Rapid City, the Summer Playground of America, was founded in 1876 by gold seekers, fueled by a rush to the Black Hills following Gen. George Custer s 1874 expedition. When the railroad arrived a decade later, cattlemen replaced prospectors, and Rapid City remained a hub of activity. By the end of World War I, the popularity of the automobile and newly constructed roads helped to shape area tourism. Mount Rushmore, 23 miles distant, was under construction in 1927, and the new Hotel Alex Johnson was completed in 1928. Together they were natural draws, complementing the pine-scented beauty surrounding Rapid City and making the city the center of western hospitality. As World War II ended, the traveling public again sought out Rapid City and its surrounding attractions as its destination for that memorable vacation out West. Today not much has changed. The Hotel Alex Johnson continues to be a landmark headquarters for tour operators, and Mount Rushmore remains a premier visitor site. And now Rapid City is further enhanced by the City of Presidents project, a work in progress in its historic downtown district."