Gold was discovered in the Black Hills in August, 1874. By the spring of 1876, the Army had stopped enforcing a treaty which reserved the hills for the Sioux Indians. Miners soon began to pour into the gold regions.
From 1875 to 1881, the 267-mile trail north from Sidney carried the bulk of the traffic to the mining towns of Deadwood and Custer. The Union Pacific Railroad brought men and supplies into Sidney. North from Sidney moved stage coaches, freight wagons drawn by oxen or mules, herds of cattle, and riders on horseback. During 1878-1879 alone, over 22 million pounds of freight moved over the Sidney-Black Hills Trail. Gold shipments, worth up to $200,000 each, moved south from the Black Hills to Sidney and the railroad.
The trail's only major obstacle was the North Platte River. In the spring of 1876, a 2000-foot wooden toll-bridge, known as Clarke's Bridge, was constructed near the present town of Bridgeport.
In October, 1880, the railroad reached Pierre, Dakota Territory, and most of the traffic to the Black Hills was diverted away from Sidney.
Sidney Chamber of Commerce
Historical Land Mark Council
US 30, west of Sidney