Thoen Stone

J is 80 years old and grew up in Spearfish, SD. He told me about a local legend from the Black Hills, a region in South Dakota.

“The Thoen Stone story was always a part of the local folklore in and around the Black Hills of SD, where I spent part of my youth. A sandstone rock with names of some deceased gold prospectors carved or scraped into the surface of the sandstone was supposedly found on a hill called Lookout Mountain. In addition to the names, a story of hidden gold was part of the message on the rock. It was carved by one of the prospectors named Ezra Kind who was hiding from Native Americans who were hunting for him and the gold, which he claimed he had hidden on Lookout Mountain or in the general area. This story created a “search for the gold” mentality with the kids in the area. When my brother and I were growing up, we, along with friends, would spend many summer days searching for the hidden gold while hiking or riding horses. BTW we never found it nor has anyone else!”

This legend is a local legend of the area in which these people grew up. This legend like many others is a legend of gold to be found (similar to El Dorado). It’s interesting how most people probably know it’s just a legend since many have spent so much time and energy searching, but somehow the legend is still alive and the folklore persists. This is an example of childhood folklore that is exclusive to the Black Hills, as it is almost like a shared experience and a part of growing up in this region. The hope and possibility for gold remains.