Hands down, the cutest little town I saw while in South Dakota was Deadwood City. It is a quaint little town in the Black Hills not very far from Sturgis. What is amazing about the city is that the whole city is a National Historic Landmark! Pretty cool. Once we realized how close it is to Rapid CIty, we definitely added it to or to do list. I have to say, I am very glad we did.
The city of Deadwood was established in 1876, like many cities in the area, during the Black Hills gold rush. However, Deadwood mostly became known for its wild and almost lawless reputation, during which time murder was common, and punishment for murders not always fair and impartial. The town attained further notoriety for the murder of gunman James Butler Hickok – known as Wild Bill Hickok. Hickok’s murderer, Jack McCall, was prosecuted twice, despite the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against double jeopardy, because of a ruling that Deadwood was an illegal town in Indian Territory and thus lacked the jurisdiction to prosecute or acquit McCall. This decision moved McCall’s trial to a Dakota Territory court (“Indian Court”), where he was found guilty of murder and hanged.
Deadwood gradually evolved from a wild frontier town to a prosperous commercial center, due, in part, to the construction of the railroad. It became the place people traveled in the Black Hills to conduct their business. However during the roaring twenties, gaming became illegal but continued to operate behind closed doors until the repeal of the Prohibition Act in 1935. Then in November of 1989 gaming was reinstated which enabled Deadwood to preserve its historic buildings and dramatically increase tourism. The lure of gaming is not the only draw to Deadwood; people are also fascinated by its unique, colorful history.
Today it is a place to go and walk in the footsteps of legends at one of the towns many historic attractions. I think the most fun though was just walking around and checking out this little town. It is so exciting. We even went into a store that does Old Time Photos. We were thinking about it, but there were a lot of people waiting so we kept walking. We were so glad we did, as we were able to catch a street performance with people dressed in period costumes. It was so remarkable and funny. I could have stood there and listened for hours! We did take some pictures after their performance!
The other thing we really enjoyed was sitting and having a drink in Saloon #10. This is the saloon where Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back and killed by Jack McCall. As legend has it, he was playing poker and holding 2 black aces and 2 black eights, now known as the dead man’s Hand. Today the saloon is packed full of historic Deadwood memorabilia, and you can even see the chair where Wild Bill was shot. The have a great bar and we actually set for a while, had a drink, and imagined what it was like during the late 1800’s. My sister-in-law is related to William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody so I asked the bartender if she knew if he had been in the saloon with Hickok. She said she wasn’t 100% positive, but knew they were acquainted and assumed they had been in there together at one point in time. Just thought it was pretty cool.
Another thing that I thought was pretty cool was that they had recently filmed part of an episode of “The Bachelor” from the previous season in Deadwood. I thought it was pretty exciting and I admit, I actually saw the episode, lol. The town people however, weren’t quite as pleased. Apparently the show really disrupted the town business by shutting down roads, stores, hotels, restaurants, etc. Most of the merchants seemed happy to see them leave I guess they figured they should have stayed in Hollywood, lol
We had a great time in Deadwood and really enjoyed the historic feel around the city. I found this cute little store and thought of my late great aunt Ardell, AKA Miss Kitty. Thought it was fun and had to go in a check it out. Deadwood is definitely a great place to visit and learn about the Old West.
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