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This building houses the Tri-State Museum and the Center of the Nation Visitor Center. The museum explores the history of the surrounding region, which includes western South Dakota, eastern Wyoming, and southeastern Montana. The museum, which is owned and operated by the city of Belle Fourche, features exhibits that focus on a variety of topics including pioneer life, the Old West, rodeos, the growth and development of the city, and local military history. Visitors will see numerous items and artifacts that reflect these topics such as photographs, pioneer-era clothing, military uniforms and memorabilia. Additionally, the museum grounds feature two landmarks: the historic 1876 Spaulding cabin and the Geographic Center of the Nation Monument. Belle Fourche lies in the area where the center of the country is located (within the margin of error). The monument is made of polished granite in the shape of a compass and is surrounded by the flags of all 50 states and the national flags of the U.S. and Canada.


  • The Johnny Spaulding Cabin was built in 1876 by its namesake.
  • The Tri-State Museum & Center of the Nation Visitor Center are located in the same building.

The museum was established in 1955. The idea for it originated with the wife of man named Roy Williams, who had recently passed away in Hammond, Montana. At the time of his death, Williams had a western collection that was worth $1,000. Realizing the value of the collection, Mrs. Williams approached Belle Fourche businessmen and city and officials. As a result, they agreed to establish the museum. It was originally going to be located in a historic home but that was impractical so the city built a simple one-story building, which was expanded in 1964 and 1972. The museum's current building was erected in 2004.

The cabin is named after hunter, guide, and scout Jonny Spaulding, who arrived in Belle Fourche in 1876 at the onset of the state's gold rush. Later, he served in the in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War and eventually moved to California. Residents lived in the cabin until the late 1930s. Its last owner donated it to the museum in 1960. It was moved to its current location in 2007. Inside, visitors will see period items including furniture and items used in daily life.

"History." Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center. Accessed November 16, 2019. https://www.thetristatemuseum.com/history.

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Tri-State Museum & Center of the Nation Visitor Center

Tri-State Museum & Center of the Nation Visitor Center