1880 Town

Walk down Main Street of 1880 TOWN and explore more than 30 buildings authentically furnished with thousands of relics. Enjoy the rolling terrain of a sprawling homestead and envision life on the prairie. While at 1880 TOWN, you can also view memorabilia from the late Casey Tibbs, a champion rodeo bronc rider, and many props that were used in filming the movie “Dances with Wolves.”

’50s Train Diner

This 1950s Santa Fe Train originally ran from Chicago to California before coming to rest at the 1880 TOWN in 1982. While in the train, you can experience what the passengers must have felt like while eating in the railroad dining car! We offer daily breakfast and lunch specials as well as homemade cream pies and other desserts! If you’re not hungry, just walk through and check out the 1950s memorabilia. We also offer travel information, brochures and clean restrooms in the Milwaukee Depot!

The train is open 7 a.m.–3 p.m. daily, Memorial Day through Labor Day.

History of 1880 TOWN

When Richard Hullinger bought 14 acres at Exit 170 back in 1969, he had no plans for an attraction. In 1972, a gas station was built at this location along with forming an idea of an Old West attraction. Later, an additional 80 acres was purchased.

About that time, a movie company came to a small town nearby to film an 1880s-era movie. The main street set was constructed from old buildings, and a number of Indian relics and antiques were borrowed from Clarence Hullinger, Richard’s father. Winter set in, and the filming was abandoned. The movie company returned home, giving the main street set to Clarence for the use of his artifacts. The movie set was moved to his 80 acres, and the 1880 TOWN was born!

The founding of 1880 TOWN was followed by years of collecting. The result is an authentic 1880-to-1920-era town from buildings to contents. Clarence and Richard have kept historical value on an equal balance with public appeal, choosing buildings that are not only interesting to look at but also are also historically correct for an early South Dakota town. The displays and buildings range from Indian relics from the 1870s to the 14-sided barn built in 1919.

The tour of the town begins here. The barn boasts an automated hay and manure handling system. It took three days and thousands of dollars to move the barn the 45 miles from its original location south of Draper, South Dakota. In the barn, you will see fine antique buggies, toys, stalls with horses in them and a working, turn-of-the-century Coinola, a saloon piano from Deadwood.

From the barn, the whole town lies before you in a beautiful panoramic view! The first building on the north side is the Vanishing Prairie Museum. The museum was built to house the more valuable collections, many from the General Custer period of the late 1800s. Items displayed include a pair of boots and an old army saddlebag from the Custer battlefield at Little Bighorn that were found at an Indian campsite; parade helmets worn by U.S. Cavalry Indian Scouts with the crossed arrow insignia; Indian dolls and arrowheads; a complete authentic cowboy outfit; an array of photographs; and selected interiors of fine Dakota homes. The collection also includes items associated with Buffalo Bill and a tribute to the late Casey Tibbs, nine-time World Champion Rodeo Cowboy.

The Dakota Hotel was moved from Draper, South Dakota. Built in 1910, it still carries the scars made by cowboys’ spurs on the staircase. The Gardel & Walker Livery Barn holds a variety of early engines and two wagons from the Indian war era. On an open lot next to the livery is the antique machinery display.

St. Stephan’s Church, built in 1915, was moved from Dixon, South Dakota, with everything intact, from the stained glass windows to the bell (which, along with the school and fire bell, you are free to ring).

The C&N Depot, Express Agency and Telegraph Office were relocated from Gettysburg, South Dakota. This place is filled with railroad equipment right down to a piece of wood with “Tex K.T.” carved by the legendary “King Tramp” in 1927.

The town hall, which came from Belvidere, was renovated in 1984 and the film, “Love for the Land,” can be seen throughout the day. Step inside the back door to see the Mayor’s Office. Next door is the lumberyard and pioneer home.

The one-room schoolhouse will bring back many memories for those who were lucky enough to attend one. Ring the bell and step inside to see the ink-well desks, textbooks, reciting bench and roll-up maps. Up front by the blackboard sits the huge stove that never did heat the back of the room and the view through the windows is still the same beautiful prairie that lured the attention from many young students’ studies.

About a quarter of a mile east of the town is a homestead complete with windmill, corrals, barn, house and, of course, outhouse.

This history of the 1880 TOWN is just a snapshot of what you’ll see and experience while visiting our attraction. We are constantly updating and adding items and buildings to the collection so make sure and plan to visit us soon!

For more information, check out 1880 Town.

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