GARRISON Twenty-four years ago, a group from Garrison created the Custer Mine Interpretive Center in celebration of the state's 100th birthday.
Today, travelers along North Dakota Highway 37, on their way to Garrison, will still see a piece of the history of the area.
The Custer Mine Overlook marks the former site of the Truax-Taer Mine, an old strip mining area owned by Consolidation Coal. The mine was in operaton between 1947 and 1964. In 1950, the mine's most productive year, it produced some 370,530 tons of coal.
The site includes a number of kiosks that provide history about the mine as well as the history of the surrounding Fort Totten Trail, which started as a wagon trail that connected Fort Stevenson and Fort Totten. The 125-mile trail dates back to 1867 and was in constant use up until 1872, when railroads became more prevelent. At one point, a portion of the trail near the Dryden Range became known as "The Land of Strange Disappearances" when several mail carriers along the route were attacked and killed.
The Custer Mine became the the Custer Wildlife Management Area in 1989 when the mine's owners deeded the land to the North Dakota Game & Fish Department.
Today, the mine overlook, also known as the Custer Mine Wildlife Management Area, is home to a diversity of wildlife, trout fishing pond, an interpretive site, and multiple outdoor opportunities.