communication stopped after they forwarded my message to two different email accounts asking them to respond directly to me and I never heard anything. One more dead end.

Until my mom and I mentioned it while visiting with our cousins this past July. Our cousin’s husband grew up in the northern hills and he reached out to a real estate agent in the area who knows of someone who can take us up there. Fingers crossed, I’ll finally be able to step foot on what was once Carbonate next summer. Until then, I’m going to enjoy my long weekend traipsing around the hills I love.


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