Reptile Gardens Celebrates its 80th Birthday With Reunion
If you grew up in South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming or North Dakota chances are there is a picture of you riding a tortoise at Reptile Gardens. And I bet you had a car that sported one of those bumper-stickers. Visiting the snakes and lizards has been a road-trip tradition for eight decades.
It was June 3, 1937 when a young Earl Brockelsby turned his love of snakes into the now landmark Black Hill attraction Reptile Gardens. For 80 years Brockelsby and his family have brought people together with his scaly friends at the park near Rapid City, South Dakota.
Starting with just a few animals, the park got going in the years before WWII. The war years slowed thing a bit, but as the 1950's dawned, the roadside attraction really took off. Growth continued in the face of fire, floods and a change of location.
In the 21st Century Reptile gardens is still a family business with many second and third generation Brockelsby family members involved. After starting with a few specimens 80 years ago, Reptile Gardens has grown into "largest reptile zoo in the world" according to their website. In fact it's a Guinness Book world record holder as such. Joining the reptiles are an extensive collection of insects, birds and flowers.
As part of their 80th anniversary, Reptile Gardens is hosting a reunion of former employees. The gathering at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn on June 17 is expected to draw people who have worked for the park in nearly every decade of it's life.