Mysterious Cosmos in South Dakota: See 1950s Postcards and Mementos, Including a Restaurant Menu
South Dakota Vintage Postcards and Other Souvenirs
Going through some old family photos the other day, I came across these vintage postcards of the Cosmos and additional items saved from a vacation trip to South Dakota in the 1950s.
This collection came from souvenirs my mother-in-law had saved when she took her son (who would become my future husband many years later) and her brother on a family vacation. Her brother was eighteen years younger than she was and only seven years older than her son. Thus she had two young men accompanying her on that vacation to South Dakota from the State of Iowa where they lived back then.
None of these postcards have posted copyrights, so I thought it would be fun to let readers see them as well as a menu from that day and time.
My family had also taken a family trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota and also saw the tourist attraction called the Cosmos. It is a topsy turvy gravity-defying world once one enters the Cosmos!
Notice the level placed on the pieces of wood, showing that everything should be precisely plumb and even? Then who can explain the differences in height when the men exchange places?
These unexplainable things and more are at the tourist attraction in the Black Hills of South Dakota named the Cosmos. The postcard above shows this anomaly beautifully.
It was fun to find these souvenirs tucked away with photos and other mementos of their trip to the Black Hills since my family had experienced much of the same when we went there on vacation in the 1950s.
When our families visited South Dakota in the 1950s, the real feeling of visiting the Cosmos was one of the many remaining memories that we took away from vacationing in that scenic State. One truthfully feels the effects of gravity in the most peculiar way. The senses are fooled by seemingly incongruent things that make no sense in the ordinary world like balls running uphill.
As one can tell from the postcard photos, people do seem to lean in odd postures compared to looking at the walls, windows, chairs, and usual orienting features of what one finds in a house.
On the back of each of the three collected Cosmos postcards is written the same information:
"COSMOS OF THE BLACK HILLS
Located six miles from Mt. Rushmore, The COSMOS is the most unique Tourist Attraction in the entire Hills. Bring your camera for the most unusual pictures of your trip.
U.S. Highway 16
18 Miles South of Rapid City
Espe Printing Company, Rapid City, S.D."
Written on the inside of a pamphlet shown below is the following:
"YOU FEEL CRAZY AT THE COSMOS
WHAT IS THE COSMOS
The area known as the Cosmos is the strangest location in the entire Black Hills. Here the world is different, topsy-turvey, with nothing in its normal position, including yourselves. The laws of nature seem to have gone completely berserk, and especially in the mystery house itself where even the plumb bob does not know what is straight up and down. But to feel the pressure of the area against you is the most unusual feature of all, a physical experience which you will never forget.
WHERE IS THE COSMOS
The Cosmos of the Black Hills is located in a secluded valley practically in the center of the Hills. Because of its central location it is easily reached as it is only six miles from Mt. Rushmore itself, and just a short distance off of highway sixteen between Mt. Rushmore and Rapid City. The map on the back of this pamphlet will locate the Cosmos exactly.
WHEN IS THE COSMOS OPEN
The Cosmos of the Black Hills is open during the tourist season from early morning until dusk. During that time a courteous guide will be on hand to conduct tours through the area, with a separate tour starting every fifteen minutes. Children under twelve are admitted free.
The unusual variations in gravity, height, and perspective may be easily photographed with your camera. We invite you to bring it along for the strangest pictures of your entire trip.
Our attraction is guaranteed; if you are not satisfied that the Cosmos is one of the most unusual attractions you have ever seen, we will refund the price of admission.
COSMOS OF THE BLACK HILLS
Keystone, South Dakota"
In the 1950s, zip codes did not yet exist on addresses. I am confident that the pamphlets have probably changed a bit over the years, but the enticement to visit this most unusual place still undoubtedly draws many visitors each year.
Most people want to visit South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore, Devil's Tower, The Corn Palace, free-roaming buffalo, The Black Hills, Custer State Park, and other attractions.
One might wish to add The Cosmos to that list of attractions if in the area.
This TWO SPOOKS slip of paper was in the souvenirs from the Black Hill's trip taken by my future mother-in-law and husband, and reading the back of it brought back some memories of my own.
FREE MAPS & STICKERS
Few free maps are available these days!
As to the stickers, back in those days when one entered a state the rest stop areas or a gas station, labels were given away that could be attached to car windows or bumpers indicating that one had visited that State. There were stickers for other attractions like those at Mount Rushmore. In effect, it was free advertising for the attractions and also for the states.
It became a source of pride to add another state sticker to one's automobile and see how many stickers could accumulate on one's car. People generally kept their cars longer in those days, and people vacationed using their autos more than airplane travel.
My family added several new state stickers to our station wagon when making that trek to South Dakota that year. We were all excited to see my Dad add every new one to adorn our car. We had quite a few state stickers amassed and would notice other cars who had seemingly traveled more than us when viewing the numbers collected on their vehicles. There was always another vacation in the planning stages in which we could acquire more of those prized souvenirs of our travels.
Do you remember your family collecting those state or famous landmark stickers and attaching them to your cars?
Pictured below are some vintage postcards saved from that long-ago trip to South Dakota.
On the back of the postcards above the following was written:
"SWISS CHALETS MOTEL (AAA)
On Canyon Lake Drive and scenic Rim Rock Hiway. A haven under the trees, in an alpine setting. Delightfully cool and restful. Must be seen to be appreciated.
Mr. and Mrs. G. A. Harms, Prop's.
Rapid City, South Dakota Phone 1818"
Espe Printing Co., Rapid City, S. D.
The reverse of this postcard above reads as follows:
"THE CHUCK WAGON
This replica of the old covered wagon is located at "The Chuck Wagon" cafe on Hiway 14-79 in Rapid City, So. Dak., where Ranch Style Food is served in an atmosphere of western hospitality.
Recommended by Duncan Hines
ART JONES and ROD PRICE, Proprietors
"ESPEPRINT" by Espe Printing Co., Rapid City, S. D."
On the back of the postcard above can be read the following:
The Best for Convenience and Comfort At a Price You Can Afford to Pay
Cahill's Corner - On Highway U.S. 16 - Kimball, South Dakota
Made in U.S.A. by E. C. Kropp Co., Milwaukee, Wis.---ABB"
Posted on the back of the postcard above:
Murdo, South Dakota
Western South Dakota's Finest Restaurant Located at the head of the old Texas Cattle Trail of the late 1800's.
Made in U.SlAl by E.C. Kropp Co., Milwaukee, Wis.---DDL
This Is An ECKCO-CHROME Reproduction"
Written on the back of the postcard above is the following:
"THE FRONTIER MUSEUM
Sylvan Lake, S. D.
Over 1000 things of the Frontier Days --- when Wild Bill, Calamity Jane, General Custer and a host of adventurers rode the Gold Trails into the Black Hills."
The Candlelight was a restaurant that my future mother-in-law and entourage frequented more than once while in Rapid City, South Dakota. My husband tells me that he remembers his mother having the same meal more than once. She enjoyed eating the mountain trout, two of them for $2.25. She loved trout, and obviously, it was well prepared and fresh at The Candlelight.
Take a look at the menu prices! It will bring back memories for some readers who are old enough to remember those days and be eye-openers for those who were too young to have ever experienced similar food pricing.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at these vintage postcards regarding the Cosmos and more from South Dakota in the 1950s. It brought back great memories for me, and it is also fun that my husband and I got to experience similar trips in the same era.
Have you visted South Dakota and been to The Cosmos?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Peggy Woods