“There is so much history in this area; New Study Sheds Light on Fort Meade Firing Range

It’s safe to say that the Fort Meade Old Rifle Range in Sturgis is history.

STURGIS, SD – In parts of the Black Hills there are hidden gems or sites that may have their own history.

It’s safe to say that the Fort Meade Old Rifle Range in Sturgis falls into this category and has its own history.

Located across from the Veterans Administration Medical Center, the wall stands approximately ten feet high on more than 180 acres.

The range is preserved under a grant that the Bear Butte Creek Historic Preservation Council received from Deadwood Historic Preservation.

“The wall itself is kind of the focal point, but they’ve done everything from small arms (training) to machine guns to artillery there, and so there’s a lot going on and “we’re digging in it ‘as they say,’ said Ross Lamphere, president of the Bear Butte Creek Historic Preservation Council.

Six history experts and archaeologists recently completed a multi-year study, documenting more than 660 marks on the range wall by soldiers who served in the 4th Cavalry Regiment.

Archaeologists believe the range wall was built before World War I, but was mainly used between 1927 and 1943, before World War II.

But Lamphere says the story doesn’t end at the wall. Above all, he says that there are a multitude of Native American stories that they hope to discover and protect.

“The goal is to first preserve it so we can protect it, and then educate the public about what it is and you know, look at this history of this area,” Lamphere said.

In June, a team of archaeologists and students from the University of South Dakota will visit a nearby site called Soap Suds Row, where Lamphere says civilian laundresses worked to wash soldiers’ uniforms.

Continuing work in the area, a testament to its history and to those who were here before.

“The site we are on was a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp at the time. Then it was converted into a prisoner of war camp during World War II, and there are still remnants of it,” Lamphere said. “There is so much history in this area.”

Lamphere says there is no timeline on when the range preservation stages will be completed at this time.

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