Thunder Butte

October 09, 2005

Coal Springs and Glad Valley

In 1909, Coal Springs had a population of fifteen, a post office, and three businesses—a restaurant, grocery, and general merchandise store. Located in Perkins County, Coal Springs was about 14 miles from Thunder Butte as the crow flies, and considerably longer by road. By 1916, the town also had a bank, the Citizens State Bank. Coal Springs was about 40 miles south of Lemmon, which, at 1,500+ residents, was the nearest municipality of any significant size within sixty miles of Thunder Butte.

After the town of Brayton blew away in a windstorm sometime after 1921, Coal Springs also became the nearest post office for many of the families living around the Thunder Butte. According to John Crowley, “The Coal Springs store, which was our post office address for all of the time I lived around Thunder Butte, was built and operated by Sherill Cazar. They had two children that I have lost track of.” The Northwestern Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1916 lists the grocery’s proprietor as “A. W. Cazar,” so the Cazars must have been running the Coal Springs store for several years before John Crowley was born.

The Glad Valley store, about seven miles northeast of Thunder Butte, “… was operated by the Elfrink family the last I recall,” says John Crowley. “This was the store where my parents did most of their casual grocery shopping, and took their cream and eggs to sell. They went to church on the hill above the store on Sunday, and chances are that they danced at the open air pavilion on Saturday nights. The pavilion was just a dance floor constructed out in the open air near the store.”

Glad Valley, in an earlier incarnation, was known as Pickerville, when it was established about 1910 by William Picker. The then proprietor of the grocery store moved the establishment to his own claim in 1914, and Glad Valley became the name of the settlement. The Elfrink General Store operated in Glad Valley until 1956, when it was purchased by the Wittes, who ran it until about 1982.
Mike Crowley Sunday, October 09, 2005


Mike, how many people actually still live in the area where you write about??
Not many people live around Thunder Butte. Probably, not many ever did. But, the heyday for migration into the area was probably back during the early 1910's, after some of the reservation land was opened up to white settlers. Today, there are about 2,658 people in Ziebach County, where Thunder Butte is, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Also, today, more than 72% of the people living in the area are Native Americans.
interesting, One day I would like to tour that area and take some photos. I live in Sioux Falls now and the north central part of the state is about the only part I have not been to yet.
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