Tucked away right off the main drag of Custer SD is a converted Pacer mining warehouse called the Custer Beacon. When you go, here are some things to know about this unique eatery, pub, and event venue.
For so many places in South Dakota, our history is everything, and the Custer Beacon in Custer SD is no different. In 1970, Charles Oswald, a Minneapolis-based businessman, invested in and became the head manager of the Pacer Mining Company in Custer SD. He managed the company for 40 years, and in the process, fell in love with Custer’s small-town charm and hospitality. He made certain to bring his family to Custer every chance he got, and they also grew to love the little town. When the railroad, which had been Custer’s main source of commerce transportation through the 90s, became obsolete, Charles moved the Pacer Mining operation outside of Custer, leaving several buildings, and most importantly, a warehouse, vacant. The railway that once serviced Custer SD became South Dakota’s famous Mickelson Trail. And in 2018, plans began to transform the old Pacer warehouse into what is now the Custer Beacon.
Converting any structure from its original purpose to an entirely new one can be daunting, and according to Louis Umbarger, one of the Beacon’s co-owners, that was certainly the case for them. They accomplished the renovation in record time, however, and between Louis, his brother Charley, and their mother Julie, they were able to maintain the rustic, open feel of an old mining and railroad warehouse while making the venue functional and inviting. They operate a full-service kitchen and offer a generous variety of yummy bites and entrees, including burgers and off-the-wall options like Buffalo Lettuce Wraps and Bahn Mi. They also offer various craft beers and wine to whet your whistle while you’re enjoying your meal. With dining available both in and outside, you get the best of both worlds – the beautiful scenery of Custer when the weather is warm, or the comfort of indoor eating when the Dakota winds are blustery.
The Black Hills are chock full of talented musicians, and the Custer Beacon actively works to keep their entertainment schedule full and diverse. With the Becaon’s state-of-the-art full performance PA and light show, all the musicians have to do is sound check and begin their sets. The Beacon’s stage has hosted everything: country bands, reggae groups, comedians, murder mysteries, Christmas shows. Their venue is uniquely set up to handle almost any kind of event, as well, whether it’s a wedding, a corporate meeting, or a family reunion.
Custer SD is situated directly in the heart of the Black Hills. Surrounded by beloved South Dakota parks and monuments, it is not a hard thing to spend several days taking in the beauty of the area. The Custer Beacon is the only eatery visible from the 109 miles of the Mickelson Trail; it is also just minutes from Crazy Horse Monument, Custer State Park, and Mount Rushmore National Monument. After a long day of site-seeing, you should make your way to the Custer Beacon. Sit down, order a delicious meal, have a brew, and listen to some awesome South Dakota music. You won’t be disappointed!
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