Residents of Lemmon, South Dakota, are happy to share the real story of fur trader and trapper Hugh Glass who suffered a gruesome bear attack just a couple miles from their sleepy town of 1200.
First of all, anyone who visits Lemmon or neaby Shadehill Recreation Area will note that they are not in the mountains like the movie shows, they are on the northern mixed grass prairie. And, there are very few trees. Very few.
The real story of Hugh Glass takes place “Where north and south fork of grand river come together to form the Grand River,” John Lopez, Lemmon resident said in a video he posted about the site. “Today it’s known as Shadehill Reservoir, and the very spot where Hugh Glass was mauled is under water.”
The Bureau of Reclamation completed a dam on the Grand River in 1954. The reservoir has 5,000 acres of surface water today and provides excellent fishing and recreation opportunities. Shadehill Recreation Area is managed by South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. One side of the reservoir has campsites, a lodge, a boat ramp and picnic shelter. The other side of the reservoir, the Hugh Glass Lakeside Use Area, is a primitive campground with 12 sites for that type of rough camping.
The Hugh Glass Rendezvous will be held there August 25 to 28, 2016, with reinactors accurately recreating the time period Glass and other fur trappers were there.
Lemmon, S.D., is just 12 miles down the road. The town of 1200 is ready to welcome visitors who want to learn more about the area’s history. The Grand River Museum, open May 1 to September 30, has several displays about not only Hugh Glass, but also the area’s ranching history, dinosaur dig sites and Native American history.
Visitors can also stop at the world’s largest petrified wood park in Lemmon. The park is filled with petrified wood formations and some other geological specimens and takes up an entire city block. The museum in the park is constructed itself with petrified wood.
Residents give a nod to “The Revenant” book by Michael Punke, but most cite “Lord Grizzly” by Frederick Manfred for putting the story of Hugh Glass in the public’s eye originally. “Lord Grizzly” was published in 1954 after Manfred spent years studying Glass, including crawling around the ground himself with an arm and a leg bound up so he couldn’t use them. Punke’s 2002 book brought Glass’ story back to the forefront and Hollywood grabbed it up for film.
Visit Lemmon, South Dakota, and remember, never judge a book by its movie!