S.D. Revealed
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Al Swearengen
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History of Deadwood | Links about Deadwood
Information Sources

Deadwood Gulch from Scribners monthly - 1877
Deadwood Gulch from Scribners monthly - 1877

Deadwood is in the Black Hills, in western South Dakota, 30 miles east of the Wyoming border. It was incorporated in 1876. The city is set in a narrow canyon (Deadwood Gulch), with many streets built up its steep sides. It currently is the county seat of Lawrence County. The original camp was called Deadwood because of the vast amount of dead and down timber in the region. An attempt to change the name to Miles City, in honor of the General just then winning his honors for the Indian wars, failed. The town was first populated during the gold rush in the Black Hills.

History of Deadwood
The oldest existing record of discovery of gold in the Black Hills was in 1833, when a party of seven adventurers came into the Hills from Laramie, remaining a year and discovering gold. The party was destroyed by Indians near Spearfish (which is near Deadwood) and all record of it lost for more than fifty years. What is called the "Thoen Stone" was found at Spearfish in 1887 by Louis and Ivan Thoen. Reportedly written on a slab of rock was a message that seven men, led by Ezra Kind, had come to the hills in 1833 hunting gold, and that they were attacked by Indians. Apparently they perished in 1833-34.

Next, in June 1854, Dr. Ferdinand V. Hayden, a geologist of repute, visited Bear Butte on the eastern border of the Hills, and in 1857 Lieut. Governor K. Warren [see photo] accompanied by Dr. Hayden and a military escort, passed along the western side of the Black Hills, and crossed through them, via Harney Peak, and along the eastern side as far as Bear Butte. There was not further attempt at exploration until July 1874, when Gen. Custer with his regiment of cavalry and a corps of scientists came down from Fort Abraham Lincoln, entering the Hills from the west side, passing through them, scaling Harney Peak en route and discovering gold upon French Creek, near the city of Custer. A minute record of this exploration was kept and the substance of it published in the "Report of a Reconnaisance of the Black Hills of Dakota, made in the summer of 1874" by Captain William Ludlow, chief engineer, Department of Dakota, U.S. Army.

The report of Custer's exploration created great excitement and a rush of gold hunters was precipitated; but the government intervened and attempted to keep the miners out until a treaty with the Indians could be negotiated. Some, however, evaded the military and entered the Black Hills in the autumn of 1874. In the spring of 1875 the government sent Dr. Walter P. Jenney, under a military escort in command of Col. Richard I. Dodge, to make a geological reconnaissance of the hills, and he substantially verified the findings of Custer.

In September 1875, the government assembled at Red Cloud agency all of the Indians claiming rights in the Hills, for the purpose of negotiating a treaty, but was unable to reach an agreement. After that the military withdrew all active opposition to miners entering the region and during the fall and winter following a large number (said to exceed 15,000 assembled), chiefly in the neighborhood of Custer.

There are TWO versions on who first discovered Deadwood:

Story #1:
From Pa-ha-sa-pah, Or, The Black Hills of South Dakota, by Peter Rosen, published 1895: "According to some authorities Ed. Murphy and others from Montana visited Deadwood gulch in the late autumn of 1875 and were the first discoverers of gold. Murphy wrote to John Hildebrand, who in April 1876, came on from Montana bringing a considerable party with him. On the 13th day of November Frank Bryant found gold in Deadwood while hunting deer, and on the 15th of the same month, he with one of his party, commenced to prospect Deadwood gulch, and on the 17th, the following notice was written on a spruce tree by Bryant:--
'We the undersigned, claim three hundred (300) feet below this notice for discovery, and nine hundred (900) feet or three claims above this notice for mining purposes. [Signed] Frank S. Bryant, William Cudney, W.H. Coder.'

Story #2: It was reported in the Deadwood News in October, 1880, that the honor of discovering Deadwood Gulch probably belongs to Dan Meckles, who with a party of seven were sluicing on Castle Creek. This party had packed an old wagon box, in small pieces, of which they had made a sluice box and had undergone great hardships to reach Castle Creek, and after three days' hard work had cleaned up $3-10. Discouraged, they were thinking of returning, when Meckles came into camp and announced that he had discovered a gulch where he could get 50 cents to the pan. The party, loath to believe him, thought they would look it up, and after several days of wandering brought up near the base of Bald Mountain. Going up near the summit at Terraville, they got a view of the surrounding country and going down Deadwood Gulch they camped near where Gayville was to be.

