PointofInterestRoadSigns.com - South Dakota - Firesteel Historic Marker


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Location of sign - Firesteel, South Dakota


Photo taken June 2009


 Firesteel Historic Marker in South Dakota Firesteel Historic Marker in South Dakota (reverse)

Photos courtesy of Jimmy Wayne


Text of sign:



The town of Firesteel takes its name from nearby Firesteel Creek.  First known as "Firesteel Station", it started in May 1910 with an

influx of settlers drawn by rumors an entire section (square mile) to become a government townsite.  Many who had drawn low

lottery numbers located in this area, but in fact, no townsite was reserved.  


Early businesses were built on the section line between the quarters of W.E. Coats and C. A. Colden.  Coats was appointed 

postmaster in 1911.  A lot sale was held on September 4, 1912 with the high lot going for $250.00.

Firesteel is best known as the only coal mining community in South Dakota.  W. Benoist and A. Traversie made the first discovery

in 1907 or 1908 after finding coal dust in a prairie dog town on the NW 1/4 - 7 - 17 - 23. Coal was mined commercially from 

1911 to 1968.  Unfair freight rates kept use local until after WW1 when lower rates opened wider markets.  Mechanized stripping

started in 1929 when Firesteel Coal Company employed a dragline.  In 1933 the State Relief Agency operated a state owned mine

3/4 mile southwest of the town to provide fuel for the needy.  They closed March 17, 1934, when officials found they could buy

coal cheaper than mining it.


Continued on other side)





(Continued from other side)


L.P. Runkel formed Rungel Coal in 1935. Runkel's peak year was May 1941 - April 1942 when 51,743 tons were sold.  During

peak demand as many as 30 truckers were paid 35 cents a ton for loading and hauling from pits to railcars.  Ben Dollarhide bought

Runkel out in 1947 and formed Dewey County Coal Company. Dollarhide purchased a tracked shovel for filling trucks in the large

pit and a D-8 Cat to help strip overburden.  He built a large tipple (machine for loading freight) to speed loading.  A record 552 

tons went through the tipple in one day.  Spoil banks are visible west of town.  The bucket displayed is from the last dragline, the



Firesteel was also a bustling trade center through the teens, 1920's and 1930's.  It boasted a bank, Holts flour mill, many businesses

70 miles of rural telephone lines and a light plant providing 24 hour service.  Stockyards next to the rail line made Firesteel a major

livestock shipping point.  As coal mining became mechanized and less manual labor was required, Firesteel began to decline.  Fires

claimed many businesses and in the 1960's the mine and the school both closed.  Today most area residents are engaged in 

ranching and farming. 


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