Powerhouse Park was the site of the Burlington Powerhouse that functioned for a decade from 1902 to 1911 to provide power for the interurban trolley owned and operated by Burlington Railroad between the City of Deadwood and the City of Lead. Demolition of the plant started in July of 1911, but the smoke stack remained standing until the early 1920s. While it only operated for a short time, the site offers context to an important moment in development of mining, urbanization, and electrification in the Black Hills. It now stands at the northern terminus of the George S. Mickelson Trail, the 110 mile long world class bicycling trail that winds through the hills.
After a detailed investigation into the rich history of the site, we developed a park plan to allow for “Preservation without Restoration”. The goal is to preserve the site without attempting a full restoration but protecting what remains, including a portion of the 130’ smoke stack. A sample of the smokestack section was recreated by a local historical mason to give visitors an idea of its size. At least one of the smokestack bricks has fingertip imprints from a child worker at the brickyard where the bricks were made, giving another view into our history. A system of floating decks extends the boardwalk and allows for views of the ruins, the creek, and the surroundings as well as providing locations for interpretive signs without negatively impacting the ruins below. Access is provided to the creek for adventurers and fishermen, while picnic shelters provide a destination for visitors. A bridge is planned across the creek soon as well.