Despite the heat, Rochford celebrates its 140th birthday

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ROCHFORD, S.D. -

Despite the heat, people gathered in Rochford, S.D. on Saturday to celebrate its 140th birthday. NewsCenter1’s Brant Beckman set off on 5 miles of twisting, dirt road to find this ghost town.

Upon entering the town, a sign that shows a population of eight was found to be false. Talking with the local town historian, Brant found out the real story.

“I counted yesterday and really, there are nine,” local resident Linda Sandness explained. “We’re up to nine now, we’ve had a population explosion.”

The town was celebrating its 140th birthday, starting out as a booming mining town during the Black Hills' gold rush of the 1870s. At one time, Rochford’s 1,100 residents competed with Rapid City to become the county seat.

With the decline in mining, so followed the population. That hasn't stopped its nine in-town residents from celebrating its birthday and hosting a fundraiser for the local fire department.

Along with a fundraiser, the firehouse hosted a barrel pushing tournament between different teams of the Black Hills National Forest Service; a sport where a giant barrel on a line is pushed back and forth in a game of tug-a-war, only using fire hoses. 

Rochford took home the trophy, after several years of having it travel between different areas in the Black Hills.

The Black Hills community came out in large numbers to celebrate its firemen and its ghost town, which to the contrary is very much alive. As it turns out, firemen from this very competition are headed out on July 8 for a new battleground - the fires in Colorado.

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