History of the Alpine Inn
The town of Hill City, first known as Hillyo and the second town in
the Black Hills, originated in conjunction with the 1876 discovery of placer gold deposits in Spring Creek. Its population fluctuated in regards to the severity of the “gold fever” inflicted on its residents, and as the gold rush moved north to Deadwood, rumor had it that Hill City was populated by “one man and a dog”. In 1883, the discovery of tin attracted enough English capital to organize the “Harney Peak Tin Mining, Milling, and Manufacturing Company”. Even though the mill was a short-lived disappointment, the company spent millions of unseen investor’s dollars boosting the town’s economy for nearly ten years and making sure that management lived in the lap of luxury.
The company built the Harney Peak Hotel for use by its mining executives. The hotel was a favorite spot for Sunday diners and rendezvous for mining, timbering, and railroad men active in the area. The town was nicknamed “one Mile of Hell” because it had “a church on each end, with one mile of hell in between”. This was a reference to the more than fifteen bars on Main Street and their associated rowdiness and gunfights. The mining company ceased operations in 1892. Surviving two major fires, the hotel and dining room remained in operation until 1934.
Waldraut (Wally, pronounced “Volly”) Matush came to the United States from Stuttgart, Germany in 1961, moved to Hill City in 1970 and acquired the Harney Peak Hotel in 1974. Over a ten year period, the Hotel had housed a variety of businesses until it became home of the present Alpine Inn in 1984.
The warm atmosphere (which Wally refers to as Gemutlichkeit) of the Alpine extends beyond the surface Wally’s kitchen and arms have always been open to those in need of a good ear and good advice. Several of her original employees have remained with her through the years out of the sense of “Family” that Wally and the Alpine have brought to them.
Wally is the “Matron Saint” of the Alpine Inn and plans are to bury her in the basement when she dies so that she can haunt the building with the rest of its ghosts. In 1996, Wally turned over the reins to her daughter, Monika, who carries on with the traditions started by her mother.