Bill Gay panned out the first panful of dirt and got 50 cents; others tried it with equal success. Convinced that they had struck it, they started in to build a cabin--the first ever built in the gulch. They named it Deadwood Gulch on account of the immense amount of dead timber which filled the gulch. The names of the party were Dan Meckles, J.B. Pierson, Joe Ingoldsby, Wm. Gay, Wm. Laudner, Ed McCay, James Mayer, Harry Gammage, and old man Haggart. They had saddle and pack animals, some tools and a little stock of provisions. Elk and deer were abundant and they had all the meat they wanted.

They arrived at Deadwood Gulch November 9, 1875, and the same day staked off their claims, 300 feet long up and down the gulch, and as wide as the gulch. In a few days they were joined by a party from Montana, and had camped where Spearfish City stands. Nearly all of them were delighted with the country and declared that they had found the "Happy Land of Canaan," one of whom, R.H. Evans, picked out a ranch and declared he would quit mining and go farming. Mr. Evans kept his word, for after mining and prospecting for many years, he located a ranch one mile below Spearfish, and became one of the most successful grangers in the country.

Shoun, a freighter, brough in a whipsaw, and got out lumber which he sold for $150 a thousand. Population increased rapidly, and in December, at a meeting held on the 9th, the district was named the Lost Mining District, and William Laudner was elected recorder. In January, 1876, quartz locations were made. The first one was called the Giant; and the quart district was named Whitewood.

In January 1876 the Deadwood gulch was staked off in forty placer-mining claims...The towns of Montana City, North and South Deadwood, Fountain City, Chinatown and Cleveland grew up rapidly; all these form now the busy city of Deadwood.

Gold having been discovered in Deadwood Gulch, a stampede to the diggings almost depopulated the town of Custer in the spring of 1876.

According to the Pioneer, the town of Deadwood was laid out April 26th, 1876 by Craven Lee, Isaac Brown, J.J. Williams and others. A provisional government was organized and E.B. Farnum chosen mayor. Farnum was a merchant, and held his court regularly, sitting on a sack of flour or a box of bacon, dispensing justice with an impartial hand. The council was made up of Keller Kurtz, Sol Star, Frank Philbrook, Joseph Miller and James McCauly, with John A. Swift for city clerk, and Colonel Stapleton city marshal.

Summer of 1876 - Al Swearingen opens the Gem Saloon and Dance Hall [in the Spring of 1877 it expanded to the Gem Theatre].

On June 8th, 1876 the Pioneer became the first newspaper published in the Black Hills. It was first owned by W.A. McLaughlin and A.W. Merrick. It says in one of its first issues: "Bustle and confusion was prevalent everywhere. Each day and almost each hour witnessed the arrival of greater or less parties of gold seekers who, finding some eligible location to corral their wagons or pitch their tents, immediately mixed with the throng and became one of us. Glowing reports filled the air. Placers yielded fabulously, and quartz brilliant with gold passed from hand to hand. Speculation in town lots amounted to a furore of the wildest kind. Everyone wanted to buy real estate; all did who could. Building was at its height, taxing to the utmost Boughton and Berry's sawmill which stood on Sherman street and was in continuous operation....Saloons multiplied astonishingly, and gambling was carried on without limit and without regard to hours--in fact all hours, day and night, were alike--and "always open" the motto of all. C.H. Wagner opened the first resemblance of a hotel--the Grand Central--and was speedily followed by Jimmy Vandoniker with the IXL. Both houses did an immense business from the start, it being considered a luxury to occupy a chair in the office during the night. The first practicing physician was Dr. McKinney; the first druggist Julius Deetkin; Joseph Miller and William George the first attorneys at law; Furman & Brown opened the first general stock of groceries; M.m. Gillette the first jewelry establishment; Bear & McKinnis the first wholesale liquor store.

The first theatre was opened on July 22d, 1876. The building, a frame, was inclosed around the four sides but had a canvas roof, and the floor was of earth covered with sawdust. It is said that during the first stage performance a heavy rain fell, drenching the audience and the stage; but the play went on and the greater part of the audience remained.

