Mountain View Cemetery aka Keystone Cemetery is a little cemetery in Keystone, South Dakota that has an amazing view of Mount Rushmore. In fact, it is the only Cemetery in the world with a view of Mount Rushmore. It was also on our Black Hills Bucket List!
Bonus points for its boundaries shaping it to look like a coffin from an aerial view. Yes folks, Mountain View Cemetery is shaped like one of those old-time coffins.
I don’t remember exactly how I found out about it, as it doesn’t seem to be well-known as far as “things to do” in the area. Then again I am constantly looking for the weird, odd, and less traveled “attractions” anytime we road trip.
Of course, it was amazing to join the rat race and do all the other stuff like visit Mount Rushmore, pan for gold, and travel Iron Mountain Road. But we LOVE finding unique spots and things to see/do that others may not know about.
About Mountain View Cemetery
Originally part of Harney National Forest, it was deeded to the Modern Woodman of America. In 1900, Patrick F. Hayes, a member of the Modern Woodmen of American, laid out the boundaries of the cemetery. Catherine Hayes, the 18-month-old daughter of Patrick Hayes, became the first person interred in the cemetery. Catherine was originally buried at Harney Cemetery which was abandoned the same year, three miles downstream.
The boundaries of the cemetery from above look like an old coffin, however, this was not an ingenious plan of Mr. Hayes but simply a configuration that happened by chance and determined by the natural terrain.
It is rumored that many of the workers who died during the construction of Mount Rushmore are buried here, when in fact there were NO deaths during the construction. However, many of the workers who worked on Mount Rushmore and later died are in fact buried here.
From the front plaque
Local historians have a field day with the cemetery. David N. Swanzey is interred here. Swanzey was a friend of Charles Rushmore and Gutzon Borglum and was involved with the naming of Mount Rushmore and married Carrie Ingalls of “Little House on the Prairie.”
One of the most impressive markers is that of “Wild Horse” Harry Hardin. He posed as a bearded prospector with his donkey, “Sugar Babe” and his makeup character was used to advertise Landstrom’s Black Hills gold jewelry. He told the visitors that he was a survivor of the Custer Massacre. Unfortunately, his marker indicates he was born in 1896, twenty years after General George Armstrong Custer was killed at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
David N. Swanzey’s son, Harold David “Davey” “Red” Swanzey was a worker at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
Hauntings at Mountain View Cemetery
It is reported that there have been several hauntings at the cemetery. Imagine that, ghosts at a cemetery! Who would have thought!? Anyway, yes I do believe in ghosts, but unfortunately, I did not catch any on camera or video, nor did I have any paranormal experiences. Then again, I was pretty preoccupied looking at all the old graves and the incredible view of Mount Rushmore.
People have reported ghostly images, orbs in photos and videos, and ghostly faces in photos. Others who were visiting at night paying respects have reported seeing people who look like workers roaming the cemetery, however, the workers were dressed in old period clothing and are transparent.
If you have ever experienced a haunting at the cemetery, tell us your story by leaving a comment below!
Getting to Mountain View Cemetery aka Keystone Cemetery
From 16A & Reed Street in Keystone, head South on Hwy 16A (Iron Mountain Rd) to Cemetery Rd (aka Old Cemetery Rd) and turn left. Follow the road (which if memory serves me correctly turns into a dirt/gravel road) until you get to the road that runs through the cemetery (it will be on the left-hand side before Greyhound Gulch Rd.)
Drive to the end and park by the flag pole for the best view of Mount Rushmore!
Of course, if you plan to visit, please remember this is the final resting place for many and should be treated with the utmost respect. Don’t litter, walk on graves, and keep voices low!