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The Hoover Store

Hoover Store is the only business for several miles in Butte County.

When Jim and Leona McFarland bought a Butte County ranch in 1976, they found that it came with an old general store that was closed. “We had a couple of teenage daughters who were interested in opening it up so we did,” says Leona. The neighbors were appreciative; the next place to buy milk or eggs is 33 miles down the road.

Gas, sandwiches, salt blocks and other necessities for man, cattle and sheep are the store’s mainstays, but “beer is number one by far,” laughs Leona. Built of wood in 1902, the store still looks like a western movie set. Some evenings, cowboys and hunters play 10-point pitch around a wide card table.

Castle Rock Fire Department — which has no fire station, and parks its trucks on ranches — holds a Texas Hold ’em fundraiser tournament every December. Grass and forest fires ignited by bolts of lightning are the biggest challenge for firefighters.

The store is a popular gathering place for local ranchers.

Hoover is along Highway 79, near Custer National Forest. Sixteen miles south of town is Castle Rock, a large sandstone butte that appears from a distance like a medieval palace. Tourists and bikers straggle in throughout the year, and hunters arrive in the autumn to look for deer, antelope and turkey. Some hang their trophy mounts in the store beside the McFarland collection of cowboy memorabilia, fossils, arrowheads and a picture of two big bull snakes in a mating pose.

Ranch families are the store’s bread and butter. Some buy nearly all their groceries at Hoover. Leona McFarland says the ranchers are unique. “They’ve had to be tough to stay in it with cattle and sheep. They’re just a very strong type of person, and yet they are good neighbors even if they live far apart. If anybody needs anything, everybody is there to help.”

Running a one-store town is probably as difficult as ranching, and Leona has been doing it alone since her husband died three years ago. But her daughter, Jean, and Jean’s husband Jerry McNulty are moving home this summer to help. Hoover’s population is about to triple.

Editor’s Note: This story is revised from the July/August 2013 issue of South Dakota Magazine. To order a copy or to subscribe, call (800) 456-5117.


09:46 am - Tue, August 9 2016
Regina Smith said:
I have sat at that table and visited with the patrons. My aunt Leona does a great service for the local population.
06:41 pm - Thu, March 23 2017
Cindy Brick said:
We just stopped there a few days ago, and enjoyed Leona's warmth and friendly ways.

Without her store, we would have run out of a gas on a cold, sleeting icy day. I'm so glad she was there.

(You see, pack of guard dogs, we really were okay.)
05:48 pm - Thu, November 23 2017
anonymous said:
My husband and Jerry were best friends in high school so we had Thanksgiving there today with the family. It was a wonderful day and I felt honored to be seated at the table with Hoover's Mayor, Leona!

Very cool place with warm, loving people and lots of cold beer!
05:50 pm - Thu, November 23 2017
Emory and Debbra Heisler said:
Forgot our name in the above post about Thanksgiving.
09:30 am - Mon, February 5 2018
Gerald Kirk said:
I grew up down the river from Hoover and it was our address until 1955. Ben Grain owned and run the store until about 1952. Day Hoover had it for awhile. There was a school and dance hall for several years there. Interesting!
10:08 am - Wed, April 4 2018
Lora Tuzicka said:
I’ve known Jean McNulty for many years she is a good friend my family and I visited there many years ago would love to go back miss you JeAn love you
05:48 pm - Sun, November 11 2018
Kristie R Manley said:
This place belongs to my Aunt Leona....I love this woman to death... It may be far and in between places but it is the best by far.
07:52 pm - Sun, June 23 2019
Celena Wandler said:
I have bad asthma and allergies and I was having trouble breathing from all the different things blooming, and of course forgot my inhaler at home. I was in search of allergy meds since I knew it’d help me breath a little easier. I was so relieved when I found this little town! I grabbed some allergy meds and was ready to pay when I realized that they only took cash. I was worried because we had no idea when the next gas station would be, but the lovely lady could tell I was having troubles breathing and offered me some of her allergy medicine and I was sooo thankful, I couldn’t believe how kind she was!! She also gave me a worry stone, I absolutely love it! The medicine helped SO much, I will definitely stop by every time I go to South Dakota, I couldn’t thank the lady enough!
08:43 am - Tue, December 29 2020
Joseph Budd said:
Stopped in here about 10 days ago, on a gusty December. Met the mother and daughter, talked at length to both, neat lil general store. Will stop in again, love the history.
12:22 pm - Tue, February 23 2021
Paddy O said:
A number of years back, during the Sturgis Bike Rall a dozen + - friends & I from the Northeast stopped in. Regretfully it was the day after Leona lost her husband Jim. Despite the sad tragic event, Leona welcomed us with open arms. We reciprocated by purchasing what food & drink was available as we were hungry & thirsty. Thank you for the warm welcome & fond memories. God willing, we will return. Till then stay safe. Is there a means of attaching a few photos here as I have them with us inside & outside the store.
04:56 pm - Sun, June 4 2023
Jason linnen said:
We were touring from England. It was getting late and I had wrongly thought there were motels in castle rock.
We ended up pulling into hoover, completely lost. There were children playing outside who when asked if there was an adult replied Granny is inside you will like Granny.
Granny, a little bemused by the crazy English couple was, never the less, friendly and helpful and got us on our way to arrive at a motel.
It's an encounter we often talk about as it was the one time in the 5 week tour that I decided to organise the route and accommodation.
We were talking about it tonight and thanks to Google maps and goggle search found this page.
I would like to thank 'Granny' for the wonderful memory and send a warm hug from England.
Jason and Angie x

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