Tucked in among the trees alongside Rapid Creek, the Hisega Adventure Lodge has held its place in the Black Hills for over 110 years. Owners Tara and Mike Flanery are committed to carrying on the Lodge’s tradition of hosting guests from around the world, but are excited to put their own spin on things as well. What does that mean? It means continuing the legacy of comfort and relaxation at the lodge for those who long to spend their days adventuring in the Black Hills.
In August 1908 Doane Robinson — the state historian who first had the idea for Mount Rushmore — led a group of young people from Pierre, South Dakota to the Black Hills. During their stay, they took the Rapid City, Black Hills & Western Railroad, better known as the Crouch Line, to this area and set up camp. They loved their stay so much, that the group took the first initials of six young women on that trip — Helen, Ida, Sade, Ethel, Grace and Ada — and named the spot Hisega.
The group loved the spot and felt completely refreshed by their retreat in the mountains. Overcome with enthusiasm for the location, Robinson convinced a group of individuals from Pierre to purchase some land in the area and build a lodge. One year later, the Pierre Lodge was built. Other visitors followed suit, adding cabins and tent camps. Hisega became so popular that the Crouch Line adopted the name when it established the Hisega station.
The Crouch Line, the locally built narrow gauge railroad that brought Robinson and his group of Pierre travelers to Hisega, carried cargo and passengers from Rapid City to Mystic. Because it followed such a twisting, winding, and scenic route through the Black Hills, it became a tourist attraction in and of itself. Locals and sightseeing travelers alike enjoyed riding the Crouch Line and seeing the beauty of the region pass before their eyes. On its route the train passed directly in front of the lodge, which became a popular stop along the way. This made it easy for travelers to pay the Pierre Lodge a visit, bringing guests from both near and far who enjoyed hiking, fishing, and relaxing in the cool air near the creek.
The Pierre group help the property until 1929, then Carl and Jessie Sanders leased and later purchased the property. They renamed the lodge The Triangle I, and operated it as a popular tourist destination for those seeking a western experience. Lodging, meals, marshmallow roasts, horseback riding, and dancing were all part of the fun for the groups who stayed a week and toured the Black Hills.
In 1969, local entrepreneur and Black Hills promoter Hoadley Dean purchased the lodge from the Sanders as a private resort. This South Dakota Hall-of-Famer and his family hosted scores of guests at what was then called the H-Bar-D Lodge. Later, Hoadley’s son Kip ran the lodge as a traditional bed & breakfast.
Becoming Hisega Lodge
Cheryl Rudel followed the Deans as proprietor, and she brought several improvements, great color and many private parties to the lodge. It was Cheryl who changed the name of the the property to Hisega Lodge, a fitting tribute to the lodge’s history and legacy within this historic community. Carol and Kenn Duncan purchased the lodge in 2008 and made many needed improvements for the next eight years.
The Next Step into Adventure
The history of Hisega Adventure Lodge is intertwined with the birth and evolution of Black Hills tourism and outdoor adventure. Hisega has now become a destination for those seeking adventure in the Black Hills, whether it be in hiking boots or on a mountain bike. Though times have changed, the tradition of hospitality remains as Tara and Mike Flanery take their turn welcoming guests to the oldest operating lodge in the Black Hills.