In 1874, the U.S. Army discovered gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The resulting gold rush required a stage line that could carry gold from the remote mining town of Deadwood, Dakota Territory, to Cheyenne, a commercial center on the Union Pacific Railroad.
The U.S. Military established a single-company infantry post called Fort Hat Creek in 1875. Three stage stations have stood near the post. The first was built in 1876 but burned later the same year. A long log building that housed a telegraph station, post office, blacksmith shop, road house, stages and store replaced the first station after it burned. In the early 1880s. the two-story, hip-roof stage station that stands today was erected and the second stage station was torn down.
The Hat Creek station was located at the southern edge of the most dangerous section of the Cheyenne-Deadwood Stage Route. Near the station, travelers frequently encountered Indians defending the Black Hills territory and road agents robbing the stagecoaches. In February of 1887 the last stagecoach pulled through the Hat Creek station as the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad replaced the stage line. Today, the Hat Creek Stage Station is the last station standing on the Cheyenne-Deadwood Stage Route.
Side bar on left
Hat Creek Stage Station is actually located
on Sage Creek. Tradition states that a troop of soldiers from Fort Laramie intended to locate a military outpost on Hat Creek in western Nebraska. Mistaking Sage Creek for Hat Creek, the soldiers established a post and gave it the name of their intended destination. The name stuck and was given to the stage station as well.