The years 1876 and 1877 were characterized by much lawlessness and a considerable number of men were killed in the frequent quarrels. The town was full of gamblers and shooting was a common pastime. About the First of August 1876, one Jerry McCarthy killed Jack Hinch. Jerry made his escape to Fort Laramie but he was arrested and brought back. The trial took place at Gayville. A S. Simmonton acted as the court, John A. Smith was clerk, A.H. Chapline attorney for the prosecution, and Joseph Miller for the defense. A guard of twenty men took the place of the sheriff and posse. A jury was drawn, witnesses were present, and the trail, which took place in the open air, continued into the night. The jury rendered a verdict of not guilty. The mob were in favor of lynching the jury, but the guards leveled their weapons and stood them off. The prisoner was taken out a back door, brought to Deadwood, given a horse and gun, and directed to get out of the country as soon as possible. He leaped into the saddle, put spurs to his horse, and with one farewell whoop disappeared at full speed down the gulch.

August 2, 1876, Seth Bullock and his partner, Sol Star, arrive in Deadwood with the intent of setting up a mercantile shop.

On August 2nd [1876], the same day on which Wild Bill was murdered, a Mexican came galloping up Main Street, with the head of an Indian from which blood was still dripping, hanging on the horn of his saddle...they made up a purse of sixty dollars and presented it to the Mexican for his heroic deed. [per Pa-ha-sa-pah, or the Black Hills of South Dakota, by Peter Rosen] "On the first day of August 1876, a band of Indians dashed into Crook City and stampeded all the horses that were running losse about the place...every man in town...went in pursuit. Among the number was one Felix Rooney from Potter Co., Pennsylvania, who...rode up to the bluffs back of the town in time to see the Indians in the distance but out of reach of their guns....Rooney dismounted and laid on the grass...his horse..held by his lariat-rope. A bull-whacker coming along, dismounted and stopped for a short time with Rooney. Both men were well armed. Soon an Indian appeared in full war dress, dashed up to Rooney's horse, apparently thinking that the animal was picketed. On seeing Rooney he grabbed his rifle but somehow the same was fast in some way; he then drew a forty-five caliber Colt revolver and aimed it directly at Rooney...[who] was taken by surprised...[and] felt flat to the ground the moment the Indian fired his revolver. He afterwards said that he felt as being shot. He soon discovered to his great delight that he was alive and that the Indian was the dead man. At the moment the Indian leveled his gun, the bullwhacker fired and killed him. As the people of Deadwood had offered a reward of $200 for an Indian scalp, the aforesaid Mexican finding the Indian soon after, took his scalp and brought it to Deadwood expecting the reward. He got sixty dollars, went on a spree and before it was over he too was killed between Deadwood and Crook City."

Wild Bill Hickok was murdered in the original Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood on August 2, 1876 by Jack McCall, during a poker game. He is buried in the original old cemetery in Deadwood. His body is later moved to Mt. Moriah Cemetery.

Aug 5, 1876 - Seth Bullock and Sol Star announce they will open an auction and storage house (Seth was an auctioneer in Montana) [from "Black Hill's Pioneer," newspaper].

On August 12, 1876, according to the "Black Hills Daily Pioneer, smallpox broke out in the town (mild form). Seven days later a "pest house" was set up for those afflicted.

On August 19, 1876, according to the "Black Hills Daily Pioneer," Seth Bullock is elected commissioner and fire warden.

On August 20, 1876, Rev. H.W. Smith dies, reportedly following an attack by Indians. He is buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery. [some records state this happened on August 2nd]

The Bella Union opens one month and a few days after Hickok's death, namely September 10, 1876. Tom Miller is named as the proprietor in the "Black Hills Daily Pioneer."

In 1876 General George Crook (1828-1890), Commander of the Department of the Platte made his first visit to Dakota to remove gold hunters from the Black Hills before a treaty legalized their entry. In 1876 he fought Crazy Horse on the Rosebud River and was defeated. Later that season, pursuing the hostiles with the Third Cavalry and the Fifth Infantry, he found their provisions exhausted and the praries burned off. Deadwood was the nearest base and he started through the gumbo. It rained continuously for eleven days and the men lived on horse meat. Enroute he fought the battle of Slim Buttes. After great hardship he reached Deadwood in 1876. The "Black Hills Daily Pioneer" of Sep 23 1876 announced his visit.

     By resolution of the Deadwood Council, a committee, consisting of the first mayor, Farnum, and councilmen Kurtz, Dawson, and Philbrick, was sent out to meet General Crook and extend to him and his officers the freedom of the city....they...brought along with them a most acceptable present of butter, eggs, and vegetables raised in the Hills."

