Whitewood Creek cleanup to include trail extension, archaeological study

Phase 5 of the Whitewood Creek Improvement Project will stretch from 76 Drive to the Amish Furniture Store and also includes a three-quarter-mile path that will run parallel to Whitewood Creek in the same location. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — Although the Whitewood Creek cleanup is nearing the end of the trail, Phase 5 marks the beginning of a trail extension that will be preceded by an archaeological study this spring.

Monday, the Deadwood City Commission awarded the Phase 5 Whitewood Creek Improvement Project clean-up contract to Quinn’s Landscaping and Excavating in the amount of $69,995 to be paid from the parks budget.

Deadwood Public Works Director Bob Nelson, Jr., said the project runs from 76 Drive to the Amish Furniture Store.

“It includes removal of debris, trash, cleanup, and creation of a walking path. They’re going to make that out of wood chips from the trees,” Nelson said.

Commissioner Gary Todd asked if tree removal is additional cost.

Nelson said the bid includes unit prices should additional trees not included in the contract amount be discovered.

“Chances of us doing additional, we would have to come before you with a change order,” Nelson said.

Four other bids were received on the project: Donarski Lawncare & Landscaping, $89,889; Moss Rock Landscaping submitted an incomplete bid of $88,000; RCS Construction, $93,250; and Street Construction Co., $114,876.

Nelson said once the archaeological study is complete, the cleanup project would start right behind the field investigators.

“Our contractors will start right across from the First Gold (Gaming Resort) and they will work their way toward the slag pile, following the creek,” Nelson said. “We have a lot of down and dead debris trees. We have overgrowth, erosion problems, new storm sewer outfalls, so it’s primarily vegetation and we’re going to chip everything on this project instead of hauling it, and we’re going to make the walking trail out of the wood chips.”

The newly proposed trail is expected to go from 76 Drive, where the Whitewood Creek Trail currently ends, which is the entrance to the football field, and parallel Whitewood Creek down until it runs into the highway again, just before the Amish Furniture Store.

“It’s about three-quarters of a mile one way,” Nelson said.

The time frame for completion of the new trail is July 20.

“It’s not all summer long because we hope to allow people to be able to enjoy it for part of the summer or into the fall,” Nelson said. “This is going to be kind of a primitive walking trail, so it’s not like a traditional Mickelson eight-foot-wide. It’ll be four- to six-feet wide and it may have ups and downs, but then, inevitably, through BID 8 and some funding that they’re providing, it’s going to be interpretation, wayfinding, and then eventually, a full-blown aggregate eight-foot-wide trail that will go all the way down there and back, with creek access, as well, for fishing.”

Archaeology study

An ancillary approval in regard to the project, the commission also approved entering into agreement with the South Dakota State Archaeological Research Center for the fieldwork plan on the Whitewood Creek Improvement Project in an amount not to exceed $7,300, to be paid from 2021 Historic Preservation Archaeology line item.

Historic Preservation Officer Kevin Kuchenbecker said the approval is in regard to work on the proposed extension of the Whitewood Creek Trail, which will go from 76 Drive to Highway 14A.

“Which is to the bridge heading to Sturgis,” Kuchenbecker said. “And will map any archaeological features found along the way of early Deadwood, surface artifacts, and ensure that any cultural resources are either documented or avoided in the trail expansion.”

Kuchenbecker said he does expect there to be findings during the study.

“I know there are several surface deposits along there, some of them associated with a dump,” he said. “Other features include a foundation. It’s Deadwood, so yeah, we’ll probably find archaeological resources along the way.”

Kuchenbecker said the study will likely begin with a surface investigation, identifying any features that may be prevalent.

“It’s a pedestrian survey to begin with and anticipated not going beyond that, with just the identification of those features, and then recordation of anything that may be disturbed with the trail,” he added.

Now that the project is approved, beginning the study will depend on weather.

“Hopefully, this spring, depending on snow cover, obviously, for field work,” he said.

The last archaeological study in Deadwood was done by Four Points.

“It’s a requirement for any new construction or creating within the city,” Kuchenbecker said.

The last archaeological study done by the city was prior to the installation of one of the city’s most recent green spaces.

“The city completed our archaeological investigation and recordation with the Powerhouse Park, the spur off the Mickelson Trail by the trailhead,” Kuchenbecker said.

Nelson said there will likely be one or two more phases of the Whitewood Creek Improvement Project.

“From Deadwood Gulch Resort to the south city limits line at the Black Hills Inn and Suites,” Nelson said. “It just depends if we can do it all in one shot or if I have to split it into two.”

Nelson has been a proponent of the creek as a means of recreation and remains committed to seeing the entire clean-up project through.

“I can’t just leave these outlying areas untouched,” he said. “I want people to experience the entire waterway.”

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(1) comment


Does this cleanup include the waterway of Spring Creek (sometimes referred to as Diamond Springs). The city dump was part of this waterway until it was closed down (sometime in the late 1950's). It was stated that samples taken from Whitewood Creek by the EPA in the late 1980's showed stronger deposits of mercury, lead, cyanide, and other dangerous chemicals were found (once that creek flowed in just below the new visitor's center). I feel this potential problem should be considered within this project. I know the City of Deadwood owned the dump and all land on both sides of it until the early 1990's... then offered it to the highest sealed bid received at the court house. (And was no longer obligated to "clean up" the dump from that point on)?

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