Everyone has their favorite spots in the Black Hills. Some may have one favorite and other may have many. The Badger Hole is one of my favorite spots. It’s far more obscure with less traffic than most spots in the Black Hills. It’s also one of the few spots where a home is the center of attention.
The Badger Hole is not an underground house. It actually has no relation to the fierce animal, the badger. Instead, it was the home of South Dakota’s Poet Laureate, Badger Clark. Badger Clark’s full name was Charles Badger Clark…but he preferred his middle name, which was actually a family name. He lived from January 1, 1883 until his death September 26, 1957.
In 1927, Badger Clark requested to lease a one-room cabin from the State Parks Commission. His request was granted and he began living in Custer State Park in the 12-foot by 18-foot cabin (216 square feet). Five years later, he asked for permission to build a larger cabin in the same area of Custer State Park. Again, his request was granted and he began construction on a larger four-room cabin. Construction was completed in 1937 and it was named The Badger Hole. 1937 was also the same year that Badger Clark was officially named South Dakota’s Poet Laureate by Governor Leslie Jenson.
The four-room cabin has a large porch and was much larger than the first cabin he lived in. Even though Badger Clark lived in solitude, he was also very social. He would sometimes the eight miles to Custer to visit with friends. His cabin was designed to provide an area to entertain guests.
His cabin was approximately 700 square feet with a stone fireplace in the living room. His living room included an entire wall of bookshelves. The cabin was built with all local materials including stone for the foundation and fireplace.
If you think you wish you would love to live in a unique custom cabin in Custer State Park, consider a few things about it. His cabin did not have plumbing or running water and it did not have electricity. Badger Clark wrote and read using kerosine lamps. He lived in the cabin until his death from lung cancer 20 years later.
The cabin sits only about a quarter mile away from Legion Lake. There is a hiking trail by the cabin that includes numerous signs that include some of his poetry and information about his life.
Badger Clark wrote many poems about the western life, shedding light on the beauty of the area. His poem, “The Cowboy’s Prayer” professed a simple life…and the poem became quite popular.
He was a gifted public speaker, having a great sense of humor while seeming very easy-going.
Badger Clark’s home is one of my favorite places in the Black Hills. I even have a print of a painting of The Badger Hole by the very talented artist, Jon Crane. I like to go to the Badger Hole and sit on the porch and write, then walk around the areas as Badger Clark likely did—venturing up to Legion Lake and enjoying all the scenery and tranquility of the area.
The Badger Hole is open to the public during the summer months but the hiking trail is always open as is his porch. Since his passing, electricity has been added to the home…but Badger Clark would have been pleased to know that there’s still no plumbing.
If you are looking for your dream home that has plumbing and electricity, give me a call at (605) 593-3759 and I will gladly help you.