     The surrounding knolls were thickly grassed; cold, clear water stood in deep pools hemmed in by thick belts of timber; and there was an abundance of juicy wild plums, grapes and bull berries, now fully ripe, and adding a grateful finish to meals, which included nearly everything that a man could desire, brought down in wagons by the enterprising dealers of Deadwood, who reaped a golden harvest.

     We were somewhat bewildered at sitting down before a canvas upon which were to be seen warm bread baked in ovens dug in the ground, delicious coffee, to the aromas of which we had been for so long a time strangers, groiled and stewed meat, fresh eggs, pickles, preserves, and fresh vegetables.

     By the law of the community, a gold placer or ledge could be followed anywhere, regardless of other property rights; in consequence of this, the office of "The Pioneer" (newspaper) was on stilts, being kept in countenance by a Chinese laundryman whose establishment was in the same predicament. Miners were at work under them, and it looked as if it would be come economical to establish one's self in a balloon in the first place.

     Then followed a reception in the "Deadwood Theatre and Academy of Music," built one-half of boards and the other half of canvas. After the reception, there was a performance by "Miller's Grand Combination Troupe, with the Following Array of Stars." It was the usual variety show of the mining towns and villages, but much of it was quite good; one of the saddest interpolations was the vocalization by Miss Viola de Montmorency, the Queen of Song, prior to her departure for Europe to sing before the crowned heads. Miss Viola was all right, but her voice might have had stitches in it, and been one the worse...."

     We left...to walk along the main street and look upon the stores, which were filled with all articles desirable in a mining district...Clothing, heavy and light, hardware, tinware, mess-pans, camp-kettles, blankets, saddlery, harness, rifles, cartridges, wagon-grease and blasting powder, india-rubber boots and garden seeds, dried and canned fruits, sardines, and yeast powders, loaded down the shelves; the medium of exchange was gold dust; each counter displayed a pair of delicate scales, and every miner carried a buckskin pouch containing the golden grains required for daily use.

     Greenbacks were not in circulation, and already commanded a premium of five percent, on account of their portability. Gaming hells flourished, and all kinds of games of chance were to be found--three card monte, keno, faro, roulette and poker. Close by were the "hurdy-gurdies," where the music from asthmatic pianos timed the dancing of painted, padded and leering Aspasias, too hideous to hope for a livelihood in any village less remote from civilization."

     ..."the general tone of the place was one of good order and law, to which vice and immorality must bow.

In Oct 1876, Sol Star becomes Deadwood City Councilman ["The Black Hills Pioneer'].

In 1877, in an article entitled, "A Trip to the Black Hills," Leander P. Richardson describes Deadwood as follows:
      "Buildings, known as 'ranches'abound along the lines of all the stage and freight roads in the Black Hills, forming a peculiar phase of frontier life. They are hotels, bar-rooms, and stores for general merchandise, all combined in one, and the whole business is usually transacted in a single room. In fact, but few of them can boast of more than one apartment. At any of these places, a traveler can purchase almost anything, from a glass of whisky to a four-horse team, but the former article is usually the staple of demand.

     Down the side of a steep hill the road wound its way into the lower end of Deadwood Gulch. The gulch is about ten miles long, and very winding in its course. Through its bottom stretches a long line of shanties and tents, forming in all, four towns. At the lower end is Montana City, then come Elizabeth Town, Deadwood City, and Gayeville (or Gaye City). Our train finally halted in Deadwood City, and we were immediately surrounded by a crowd of miners, gamblers and other citizens, all anxious to hear from the outer world. It was Sunday afternoon, and all the miners in the surrounding neighborhoods were spending the day in town. The long street was crowded with men in every conceivable garb. Taken as a whole, I never in my life saw so many hardened and brutal-looking men together, although of course there were a few better faces among them. Every alternate house was a gambling saloon, and each of them was carrying on a brisk business. In the middle of the street a little knot of men had gathered, and were holding a prayer-meeting, which showed in sharp contrast to the bustling activity of wickedness surrounding it. [He goes on to describe meeting Charley Utter and Wild Bill Hickock].

