The Journey Museum

"Pap" Madison Cabin

When: February 27, 2012 through February 27, 2020
Where: Journey Museum

The "Pap" Madison Cabin has a new home at the Journey Museum.










Looking north from Main Street, the "Pap" Madison Cabin is #11 in the diagram above.  Today the location is east of 5th Street along the railroad tracks near the Abby Feed building.  This spring, the cabin will be moved to the Journey Museum from its current location at the west end of Halley Park.  It is fitting that the cabin will be moved to the Journey since in 1928 it contained objects from the Minnilusa Historical Association's collection and was Rapid City's first museum.



The "Pap" Madison cabin is and has been for quite some time, the oldest known structure in Rapid City.  Rufus or "Pap" Madison built the cabin at the corner of Fifth and Rapid Streets (the center of original six-block town site).  Madison came to the area in late 1875 or early 1876 and was present when the town site was laid out on 2/25/1876.  The Lakota in the area regularly raided the settlement and in one such raid killed Madison's dog and demolished his wagon.  By August the raids had increased, resulting in the loss of considerable stock, other property and settlers lives.  On the 25th all but 19 of the 200 settlers left for Ft. Pierre. The 19 that stayed, including Pap and town founder John Brennan, built a blockhouse for protection just west of Madison's cabin.  After the initial conflict of the late seventies, Pap and Henry Bliss located a claim of 160 acres southwest of the original town site and began farming.  Hap sold his farm in 1889 and in 1892 moved to Everett, WA.  John Brennan acquired the cabin and the lot on which it stood from Pap he would later pass it on to his wife.


The Fortnightly club focused its attention on the cabin in 1926, intending to convert it from an "eyesore" to a point of pride for the community and memorial to the city's founding and "the old days".  The well known club (represented by Alice Gossage) went before the City Commissioners and obtained approval to move the cabin to the city-owned Halley Park.  Mrs. John Brennan donated the cabin to the city.  The Lion's Club then stepped in and spearheaded the project to move the cabin.  It arrived in Halley Park later that year, badly dilapidated and neglected owing to its use as a barn. Among other repairs, it immediately required a roof as it was practically without one.  It was refurbished by a volunteer that "understood the construction of log cabins" using materials donated by local hardware stores and was described at the time as "a complete model of the early days, shake roof, homemade door with latchstring fastening, flat limestone fireplace (the original did not have a fireplace) and flagstone walk.  R.B. Hughes, teacher, historian, writer, entrepreneur and editor among other occupations and avocations wrote the inscription memorialized in a plaque at the cabins base:


I was built in the olden golden days,

when this was an unknown land:

My timbers were hewn by a pioneer,

with his rifle near at hand.

I stand as a relic of 'seventy-six,

our nation's centennial year,

That all may see as they enter the hills

The home of a pioneer.



The cabin was used as a museum for many years by the Historical Association but increased vandalism made it necessary to remove the valuable artifacts and furnishings.  These items are now in the Minnilusa Collection and on display in the Journey Museum. The Association continued to work for another building in Halley Park to house an historical museum and by 1938 had succeeded in getting the parks other structure built as a WPA project with private support.  This building, with several additions, housed both the Minnilusa and Sioux Indian Museum Collections side-by side up until the construction of the Journey Museum.  This building is now in use as the Administrative Offices for the Rapid City Parks and Recreaton Department.


The cabin was again renovated in 1990 by the Boy Scouts of Troop 55 under the supervision of David Hanson in fulfillment of his project requirement for the rank of Eagle Scout.  Materials were provided by the Rapid City Parks Department with historical assistance by Minnilusa's Bob Preszler and Fern Crouch.