Deadwood, South Dakota

I mentioned on Friday our family had a planned one day road trip on Saturday. With the snow and bitter cold, I knew we would probably not be able to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park. When we came out in September, we stopped at the top of Painted Canyon for pictures and saw some of the wild bison. We've been wanting to go back and see them in the snow, but dealing with a -40 degree windchill makes the phrase  "when you've seen one buffalo, you've seen them all," all too real.

Living in the southeastern corner of a state where everything that is educational or fun is about four hours away and trying to decide where to go and face the frigid weather and seasonal closings can be a little discouraging. My husband mentioned visiting Spearfish Canyon in Spearfish, South Dakota on Friday when he came in from work; a fellow co-worker told him about it. I did a little internet research and found that Spearfish is not too far from Deadwood, South Dakota. Yep, the real Deadwood where Wild Bill Hickok was killed.  We were able to see both places.

Of course, Deadwood is like many tourist towns through out the area where many of the establishments close for the winter. There are somethings that a family can enjoy even in the off season, but not much. Deadwood is known for its bars and casinos, but if you look over that, a history loving family can spend the day there and experience what life would have been like in the 1870/1880's. HERE is a link to the attractions that are offered in Deadwood.

I fall in the categories of Wild West History and Westward Expansion lover; I even have a soft spot for gunslingers. I know, crazy! My husband has helped feed my addiction  over the years by stopping off in St. Joseph, Missouri, Sundance, Wyoming, Little Big Horn, Boot Hill in Billings, Montana (local history) and Garnet, Montana. Of course, my list of planned trips are in the works now that we back in Montana.

Deadwood is nestled in the Black Hills. The area is beautiful! Oh, the snow on the hillside makes the scenery just mind blowing.

Deadwood was a mining town during the 1870's Black Hills gold rush. Being a gold mining town, there was wildness that lived here. Sadly, the first pioneer preacher to the area, Henry Weston Smith was murdered  on the hill right outside of Deadwood. There are two speculations as to who did the horrible deed; Indians and miners. The Mount Moriah Cemetary information leans towards the murder being committed by Indians.

The most memorable act that happened in Deadwood, was the murder of Wild Bill Hickok. History tells that anytime, Hickok entered the saloon he sat at a poker table beside a huge fireplace with his back against the wall. On August 2, 1876, when he sat down at the table, he sat with his back towards the door; leaving him in a vulnerable position.

The original site does not house the items any longer. They have moved them across the street to a larger building which is a real bar and casino. During the day, the gaming establishments are open to families since so many of them are full of museum artifacts, like this one.

This is the chair Wild Bill was sitting in when he was shot.

These are some original photos and drawings of Wild Bill.

Wild Bill and Calamity Jane are buried beside each other in Mt. Moriah Cemetery. Jane's grave is the one with yellow and red flowers.

The cemetery is beautiful, it is located on a hillside looking down on the city; it is definitely rough terrain.

One thing that really stood out to me about this resting place are the walk ways. Each one that we saw were named after people or places from the Bible.

If you know anything about Wild Bill and Calamity Jane, then you know "wild" is perfect for Bill. As for Jane well, she was no Dale Evans.

If you are a history loving family, you really don't want to miss Deadwood, South Dakota. Just remember they are a casino and bar tourist site.

I'll post about Spearfish Canyon later this week. I'm spending time with my sweet husband since he has today off from work.

1 comment

  1. I love these posts, Lori! Also, I was wondering...what kind of heat do most people use there? Wood, gas, oil, electric? Hope you are staying warm!


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