Turn-of-the-century fun

Brookings man donates sleigh, racing cart to museum

VOLGA – Two rare recreational conveyances popular in the early 1900s have been donated to the new Trygve A. Trooien Horse-Drawn Museum that will soon become a part of the Brookings County Museum complex in Volga.

Thanks to the generosity of a local man, a mint condition one-horse open sleigh, officially called a cutter, and a well-preserved harness racing cart or sulky, will become a colorful part of the new addition to the county museum buildings in Volga’s city park.  

“We are appreciative of Conor (Rude’s) gift to the museum and believe the well-preserved cutter and the unusual racing sulky will be of great interest to museum visitors in the years to come,” said Phil Wagner of Brookings, president of the Brookings County Historical Society.

Wagner said that both items are representative of some of early South Dakotans’ recreational preferences  

The new gifts will be among the common and unusual horse-drawn farm equipment and other conveyances representing early South Dakota that will be on display at the $150,000 museum’s grand opening from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, May 27.

Following the grand opening of the Horse-Drawn Museum and the museum’s other facilities, the museum will resume its regular summer schedule, open daily seven days a week from 1-4 p.m.

Conor Rude is a 2014 Brookings High School graduate who will graduate this year from South Dakota State University with a degree in entrepreneurial studies.

He is the son of Alfred and Deanna Rude, well-known Brookings residents representing the Rude family’s more than a century of business and service to Brookings and the Brookings County community. 

The two-seated cutter and the sulky racer originally belonged to the late Vernon Rude, Conor’s great-uncle. He became a partner with his father, Bert, in Rude’s Funeral Home in 1944. 

Harness racing was a popular sport at the turn of the last century, with harness racing always a part of county fairs and the South Dakota State Fair 

Vernon Rude was a well-known horseman in the area and when he died in 1998 the cutter and sulky passed on to his nephew Alfred Rude, who gave the historic items to his son Conor. 

For several years the cutter and sulky cart were displayed in the lower level of Rude’s Store on Main Avenue in Brookings. Alfred and Deanna are closing the store soon, and plan to make their retirement home in Lead in the Black Hills.

Courtesy photo: Conor Rude of Brookings has gifted to the Brookings County Museum in Brookings this small sleigh, also known as a cutter, and the well-preserved harness racing cart, or sulky, that is displayed behind him on the wall of the new Trygve A.Trooien Horse-Drawn Museum that is now a part of the six-building county museum in Volga’s City Park. The county museum and the new Horse-Drawn Museum will open at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 27, and then resume summer hours on May 28, seven days a week 1-4 p.m.


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