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Vintage Postcards - Cosmos in South Dakota - 1950s Photos including Restaurant Menu

Updated on September 22, 2016

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 taken 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 sojourn to South Dakota from the State of Iowa where they lived at the time.

None of these postcards have posted copyrights so I thought that it would be fun to let readers see these 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 has entered the Cosmos!

Vintage Postcard of The Cosmos in South Dakota

Vintage Postcard of The Cosmos in South Dakota
Vintage Postcard of The Cosmos in South Dakota | Source


Notice the level placed on the pieces of wood showing that everything should be exactly plumb and even? Then who can explain the differences in height when the men exchange places? These unexplainable things and more can be found at the tourist attraction in the Black Hills of South Dakota named the Cosmos. The postcard above shows this anomaly beautifully.

Cosmos vintage postcard

Cosmos vintage postcard
Cosmos vintage postcard | Source

Cosmos Postcards

On the back of each of the four collected Cosmos postcards is written the identical information:


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."

Cosmos pamphlet front

Cosmos pamphlet front
Cosmos pamphlet front | Source

Back of Cosmos pamphlet

Back of Cosmos pamphlet
Back of Cosmos pamphlet | Source

Cosmos vintage postcard

Cosmos vintage postcard
Cosmos vintage postcard | Source

Cosmos vintage poscard

Cosmos vintage poscard
Cosmos vintage poscard | Source

It was fun finding these souvenirs that had been kept tucked away with photos and other mementos of their trip to the Black Hills since my family had also experienced much of the same when we went there on vacation also in the 1950s.

Written on the inside of this pamphlet is the following:



The area known as the Cosmos is the strangest location in the entire Black Hills. Here the world is different, topsey 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.


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.


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.

Mailing Address:


Keystone, South Dakota"

( In the 1950s zip codes were not yet added on to addresses. I am certain that over the years the pamphlets have probably changed a bit...but the enticement to visit this most unusual place still undoubtedly draws many visitors each year.)

Video taken at The Cosmos

South Dakota Attractions

When our families visited South Dakota in the 1950s, the literal 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 and the senses are fooled by seemingly in-congruent things that make no sense in the ordinary balls running uphill.

As one can tell from the postcard photos above, 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.

Most people want to visit South Dakota to see sites like Mount Rushmore, Devil's Tower, The Corn Palace, free roaming buffalo, The Black Hills, Custer State Park and other attractions.

But...if just might wish to add The Cosmos to that list of attractions as both of our families did many years ago.

2 - Spooks selling Gas old ad, Rapid City, SD


Two Spooks selling Gas


Do you remember your family collecting those state or famous landmark stickers and attaching them to your cars?

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Other mementos...

This TWO SPOOKS slip of paper was included in the mementos from the Black Hill's trip taken by my future mother-in-law and husband and my husband's uncle ( our marriage to take place some sixteen years later ) and reading the back of it brought back some memories of my own.


Few "free" maps are given out these days!

And the "stickers"...ah yes!

Back in those days when one entered a State, the rest stop areas or in this case...a gas station, stickers were given away that could be attached to car windows or bumpers indicating that one had visited that State.

Stickers could also be acquired for other attractions like those at Mount Rushmore.

In effect...if 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 to see how many stickers one could accumulate on one's car.

People generally kept their cars longer in those days, and people vacationed using their autos more then as opposed to airplane travel.

My family added several new State stickers to our station wagon when making that trek to South Dakota that year and we were all excited to see my Dad add each and every new sticker 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.

Additional Vintage Postcards...

(Swiss Chalets Motel) Vintage postcard from Rapid City, SD


On the back of the vintage postcard above and below the following was written:


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.

(Swiss Chalets Motel) Back of vintage postcard, Rapid City, SD


The Chuck Wagon - Vintage Postcard, Rapid City, SD


The reverse of this postcard above reads...


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. 

Cahill's Corner - Vintage postcard from Kimball, SD


On the back of the postcard above can be read the following:

Our Motto

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


Cafe 16 - Vintage postcard from Murdo, SD


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 

The Frontier Museum - Vintage postcard from Sylvan Lake, SD


Written on the back of the one above reads the following...


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. 

Old Candlelight souvenir menu from Rapid City, SD

Front of the Candlelight souvenir menu
Front of the Candlelight souvenir menu | Source

Souvenir Menu

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...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 an eye opener for those who were too young to have ever experienced food pricing such as this.

The Candlelight souvenir menu from the mid-1950s with prices listed - Rapid City, SD

The Candlelight souvenir menu from the mid-1950s.  Look at those food prices!
The Candlelight souvenir menu from the mid-1950s. Look at those food prices! | Source

Mid-1950's photo taken in South Dakota

That boy in the photo became my husband 16 years later!
That boy in the photo became my husband 16 years later! | Source

Have you visted South Dakota and been to The Cosmos?

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Looking at the old faded Kodacolor picture of that kid sitting on the fence while on vacation in South Dakota...whoever would have known that we were to meet years later and become husband and wife!

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 back in the same era.

Rapid City, South Dakota

A markerRapid City, South Dakota -
Rapid City, SD, USA
get directions

Did you like learning about the Cosmos? If so, please take time to rate this hub. Thank you!!!

5 out of 5 stars from 3 ratings of The Cosmos in South Dakota

© 2010 Peggy Woods


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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Howdy Roby,

      The Cosmos was undoubtedly not a main attraction for people visiting South Dakota compared to Mount Rushmore & other famous places...but interesting none-the-less in a quirky kind of way. Your .50 cents an hour wage would have bought a hamburger and fries plus a drink back in those days or more than 1 gallon of gas. When I used to babysit, I earned 35 cents an hour. Of course that kind of money had more purchasing power compared to today. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      Howdy Roby 4 years ago

      Stationed at Rapid City AFB 1951 to 1953, never heard of the Cosmos. Worked in Munitions at base Worked part time at night at the King Tut Cafe .50 cents an hour

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Cheryl,

      The Cosmos is just one attraction in the beautiful state of South Dakota filled with natural and man-made attractions. Hope you get to travel there someday. Thanks for your comment.

    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 5 years ago from Houston, TX

      Love your collection of vintage postcards. Great hub on South Dakota and the Black Hills. The Cosmos is a place I would love to visit. Great photos, information and videos.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi CassyLu1981,

      Nice to hear from someone who actually lives in the area. The Cosmos is a fascinating area! So glad that you also enjoyed these old postcards...and how about that menu and the prices! Wow! Thanks for your comment and the share.

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