My stay in the Deadwood region was of five days' duration. The mines now in operation are all gluch, or sluice mines, although prospecting for quartz mining is constantly going on. Five or six, possibly ten, mines in the whole region pay from $200 to $2,000 per day. The largest amount I saw taken from any one excavation in a single day was $1,085, which was the result of the work of seven men employed by the owner. The average Deadwood gluch mine will just about pay "grub," and those that pay good living wages are rare. Seven out of every ten men in the whole region have no money and no means of getting any. The Deadwood ground is all taken up, and men do not dare to go out prospecting away from the main body, on account of the Indians. Summed up briefly, the condition of mining affairs is this: placer mines all taken up; quartz mines the only resource left. In order to work these, capital, machinery and mills for the crushing of ore must be introduced. Men of wealth will hesitate about sending capital into a country so far from a railroad, communication, and about which so little is definitely known. Most of the men now in the Black Hills are laboring men, inexperienced as miners. Their chances for employment in the mines, then, are small, and their prospects in quartz mining are even poorer. The mineral riches of the Black Hills cannot be developed for fully twenty-five years to come. So far no great success has followed the best efforts; what future work will bring forth is a matter of uncertainty, of course, but there seems little reason for prophesying anything remarkable.

     Farming there is out of the question. Throughout a great part of the district heavy frosts begin in September; snow-storms did not cease last spring until the eleventh day of June. Every farmer will see what a country where winter reigns from September to June cannot support its inhabitants upon its agricultural products. It follows, then, that the necessaries of life must always be imported at immense cost. There is to be considered the collateral fact that during a greater part of this long season of ice and snow, placer-miners cannot work. Men can earn enough money in two months of labor to subsist with profit through ten months of idleness? It is asserted by miners and engineers, grown gray in experience, that a region where mining cannot be carried on at least seven months out of every twelve, can never be of any permanent value to its operators.

     I have no hesitation in saying that i think the Black Hills will eventually prove a failure. The trip thence would be a severe trial for most men, even if the danger of being murdered were removed. At present the journey is exceedingly dangerous, and if by good fortune the gold-hunter succeeeds in surviving his hardships and getting through alive, his chances for success are few and his expenses necessarily will be large."

According to the "Black Hills Daily Pioneer" of Mar 17, 1877, Seth Bullock was appointed Sheriff.

May 1877 - Seth Bullock and Sol Star are County Commissions [from "Black Hills Pioneer," newspaper]

July 31, 1887 - Gem Saloon sold for back taxes.

Reportedly Isaac "Ike" Brown Brown and his partner, Craven Lee opened the first saloon in Deadwood. By July of 1877 there was over 75 saloons in Deadwood. Ike also opened a grocery store adjoining the saloon. Over the door of his Store/Saloon was conspicuously painted a crescent shaped sign " Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution." Again, reportedly Isaac Brown was the man who followed Jack McCall up Main Street, after he killed "Wild Bill Hickok," and took the him in custody. Ike took Jack to a cabin behind the saloon and locked him up to sleep off his alcohol. According to one web site, Judge Kuykendall who was asked to preside over the trial knew and trusted Isaac Brown. A web site states he appointed Ike as the first sheriff of Deadwood to guard Jack McCall and protect the Judge during the trial. [Note: actually this is not true, since according to local papers, Seth Bullock was appointed sheriff in March of the same year, 4 months earlier]

Lines of transportation were established from Laramie, Sidney, Fort Pierre and Bismark [mostly by stage coach and bull trains] and the population grew rapidly, despite the protest of the Indians and the war of that summer (1876). A treaty relinquishing the Hills was negotiated that autumn and proclaimed on Feb. 27, 1877, giving legal status to the white population and establishing courts and orderly government.

September 28, 1877 - Seth Bullock loses when he runs for sheriff [from "Black Hills Pioneer," newspaper] John Manning wins (see below).

