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The Badger Hole
The Badger Hole is located in Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is in a rural setting surrounded by ponderosa pine, approximately one-and-one-half miles east of Legion Lake.
The building is a three-room, rustic, Craftsman-style cabin. It was designed and constructed by poet and author Charles Badger Clark Jr. The wood-framed building sits on a raised stone foundation and the walls are clad with wood shingles set in a ribbon-coursing. A full-width porch is located the front; the porch roof, with its exposed rafter tails, is supported by square posts set atop massive stone piers. An exterior stone chimney is located on the side of the cabin. All of the stone was gathered from the Black Hills, including the white feldspar with which Clark built the fireplace. The interior consists of the living area, which doubled as his writing space and library, a small bedroom, and a kitchen/dining room. There was no electricity or running water when Clark lived in the cabin, although both have been added since that time.
Clark was born in Albion, Iowa, in 1883 and moved with his parents to the Dakota Territory, where his father was a preacher in Huron, Mitchell, Deadwood, and Hot Springs. After dropping out of Dakota Wesleyan College, Clark traveled to Cuba, where he contracted tuberculosis. He then moved to Arizona for his recovery. In 1910 Clark returned to the Black Hills and leased a cabin site in Custer State Park. He built a small cabin in 1924 to live in while he built the Badger Hole, which was completed in 1937, the same year he was named South Dakota’s first poet laureate (although he preferred the term “poet lariat”) in 1937. During his career, Clark published several books, including collections of his poetry and novels. Among his more widely published poems were “A Cowboy Prayer” and “Ridin.” He lived and worked in the Badger Hole until his death in September 1957.
The cabin still contains his furnishings, including his writing desk, rocking chairs, and bed. It currently serves as a small museum and is open seasonally to the public.
Custer County Historical Society, “Badger Hole,” Custer County, South Dakota. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, 1973. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
Lee, Shebby. “The Original Badger Hole.” South Dakota Magazine. Accessed April 14, 2020. http://southdakotamagazine.com.
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