FROM THE NORTH END: TWO GREGORY COUNTY LANDMARKS THAT HAVE ALWAYS INTRIGUED THIS WRITER ARE “RED ROCK” AND “THE CAMEL’S BACK”…..Both landmarks overlook Lake Francis Case. Red Rock is located north of Highway 44 perhaps six or seven miles and the Camel’s Back is located south of Highway 44 approximately the same distance.
RED ROCK is located on the north corner of the NW ¼ of Section Three in Turney Township on the original Watson Ham homestead. The “rock” consists mostly of red shale and is believed to have been caused by an upheaval of the earth’s crust or possibly a deposit from the “glacial drift” which formed the Missouri River. Whatever…it is certainly a picturesque Gregory County landmark that is not easily observed from land. Missouri River fishermen use Red Rock as a bit of a destination as in, “Where’d you catch your fish?” The answer often being, “Red Rock!”
The area east of Red Rock is where the infamous Gregory County legend, Jack Sully, used a bit of ingenuity when he was almost caught rebranding cattle. Sully ran to the river, pushed a fallen log into the water and floated it down river to the vicinity of the now Platte/Winner bridge, exiting the Missouri on the east side, escaping pursuing lawmen. He also allegedly dressed as a woman on one occasion to fool lawmen.
The towering rock, with its striking color enhanced by sunlight, was used as a landmark by Native Americans, steamboats, and anyone journeying up or down the Missouri. The rock itself contained the names of assorted travelers who had etched their names in the soft rock. Legend has it that Lewis and Clark engraved their names in the edifice. Over time, its size and magnificence has diminished due to erosion, but it still remains an awesome site particularly when viewed from the river on a bright sunny day.
THE CAMEL’S BACK is located about the same distance SOUTH of Highway 44 and can be viewed from Highway 1806 on the corner where the highway makes a ninety degree turn south just north of the John Malm house that is located along the highway. Looking north/northeast the “two humps” are readily visible.
In addition to being a landmark the Camel’s Back is also known as the discovery site of a ferocious dinosaur known as Mosasauras-meaning “terrible lizard.” The lizard had dagger like teeth and long razor sharp curved claws. An intact skeleton can be found at the South Dakota School of Mines Museum in
Rapid City. In addition to the fossilized Mosausarous hundreds of arrowheads, stone implements etc. have been found on the Camel’s Back.
The Camel’s Back is west and adjacent to the former town of Day. The trail from Day through Soper’s Draw led along the north side of the Camel’s Back through the homestead of Frank Mullen just north of Mr. Mullen’s “Mansion”-now the “Gray House Inn” located along Highway 18 on the east side of Gregory. The two landmarks remain another facet of Gregory County history.
Author Jack Broome, originally published in the Burke Gazette on February 5, 2020.