Tri-State Museum, Belle Fourche, SD

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Tri-State Museum, Belle Fourche, SD

Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center to be open on Saturdays beginning April 2

Beginning April 2, the Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on Sundays and Mondays. The change is being made in response to increased interest in the museum’s permanent collections and changing exhibits.

The hours change does not impact Family Fun Day, which will still be held on the 3rd Sunday afternoon of each month.

“We had previously been open only Monday through Friday,” explained Director Kristi Thielen. “With the addition of changing exhibits and broader advertising and marketing, we are reaching people further out in the Tri-State area and in the Central and Southern Black Hills. It’s difficult for those people to get here during the week, but many people like to take road trips to our area on Saturdays.”

Thielen also noted that the tourist season will begin before long and many travelers looking for  maps and visitor information are already coming through Belle Fourche. “We’re here to be responsive to the public, and these new hours help us accomplish that.”

The Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center’s current changing exhibits include “What Number Please? A History of Telephones,” and “Rock On! Rocks and Minerals.” A late spring mini exhibit on coffee will be installed in April; summer exhibits “Belly Up to the Bar: A History of Saloons,” and a mini exhibit on “Fish and Fish Hatcheries” will be installed in June and July.

After Memorial Day, the museum and visitor center shifts to summer hours which are Monday-Saturday, 9 to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. For further information about the Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center, call 605-723-1200.

For further information about this and upcoming events
at the Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center
please contact Director Kristi Thielen at 605-723-1200.

New mini-exhibit entitled “But first  . . . coffee.”

The exhibit explores the history of coffee including its discovery,  the rise of coffeehouses, the “Coffee Wars” of the 19th and 21st century, the history of Arbuckles’, known as the “coffee that won the west” because of its popularity with cowboys, and coffeehouses in the Belle Fourche area, such as the Green Bean Coffeehouse.

In addition to storyboards, the exhibit includes a wide variety of photos and artifacts from the museum’s permanent collections, including antique coffee pots and coffee grinders.


The title that rides above the exhibit – and the images of the steaming cups of coffee that flank it – were made out of coffee beans.

Specialty coffeehouse coffee will be served to those visitors who stop in to see the exhibit and request a cup to drink as they do so.

The title for the exhibit was selected because coffee is an early morning staple for so many people and because this exhibit is the first thing you see on entering the Museum and Visitor Center.

The exhibit was designed by Assistant Director Jean Maher, who also did photo curation; Collections Archivist Nicole Carrier did artifact curation and coffee bean artwork; storyboards were researched and written by Director Kristi Thielen.

The exhibit will be in place until June 10th. There is no admission to visit the Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center. May hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 to 4. Memorial Day to Labor Day hours are Monday-Saturday, 9 to 5 and Sunday, 1 to 4.

May First Saturday Brunch is “A Crewdawg’s Life”
May 7th - 10:00am

The Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center’s First Saturday Brunch for May 7th is entitled “A Crewdawg’s Life.” It will be presented by Maj. Bob Liebman (retired) of the EAFB Heritage Foundation Board and details Liebman’s life on a B-1 bomber aircrew.

The EAFB Heritage Foundation Board was established in 1982, to support preservation of several historic airplanes displayed at Ellsworth Air Force. This effort led to the creation of the SD Air & Space Museum at Ellsworth.

The brunch at 10 a.m. is $5 per person or free with museum membership; the program at 10:30 is free to all. For information about this and future programming at the Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center, please call 605-723-1200.

“What Number, Please? The History of Telephones”
Exhibit Available until April 29th

The exhibit tells the story of the invention of the telephone, how telephony changed through the 20th century and its social as well as technological impact. The history of the local telephone company will also be related. Phones of various vintages, plus items related to telephony will be included in the exhibit, as well as storyboards and photos.

The exhibit will be in place through April 29th.

Photo: The crank and candlestick phones are from the Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center’s collection; more modern phones belong to Kristi Thielen. The “Public Telephone” sign is from the collection of Jerry Ager. At far right: a phone used in the Homestake Mine, during its operation.  Telephone books are for Belle Fourche in 1911, 1966, 1971.

Here's the opening panel to our new "What Number, Please? The History of Telephones" exhibit. Photos, artifacts - including lots of phones - a colorful touchscreen quiz and storyboards.
Some of the latter include great "telephone" memories from area residents about the telephone and chickens, party line rings, how the telephone made a marriage and a hilarious call a Belle Fourche man attempted to soon-to-be Princess Grace.

Children’s dress-up trunk for interactive play

The Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center now offers a trunk of period-style clothing for child visitors to try on. The trunk includes prairie dresses, skirts and blouses for girls; vests, shirts and knickers for boys. There are also several hats.  Items in the trunk will be changed every few months to provide variety.

The dress-up trunk is being added as a way to provide more hands-on experiences for young visitors to the Tri-State Museum.

The public is invited to stop in at the museum on Friday to see the display; the museum’s hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center hires new Collections Archivist

PHOTO: New Collections Archivist Nicole Carrier poses next to the doctor’s buggy in the Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center.

The Tri-State Museum and Visitor has expanded its staff to include a Collections Archivist. Nicole Carrier will be tasked with managing the digital archives of the museum’s collections as well as overseeing the contents of the permanent collections and providing artifacts for the mini and temporary exhibits. Carrier will also assist with programming, events and some Visitor Center tasks, including those handled for the Black Hills Roundup.

She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, where she was living prior to Belle Fourche. Carrier moved here three months ago and is enthusiastically learning all she can about her new “home town.”

For further information about the Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center, please call 605-723-1200.



415 5th Avenue
Call for more info 723-1200


The Tri-State Museum is a 4,000 square foot, city-owned and operated, historical museum based out of beautiful Belle Fourche, South Dakota. The museum is located on US-85 in the Northern Black Hills. We are a short drive to major attractions such as Deadwood, Rapid City, Spearfish Canyon, Rocky Point State Park/Orman Dam, Devils Tower, and Mt. Rushmore.

Our museum focuses on the early pioneer, rodeo, and old west history of the Tri-State region of Western South Dakota, Eastern Wyoming and Southeast Montana. The museum houses over 5,000 artifacts, rodeo memorabilia, historical records, antiques, collectibles, fossils, and other items. These include the original 1876 Johnny Spaulding Cabin, artifacts from the early cattle days, artifacts from the Belle Fourche Roundup Rodeo (largest rodeo in South Dakota), and much, much more.

We work closely with the South Dakota State Historical Society, The Adam's Museum and other local organizations such as The Butte County Historical Society, Questers, Lions Club, Golden Hills Antique Club, Northern Hills Retired Teachers, and others.

The museum is very active in the region, helping to promote and host many local activities, educational programs and special events.



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