Murdo, South Dakota 1880 Town

This town was developed by cousins of mine, Clarence and Richard Hullinger. Nice job, Cousins.

Murdo’s 1880 Town

Movie producers started an Old West main street on Clarence Hullinger's land in the 1970s. The movie failed, but today the 1880 Town is a blockbuster.

Lots of us have attics crammed full of objects that outlived their usefulness — or at least their original usefulness. We don’t discard the stuff because we’ve learned it gains another function: serving as a tangible link to our past.

Located 22 miles west of Murdo on I-90, 1880 Town is South Dakota’s attic. It’s not a crammed attic, though, thanks to its setting on the vast prairie. You gaze down Main Street to the horizon beyond, not to adjacent neighborhoods and tall fast food signs. Much of the stuff here is big: whole buildings hauled in from Quinn, Dixon, Tea, Gregory, Gettysburg, and countless other living or forgotten towns, including long-submerged Oahe Mission (under Lake Oahe).

So while the town site isn’t authentic to history, its structures are. That sets it apart from most other recreated Old West towns. You feel the authenticity in weathered wood textures, and you smell it. “These buildings stood through the big dust storms of the 1930s,” observes the town’s only year-round resident, Scott Key. “You’re probably still smelling some of that dust.”
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