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In an idyllic location just upstream from Silver City, a summer camp for kids was established in the early 20th century.

Though many times referred to as a sanatorium, the historical record  reflects that "Camp Wanzer is not a tuberculosis camp. It is a camp for building up physically run-down children. No one with tuberculosis or other communicable disease is admitted. The plan is to have the children live out here away from vices and irregularities of city life, where proper hours, food, exercise and supervision may build up their run-down bodies. The records show remarkable results. Children are required to rise at a certain time, observe exercise periods, rest periods, to eat wholesome meals at regular times and to sleep enough each night. They have a nice swimming hole, too.


The children enjoy the vacation. They are kept for three to six weeks, and in practically every case leave there stronger and happier than when they came. A person is highly impressed with what this camp means to these children. There were fifty-five there in 1928. Children come from all parts of the state. Parents pay for it where they can and the Christmas seals sale pays for the rest. After seeing where our Christmas seal proceeds go we are ever so much more willing and even anxious to contribute to the fund."

"Through the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota", 1929 P.D. Peterson


Vintage movie of the camp. It follows the campers on their daily activities.



Rich Larson spent the summer of '46 a the camp. He recalls with fondness the the freedom that the camp gave to a kid like him. They used to run around the woods and remembers being mesmerized by the flying squirrels jumping from tree to tree. He also recalls a cabin on the south side of the creek owned by the Cutler family. He, at the time, thought they were scary.


The boys participated in the famed boxing matches. The boys would wear colored gloves around their neck to indicate their category. This were exciting times for the young pugilists.


Larson, like many other kids there, was healthy. Making sure that kids gained weight while at camp was important to camp counselor Gery Fletcher. She would give kids castor oil and orange slices. Campers would be weighed daily and would get an ice cream treat if they were making progress. Some kids were known to put "slickers" in their potects when it came time to get on the scale.

Interview with Rich Larson (9/3/10)


The camp cabins were downed sometime before 1962. 

Remnants of the site can be seen a couple hundred feet upstream from the Trail #40 Trailhead in Silver City. Once you cross the concrete bridge, the camp would be on the right hugging the bend in the creek.

A visitor can see some foundations, the water cistern up the hill, and the damed swimming hole.

In May of 2012 an F1 tornado hit the area and brought down many of the old growth trees.

1932 Wanzer Christmas Seal Envelope.png


The Christmas seals organization was a big supporter of Camp Wanzer. 

Christmas seals are labels placed on mail during the Christmas season to raise funds and awareness for charitable programs. They have become particularly associated with lung diseases such as tuberculosis, and with child welfare


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