Thursday, November 4, 2010

Deadwood, South Dakota in the Black Hills

The settlement of Deadwood, named for the dead trees found in the gulch, began in 1870. When General Custer's expedition discovered gold near today's town of Custer, people flocked into the Black Hills searching for gold  and Deadwood quickly grew into a lawless town with a population of 5,000.
In this picture taken on our trip in October, you can still see dead trees on the hill. Curious about the reason they remained, I discovered that since 1970, woodland managers have enouraged leaving dead trees and woody debris to encourage organic forest regeneration.

In 1876 gamblers and prostitues folked into town contributing to its seedy reputation. In the pictures below are shots of Saloon Number 10 where Wild Bill was shot August 2, 1876 which led to the notoriety of Deadwood. He and Calamity Jane are buried in Mount Moriah Cemetary in Deadwood.

There are many old historic buildings, like the ones below, still in use today.

As a writer, I've always wanted a visual image of what hotels and saloons looked like in the back. Here is a photo of the rear entrances/exits of some old buildings. Can you see patrons sneaking down those stairs in hopes their activities will go unreported?
Deadwood lost its rough and rowdy character when the economy changed from gold rush to steady mining. A fire in 1879 destroyed 300 buildings and many citizens moved on to start over somewhere else. Another fire in 1959 came close to destroying Deadwood. In 1961, the town was declared a National Historic Landmark.  The economy continued to decline due to the Interstate 90 bypass and in 1964 its brothels were closed down after a raid. In 1989, gambling was legalized in Deadwood and now aids in maintaining the historic area.

I love to play the slots. Below is a picture of the Celebrity Hotel where I spent an hour playing the slots while Larry toured the Car Museum. The hotel lobby doesn't look like what we're used to seeing in hotels--a fancy check-in counter and large seating area. In the hotel I entered, the check-in desk was there, but the lobby was filled with slot machines. 

Deadwood is a quaint little town filled with historic places to explore and stories to unearth. If I'd been writing a story about the area, I'd have returned with a folder full of notes and pictures. But, I wasn't so we only spent half a day. I couldn't see driving all the way to South Dakota from Texas and not seeing the town that has made some books and movies so popular.

Happy Reading and Writing!



SAM and LINDA said...

Linda...Again, you've penned and pictured a marvelous story on one of the Black Hills most notorious historic sites!! Linda Brown

Linda LaRoque said...

Thank, Linda. We so enjoyed visiting your state and the many historial places.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Stacey said...

Love your blogs about your trip out west. I've been to Deadwood and enjoyed all the history. You took some great pics of the buildings. Hopefully a new book or two will come from this wonderful vacation.

Paty Jager said...

Great photos. Looks like a good place to visit.