Higgins Gulch Road in the northern Black Hills is home to a number of terrifying events, both historic and contemporary.
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‘The Place’, a nondescript spot several miles up the gulch, causes even cynics to get goose bumps and chills.
Professors and historians alike all acknowledge that the northern Black Hills, while undeniably beautiful, were also home to a number of historic atrocities. While the United States maltreatment of the Lakota is well-documented, other facets of murder and ghosts in the northern Black Hills have escaped the history books.
Here are a few small, personal stories of Higgins Gulch:
- Higgins Gulch Road winds up the gulch to the trail-head of a mountain called Crow Peak. Crow Peak’s name is derived from a massacre of Crow by the rival Lakota. While this battle is thinly documented, it’s said that several thousand Crow were killed in Higgins Gulch. A former professor of mine swears up and down that immediately after a ‘Sweat‘ he witnessed Crow figures lined standing in the Gulch, staring at the mountain. Anecdotal evidence, sure, but this particular professor teaches very logical subjects and is not one bit superstitious. I believe him.
- Even in broad daylight on warm fall days, Higgins Gulch creates a powerful and undeniable ‘vibe.’ On multiple occasions tourists, friends, family, and strangers have all remarked, “this place gives me the chills – I feel very uncomfortable here.” Again, more anecdotal evidence, but the feeling is undeniable and almost universally experienced.
- Near The Place several friends of mine and I witnessed the escape of killers leaving the scene of the crime. We were out in the Hills late on a spring evening. While hiking the rim rock, we noticed headlights driving down a mountain logging road. Logging roads are generally very rugged and not suited for civilian vehicles. We high-tailed it out of the gulch before the headlights could catch us. We pulled to the side of the road and hid while the vehicle passed. Turns out the vehicle we saw matched killers vehicle precisely.
- The Place itself seems to be an epicenter of odd happenings. At the same mile-marker resides a former KKK ‘KonKlave.’ Long-time locals will often tell stories of ‘crimes’ (derive what you will from the word ‘crime’) committed near The Place.
- This brings us to The Grave at The Place. We discovered The Grave in the fall of 1999 while a large group of friends played hide-and-seek at night in the mountains. The Grave rests 100 meters or so up the slope of a large hill. To access ‘The Grave’ one must park in a small, rutted pull-out off of a gravel road, walk across a field, traverse a creek, then hike the side of a mountain. It’s a beautiful location, but difficult to access. The Grave is a mound of rocks the size and shape of a small human body. The area around The Grave constantly smells of rot. Several friends of mine and I have visited The Grave on several occasions and each time flowers are clearly visible. Some times the flowers are very old and withered, other occasions the flowers look as fresh as the day. Combined with Higgins Gulch’s sordid and well-documented history banal, logical, and earthly explanations of The Grave at The Place simply do not suffice.
These are a few brief stories about Higgins Gulch and The Place. Believe me or scoff; it’s your choice. Perhaps some who have experienced The Place will also chime in with their thoughts and experiences. Maybe they’ll choose to remain silent as is some times best with stories like these.
Or, maybe some day you will visit the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota, drive north, take a left at Higgins Gulch Road and experience The Place for yourself. When you do, you’ll feel exactly how we feel about The Place: Terrified.
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