Staying close to the Wildlife Loop at Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota, we frequently went to see particular animals—the elk that roam the southeastern part of the park, the prairie dogs research area in the south, the wild turkeys and horses in the Bluebell area, the pronghorn, deer and bison wherever they happened to roam, the mountain goats and bighorn sheep in the steep mountains, and, of course, the burros in the southeast. We didn’t always want to travel the whole loop, so we found the shortcuts that took us in and out of the park. Our most frequent visit was to the southeast section, and Lame Johnny Road provided the seven mile shortcut.
Lame Johnny was a former sheriff who wound up hanging from a nearby tree. His road provided more than a shortcut and a sad story. Along its winding way a half mile from the park, it intersects a barnyard with a house and a couple of outbuildings on one side, and a barn and chicken house on the other. On our luckier evenings we got to see a sight that is among the rarest. Not only did we see a chicken cross the road, but we saw a flock of chickens cross the road, in single file, followed by the farmer. We did not think to ask him why the chickens were crossing the road, because we were so amazed to see him herding his chickens. On some occasions the farmer did not appear, but his chickens still crossed the road in single file.
On one occasion a guinea hen and cock provided an additional entertainment, chasing each other in loops around and under the car we were driving. We came to a quick stop, of course, but the guineas continued their chase for several minutes. It was a hold-up. We could have used Lame Johnny’s help in his sheriffing days.