- Associated Press - Monday, February 27, 2017

ST. ONGE, S.D. (AP) - About five miles off Interstate 90, down S.D. Highway 34 between St. Onge and Whitewood, sits a pristine piece of South Dakota homesteading history - a 115-year-old barn that recently received a grant to ensure it lasts for generations to come.

Driving down the winding dirt road that leads up to the place feels like moving back in time, the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/2mcEJDq ) reported. The historic Anderson-Ridley Ranch, perfectly ensconced between rolling hills to the east and the pine-covered foothills of the Black Hills to the west, is so well preserved, only a few items hint that it is present day.

The stillness and quiet is indicative of being much farther from civilization than it actually is and lends to the feeling of being transported to a bygone era. Even at the tail end of winter, before spring has bathed the land in color, the beauty of the homestead is awe-inspiring and the enormous barn is the crown jewel of the pastoral masterpiece that is the Anderson-Ridley property.

The walls are made of sandstone quarried right there on the ranch, and the doors of heavy, thick wood are covered in layers of peeling paint. Windows and skylights allow the sun’s rays to illuminate the interior and reveal that, despite its old age, it is still a working building and even has a resident barn cat.

As you walk inside and through at least four rooms, the history of the barn is palpable. Rasmus Anderson, a Danish immigrant who settled near St. Onge in 1883, and his crew’s enduring handiwork combined techniques of Old World builders with that of turn-of-the-century style. Besides the sandstone and wood, they used stucco and weatherboard.

The rooms are distinct and include pens for livestock, some now utilized for storage, and a huge loft. It is clear the generations of Anderson descendants that have worked inside have left their own marks behind as well.

And in fact, Anderson’s descendants are still there. The current owner, Kim Ridley, was married to Anderson’s great-grandchild, Andrew Ridley, who passed away in 2012. Several other members of the Ridley family still reside nearby.

But it is still a working ranch and barn, and modern equipment reminds visitors of this. A red Dodge flatbed truck sits outside, loaded up with hay and a big, green John Deere tractor is parked inside.

In an attempt to ensure the barn remains a standing testament to South Dakota’s history and to the grit and hard work it took for Anderson to build it and homestead the land, the South Dakota State Historical Society recently provided a grant to shore up the western feeder barn.

Through the Deadwood Fund grant program, the barn was awarded $3,437 in matching grant funds to help repoint the mortar on the barn. Funding for this program comes from Deadwood gaming revenue earmarked by state law for historic preservation projects statewide.

“This program is designed to encourage restoration or rehabilitation of historic properties and is one more way we can promote and protect our history and culture,” said Jay Vogt, director of the State Historical Society, which announced the grants this week.

Last year, the society awarded $108,204 among 11 projects, which had matching funds of $291,301 coming to a total investment of $399,505 in public and private funds.

The barn, finished in 1902, along with other buildings on the Anderson-Ridley Ranch, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in January 2015.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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