Setting The Scene for The Fruitcake Bride

It’s 1879, people are continuing to head west. Railways are still underway. 

The mining boom is growing– and when we thinking of mining back then, we think GOLD! Right? The big gold rush where settlers went across the United States on wagon trains to California and claimed their spots in streams and mountains to find their fortune. 

But when we think of the old west, how often do we recognize the coal mining part of it? Granted, the gold came first, then they found coal, iron, minerals, and a steam punk town needs a fuel source for all that steam.

And a story needs to take place somewhere, so I went on an journey through cyberspace looking up places in the west. Now do you ever recognize that most western “prairie” romances are wrote in South Dakota, Colorado, and Texas? So why would I be any different? Maybe a little.

That’s when I started researching old mining towns. That’s when I came across Annie Creek in Lawrence County, South Dakota. Yes, Annie Creek is still on the map, it’s in a state forest now, but it comes up on Google maps. Mind you, I’ve never been there, it may just be a relic of what it once was during those mining town days. Everything about the town, I’ve created based on research about Annie Creek in 1879 along with many other mining towns of that period. I’ve pieced this town town together based on that, but it’s still a fictional town per the setting for The Fruitcake Bride. So if you’re history buff and I’ve missed something or twisted something, I’m sorry I’m human and sometimes I even misspell words.

That’s why my Fruitcake Bride starts her journey in Chicago. In a larger populated town, with an upper class kind of setting and places like bakeries, dress shops, and other specific merchandises.  (Also a good place to add steam punk elements to create the feel for this sweet story to unfold. )

Then after finding my little mining town, there had to be motivation. Perhaps I’m giving away too much that’s in the novella here, but after a critique with my writer’s group it was decided I needed a set up. So, I wrote the Prologue, and with it came the motivation and the newspaper ad.

Tweet: Mining Companies out west need good men. John Roberts is ready to get his hands dirty and escape the sorrows of Chicago.


1879 mine worker ad

The last thing Kati wanted to do was leave their cozy apartment above the bakery where her mother helped each morning there in Chicago, but Pa got the mining bug and they’ve been living in Annie Creek, South Dakota ever since.

Then the romance comes into the plot and the story starts.

Because I’ve taken a historical western genre and added the steam punk conveniences to the time period, you’ll find Annie Creek isn’t your typical old west town.

Bannack State Park

Annie Creek may not have all the “modern” inventions of the eastern states, but they still have slowly gained the knowledge brought west from others. Like, gases released from the mines is used for lighting, while coal harvested from the tunnels are used to heat homes and power transportation.

Doctor Ryburn's House

Like most mining towns in the west, Annie Creek is both named for, owned, and ran by the  a mining company. This quaint little town has a boarding house, restaurant, church, company store, company housing, blacksmith shop, bank, courthouse/ jail,  hotel, and saloon.

Miners works for weekly vouchers where they can cash in at the company store, saloon, or bank.

Miners are provided company housing on the outskirts of town.

43307 Bannack Main Street

Ready to visit Annie Creek?

I’m thinking a shopping trip is in order, and it’s time to bake that sweet fruitcake from Kati’s recipe.

I’ll be releasing the first chapter excerpt this week to everyone who subscribes to my blog. If you’re not subscribed yet, do it now! You’ll also get a free copy of my short kindle story, Emma’s Dilemma, on pdf. You can always unsubscribe later if you’re unhappy with your subscription, no strings attached. I promise.


 *additional photos compliments of flickr creative commons.*

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2 thoughts on “Setting The Scene for The Fruitcake Bride

  1. Grant

    I believe that Annie Creek was a gold mining town, not a coal mining town since in the records they made around $600,000 in gold before mining operations were ceased in 1916. There were Coal mines in Annie Creek but the town was mainly a gold mining town as far as I know.

    1. Susan Lower Post author

      Grant, You are correct. The real Annie Creek was a gold mining town. That’s why in this post I explain that for the purpose of my novella, my Annie Creek is a fictional town inspired by the real town. Because it is a fictional story based a historical place, I’ve added elements of a steam punk culture to the story. So I switched the traditional gold mining to coal in order to support the steam powered heating and baking inventions used in this story. Research tells us after Annie Creek was finished with mining for gold in 1916 the company moved on to mine other valuable minerals, which we’ll still see these minerals as well as a gold vein strike in release of this series in the future. Thanks for stopping in today and commenting. I hope you enjoy the first book of this series.


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