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Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother

Chapter: 11 - 1955-1966 - Berg Family Camping Trips









The first family camping trip (Ca. 1955.) that involved tents, sleeping bags, and air mattresses was made to the Pigeon River area of Ontario, Canada.

Later (Ca. 1957-60) week long camping trips were made with the family to the Black Hills of South Dakota where again everyone lived in a tent and slept in sleeping bags and air mattresses.

The first trip to Custer Park in June of 1957 involved a stop enroute at Redfield, SD. Redfield was at a point just a little over half way to the Black Hills. (Fisher Grove State Park, James River, Redfield) Because we had never been to the Custer Park campground in the Black Hills before, we elected to take more time going out the first time.

We did not want to arrive late in the day at an unfamiliar location, try to find a suitable camp site, set up our tent and otherwise get organized for the night. Redfield is approximately 340 miles from our home in Fridley.


(June at campfire - Fisher Grove State Park, Redfield, SD, June 1957) 


Campsite, Redfield, SD 1957


The Custer Park Campground in the Black Hills is almost exactly 600 miles from Fridley. After our first year of becoming familiar with the Custer Park Campground and area, we would make the trip from Fridley to Custer Park in a single day.

It meant getting on the road a 5 AM in the morning and driving steady all day (Stopping only for gassing the car and bathroom breaks)  until we reached Custer Park about 5 PM in the afternoon.

We would stop along the way only for gas and bathroom breaks.  Of course a stop at the world famous "Wall Drug" became a necessity.

June would make lunch en-route (Salmon Salad Sandwiches) and we would eat while driving. Salmon Salad (Red Alaskan Salmon) is to this day one of Stan's favorite sandwiches and is made on Whole Wheat Bread. 

The camp site in Redfield the first year was at Fisher Grove State Park, on the James River just east of Redfield. It was just north of highway 212, the main route across South Dakota. The Berg car then was a 1953 Chevrolet...with a luggage rack on the top to help carry needed supplies

The Black Hills campgrounds were in Custer Park located just west of Rapid City, SD. The favorite campsite was at the base of a cliff. There was also a small creek running along the base of the cliff.

There was considerable excitement one evening when a mouse was discovered in one of the children’s sleeping bags.

Noon lunches were also frequently a loaf of fresh bread that June turned into salmon salad sandwiches. The family had their first taste of Buffalo burgers while in the Black Hills.


(June preparing, Sunday Chicken dinner for family June of 1958)  


Camp Site Custer Park 1958


In the above photo, June is wearing her high heeled shoes because it was the Lord's Day. June always dressed up on the Lord's day. June was also pregnant with Julie, so one could say that the entire family was present for June's Sunday Dinner..

The Berg car then was a 1957 Chevrolet Station Wagon...little did they then know, that the 1957 Chevrolets would later become "Collector's Items".

The Black Hills towns of Deadwood, Lead, Sturgis, Keystone, Hill City and Custer were all explored as well as Mount Rushmore National Monument. Dinosaur Park near Rapid City was also a favorite place to go. Even some short horse back rides wre involved when the family went to "Indian Point".

The family also explored the site of an old movie "War Bonnet." A complete early days fort had been built at the site for the movie.

All of the children in the family participated in the 1958 camping trip although Julie was unaware of it. June was in the 6th month of pregnancy with Julie at the time.

A day of fossil hunting was done in the nearby Bad Lands around Scenic. Fragments of the jawbones of Oreadons, Rhinoceroses, and Three Toed Horses were found. Complete fossilized small Turtles were also found.

The University of South Dakota identified the specimens for the family. The specimens were said to have come from the Oligocene Epoch of the Cenozoic Era dating back to 24 – 38 million years ago. 

Stan and the boys enjoyed the fossil hunting enough so that they wanted to return another year and spend a week doing nothing but  fossil hunting in the Bad Lands around the Scenic area. While June enjoyed a day of fossil hunting she could not work up any enthusiam for spending a week doing this.

When Stan and the boys returned a year or two later, June elected to stay home with the girls and do their own thing for that week.

Stan, Dave and Dan had a successful week camping and fossil hunting  in the Badlands. (1959-1960) They returned home with the station wagon loaded with fossils. (Although fossil hunting was permitted at that time, currently Federal Law prohibits the removal of fossils.) 

 (Family seated at table having Chicken Dinner - June 1958)


Custer park


The above photo is similar to the one above it, except that June is now seated at the Picnic table and also having lunch. Stan was the photographer in both photos and is so in most or all of the photos in this story.

June's Dad (Grandpa Henry) and her Mother (Grandma Haldis) accompanied the family on one of the Black Hills camping trips in June 1958. June can recall seeing her Dad shaving in the morning and using a mirror fastened to a tree. (See photo below)

Family camping eventually later evolved away from tents and sleeping bags to a small rented cabin.

This was also the mode of a later family vacation spent in the Copper Harbor area of Lake Superior in upper Michigan.

The final family trip to the Black Hills was in July of 1966. June, Stan and the family had just moved into their new home at 6025 Gardena Lane in Fridley. The previous home on Washington Street and been badly damaged in the 1965 Fridley Tornado's.

As David and Dan were then entering college, it was decided that this would be the family's last week together in the Black Hills and the Custer Park area of South Dakota.

The years that the family spent together enjoying this beautiful part of South Dakota would leave many lasting memories. 

This final week of the family in the Black Hills again was one in which lodging was obtained at a motel with many of the family meals at the local restaurants.

Julie later, when age 7, recalled the wild but docile donkeys that strayed near the winding hilly roads. They would come up to the cars and stick their heads into the open windows looking for food.

Susan (age 12) recalls feeding some of the wild donkeys from the family’s bag of "Bismarck's".

It was also common to see Mountain Goats and Mountain Sheep along the roads. They were unafraid and could be approached by tourists stopping and getting out of their cars.

(June's father, Grandpa Henry shaving in the morning - 1958)



Custer Park 1958




(June feeding a Mountain Goat - Custer Park - June 1957)


june and a mountain Goar 1957