History & Acquisition
Lookout Mountain was described and photographed by the Newton Jenny Expedition in 1875 when it was named
Joe's Peak after a prominent character named California Joe. The peak played a role in early settlement, and it is argued whether or not Native Americans or early settlers used the peak as a
lookout, resulting in the modern name.
Sandstone & The Theon Stone
In 1887 the Thoen Stone was found on this mountain. It is a local lore claiming gold was found in the Black Hills prior to the 1874 documented discovery. Its authenticity is still debated today. The Thoen Stone reads:
Came to these Hills in 1833, seven of us, De LaCompte, Ezra Kind, G.W. Wood, T. Brown, R. Kent, W King, Indian Crow. All dead but me, Ezra Kind. Killed by Ind beyond the high hill. Got all the gold we could carry. Our ponys all got by Indians. Have lost my gun and nothing to eat and Indians hunting me.
Many of the sandstone blocks used to construct buildings in Spearfish are said to have been mined from Lookout Mountain.
Black Hills State University
H& the Mountaintop
The Black Hills State University
H is located on the property and has been a part of the area for many years. The top of Lookout Mountain provides a great location for a variety of communication towers.
Purchase by the Homestake Mining Company
Lookout Mountain was purchased by the Homestake Mining Company in September 1940. Homestake allowed unrestricted public access and it became a common recreational site for residents and tourists. The interstate was constructed along the west base in 1971.
Park as Private Property
In 1994, a private party purchased the property with plans for residential development, which would have ended public access to the mountain that had existed since 1940.
City of Spearfish Purchase
In May of 2000, the City of Spearfish, with assistance from the Lookout Mountain Preservation Trust was able to purchase 652.85 acres of what is known as the Schmidt Parcel. Then an additional 103.76 acres to the north, known as the Meier Parcel was donated to the City of Spearfish by the Meier and Della Vecchia families.
A Conservation Easement exists on the property with the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation. A Conservation Easement is designed to preserve and protect in perpetuity and to enhance and restore the significant relatively natural habitat for plants and wildlife and natural ecosystems.
The City of Spearfish under direction of the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation maintains Lookout Mountain. The written Conservation Easement document dictates what can and cannot be done on the property.
From the trails that have been established, grazing of cattle, pine beetle infestation, weed control, really anything done on Lookout Mountain must first have a written request from the City and submit it for approval from the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation.