Detail of the Black Hills of South Dakota relief model by Edwin Howell owned by the South Dakota School of Mines Technology in Rapid City, SD.
I came across this beautiful model while visiting the school’s Geology Museum. The model is 7 feet tall by 4 1/2 feet wide. It was copyright in 1903 by Howell and made for the state of South Dakota display at the St. Louis (Louisiana Purchase) Exposition in 1904, where it won a Grand Prize in its class. The model covers the whole of the Black Hills uplift. In the center is the granite area with this rock and ancient volcanic features forming the lines of the Hogback Cliffs, Bear Butte and the Devil’s Tower.
In the museum are also Ward & Howell casts of gold nuggets. Made of a special ceramic-clay-sand mix, the gold nugget casts were shaped from drawings and photos of the real nugget, then painted with artists’ paint and shellac. They are likely by Ward & Howell, as Howell ran one of the best-known cast shops in the US at the time and the nuggets are contemporaneous with the Black Hills model. Gold nugget casts in their day were extremely popular as exhibits in natural science museums due to the sensational finds in the news from Alaska, California, and the Dakotas.