Our History

Hill City traces its origins back to 1876, emerging as a mining camp and becoming the second town established in the Black Hills. Initially known as Hillyo, it consisted of a modest collection of log cabins. However, when rumors of gold deposits near Deadwood Gulch surfaced, drawing the majority of Hill City's population in pursuit of fortune, only one man, Joseph McClure, along with his faithful dog, chose to remain behind. Legend has it that Hill City was spared from abandonment by this solitary pair. Despite the exodus, Hill City persevered and eventually thrived.

The 1885 Steakhouse & Saloon occupies a place of historical significance within this narrative. Erected by German immigrant Camillo Von Woehrmann in 1885, this building holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously used commercial hand-hewn log structure in South Dakota, earning it a spot on the National Register. Originally serving as a saloon and boarding house, it later became the site for the publication of the Harney Peak Mining News, a weekly newspaper established by Von Woehrmann in 1890 and running for over three decades. Despite enduring two devastating fires that ravaged much of the town, the building stood firm, surviving an attempt to pull it down as a firebreak during a blaze in 1891.

Over the years, the building housed various businesses including Hallsted's Garage, White's Auto Repair, Mel's Fly Shop, Wolf's Western Traders, and Hill City Mercantile, each contributing to the community's vibrant history. Today, as the 1885 Steakhouse & Saloon occupies this historic space at the intersection of McGregor and Main Street, it honors the legacy established over 138 years ago. Situated in the heart of the Black Hills, this establishment embodies the enduring spirit of Hill City.

As guests step into our corner of the world, they're invited to admire the craftsmanship of the hand-hewn logs adorning the main dining area's walls. These walls, if they could speak, would undoubtedly share tales of bygone eras. It's our mission to continue crafting stories that will echo through the decades, preserving the rich history of Hill City and the historic Von Woehrmann building for generations to come. Much of the historical information referenced here can be found in "Hill City Then and Now" by Ed Gerken.