The actual Thoen Stone is located in the Adams Museum in Deadwood, but a replica of the stone is still located on the site where it was discover nearly 120 years ago.
The stone was located at the foot of Lookout Mountain by Louis and Ivan Thoen in 1887. The sandstone slab told of the tragic demise of seven men searching for gold in the Black Hills in 1834.
But rumors of the stone's authenticity have persisted since its discovery.
Wear and tear by nature's elements have taken a toll on the replica, so a few weeks ago Callie Houghton, Paul Harper and Rand Williams from the Spearfish Area Historical Society cleaned up the area around the stone, mowing the grass, and painting the rock to give it a fresh new look for the tourist season. Heislers Ace Hardware Store donated the paint for the project.
As the story goes, while digging for sandstone on March 14, 1887, the older brother, Louis, a stone cutter, came upon a slab that appeared to have an inscription on it. Upon closer inspection, he was able to make out the words: "came to these hills in 1833, seven of us, all died but me."
Several names followed the mysterious message, and on the reverse side it read: "Got all of the gold we could carry our ponys all got by the Indians I hav lost my gun and nothing to eat and indians hunting me."
Increased publicity has also aroused debates as to whether or not the history of the Thoen Stone is fact or fiction. The fact that Louis Thoen was a skilled stone cutter has raised suspicion that he may have etched the words himself. Believers of the legend argue that the names on the stone can be traced back in history and that the date and location described on the stone are historically accurate.
Hoax or history, the legend persists.