World’s Largest Smokey Bear is Just Five Hours from Billings
We found out last August that Smokey Bear has a Twitter account (seriously though, who doesn't?). While writing a story about his 76th birthday, we also found out that there is no "the" in Smokey Bear. You may have been saying his name wrong your entire life. Don't feel bad, we were too.
Old Smokey shared a tweet this week, recognizing the completion of the world's largest Smokey Bear statue, located in Hill City, South Dakota.
News station WBNS 10TV shared this Youtube video of the massive, 30 x 25 foot wooden statue, and it looks pretty awesome.
Why is Hill City's Smokey Bear connection so special?
Smokey Bear has a unique relationship with the small, mountain town of Hill City, as covered by KELOLAND News. During a dangerous forest fire in 1939, 25 local students helped battle the blaze. The Hill City High School history page provides some fascinating details about the fire, which was rapidly jumping roads and fire breaks and threatening the community, noting,
One of the first crews to respond was a group of 25 school boys from Hill City. The crew included the entire basketball squad, one eighth grader, and several boys who had recently attended or graduated.
As recognition for their efforts fighting the fire, the the US Forest Service granted the school exclusive use of Smokey Bear as a school mascot. Their school colors are the same as Smokey Bears uniform and Hill City is the ONLY school in the United States that has permission to hold it's graduation ceremony each year at Mount Rushmore. How cool is that?
Plan a trip to Hill City, SD
The former mining town (first gold, then tin) is now primarily a tourist stop, located on the "back side" of Mount Rushmore. The Hill City visitor page notes,
In recent history, the Hill City community has continued to evolve as an archeological, paleontological, and geological hub for Black Hills exploration and discovery.
The most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever found was located in the area. You can drive there from Billings in about 5 hours by car, but why rush? Take your time and enjoy the beauty and everything there is to see and do in the Black Hills.
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