Thursday 12, Mar 2015

Name that tunnel!

Doane Robinson Tunnel 630When the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway Naming Committee set out to name the tunnels in the Keystone-Custer State Park area, we’re guessing they never even considered names such as Sound Your Horn or Falling Rock.

Good thing. Their aim was to reduce, not increase, confusion over identifying the tunnels. There are seven tunnels, and it gets confusing -- especially if you are reporting an accident. That’s why the South Dakota Department of Transportation formed the committee.

All tunnelsThe tunnels -- carved from granite to create roads through the Black Hills while doing as little harm as possible to the scenic landscape -- have become scenic vistas in their own right. The tunnel that frames the Mount Rushmore carving is one of the most-photographed places in the Black Hills.

Here’s what they came up with:

NEEDLES HIGHWAY 

Iron Creek Tunnel -- It’s the first tunnel as you head west, and Iron Creek runs next to it.

Needles Eye Tunnel -- Right next to, well, the Needles Eye, the name seems to fit.

Hood Tunnel -- About 21/2 miles west of the Needles Eye, this tunnel apparently has already been named the Hood Tunnel, after the rock formation it runs through.

IRON MOUNTAIN ROAD

Doane Robinson Tunnel -- This is the first, and perhaps best-known of the Black Hills tunnels. It’s the first one you pass through heading from Keystone. And it’s the one that frames the Mount Rushmore carving.


C.C. Gideon Tunnel -- This one comes right after the Doane Robinson Tunnel, and the committee named it for the the man who designed, among other things, the State Game Lodge, the Pigtail Bridges. He and Sen. Peter Norbeck mapped out the Iron Creek Road.

Scovel Johnson Tunnel -- Who? OK, this tunnel, right after the Gideon Tunnel, was named for the man who built the Needles Highway. He also did survey work on the Iron Mountain Raod and contributed to the layout of Sylvan Lake.

KEYSTONE ROAD

Miner’s Gateway Tunnel -- This is the wide, three-lane tunnel that you pass through when driving into Keystone from Rapid City. Keystone was once one of the richest mining towns in the world, and this name is a tip of the hardhat to the men who worked those veins.

The names are not final, by the way, only proposed. If you’d like to comment, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by next Tuesday.