An 1878 description of Deadwood is as follows:
The city of Deadwood is located at the northern extremity of the Black Hills, at the confluence of Deadwood and Whitewood Creeks, and about eight miles in the interior--or from the foothills where the latter stream enters the prarie. The position, while not at all eligible for a settlement of any kind, much less for a city of the pretensions of Deadwood, has been so improved by artificial means, that not only are a surprisingly large number of people housed within its limits, but the tout ensemble is very pleasing to the eye. Originally the narrow gulch admitted of but one strees, but excavations and cribbing have gradually added one after another until the entire north hill is now cut up into avenues, like steps, appropriately named, and lined with pretty little cottages and dwellings of more elaborate designs. The southern hill, owing to its abruptness, is valueless for building sites, and, with the exception of one or two crudely constructed log cabins, regular "old timers," which threaten to wreck themselves and residences below at any moment, its breast is bare and ininviting. The city proper, as generally understood (there is no legally defined limits), is about one mile long, and contains at the present time about six thousand inhabitants, the male portion being engaged almost exclusively in mercantile and other legitimate business pursuits. Deadwood, although not immediately at the mines, is universally
considered the metropolis of the Hills, being the county seat of Lawrence county, and having the land office, courts, banks, express offices, stage headquarters, signal service station, and commission houses--conveniences found nowhere else in the hills--and in addition contains many large jobbing houses, retail stores of every description; two excellent hotels; two daily, one weekly, and one semi-monthly papers; two churches--Congregational and Catholic schools; the telegraph; a fire department; efficient constabulary force; a large and most excellent society that is daily increasing; and all the concomitants of a well regulated and prosperous community. Three daily mails, a money order post office, the telegraph and banks, present facilities for conducting business, equal with those elsewhere enjoyed. Comfortable dwellings, marts of trade of all kinds, keeping stocks of graded qualities to suit the tastes and purses of every one, the poor as well as the rich; a charming climate, plenty of vigorous exercise and universal prosperity, makes life in the Hills both pleasant and healthful.

Deadwood as originally constructed was chiefly composed of buildings of pine logs or flimsy board structures common to mining camps. A great population had crowded into the narrow gulch and there was a large accumulation of personal property.

July 1, 1879 - Sol Star becomes postmaster of Deadwood [from "Black Hills Pioneer" newspaper]

At 2 o'clock in the morning of September 26, 1879, the great mass of flammable material [reportedly starting in Mrs. Ellsnera's Bakery on Sherman Street]. Reportedly the fire spread to a nearby hardware store, and eight kegs of gunpowder blew up turning the town into a furnace. The fire apparatus was destroyed before the firemen could reach it and the city was left utterly at the mercy of the flames. There was little insurance.

Three hundred buildings were destroyed and two thousand people were left homeless. Fortunately there was no loss of life. With the courage of pioneers the citizens at once rebuilt, laying the foundation of the Deadwood that endures. (Note: the new houses were built from brick or stone, rather than wood, to help prevent further devastating fires).

In 1880 the sheriff of Deadwood was a John. J. Manning, with his brother Thomas and cousin John acting as deputies.
1880 United States Federal Census > Dakota Territory > Lawrence > Deadwood Township (District 120)

Manning, John J. W M 36 Sheriff, Ireland, SC, NY
Manning, Frankie W F 18 wife Keeping House, Colorado, Ohio, --
Manning, Frankie W F 2 daughter, Dakota
Manning, Mary J. W F 25 sister, Wisconsin -- --
Manning, Thomas W M 45 brother, deputy sheriff, Ireland -- --
Manning, John P. W M 25 cousin, deputy sheriff, Wisconsin, Ireland, Ire
Manning, Pat W M 22 cousin, Wisconsin, Ireland, Ire

May, 1884 - Sol Star wins election, and becomes Mayor of Deadwood [From "Black Hills Pioneer," newspaper]

May 1885 - Sol Star badly crippled with rheumatism [From "Black Hills Pioneer," newspaper]

The Chicago and Northwestern railroad reached the Black Hills, via Northern Nebraska in 1886 and was completed into Deadwood in 1890.

In April, 1892, Antoinette Ogden described her recent trip to Deadwood, in a published article as follows:
"We traverse into another geological zone. We are gradually losing the pines too. Within some twenty miles of Deadwood the Hills are entirely bare, shorn to supply the great reduction works with fuel. The streams that come tumbling toward us are all of a reddish-brown, like liquid elay. They have been interrupted in their course, and this is the way they have returned to their beds, after a whirl through the great mills and a close contact with gold.

Deadwood, the great mining centre of the Hills, lies in the deep gulches of the Whitewood and the Deadwood creeks. It has been twice destroyed: once by fire in 1879, when property to the extent of a million and a half is said to have evaporated in pine smoke; then again in 1883, when abnormal snows
and rains sent the mountain streams down the gulches in torrents; and strange to say, it was both times rebuilt upon its original site, with the main street running down the gulch, and the cross-streets scrambling up the hillsides, over the very ground where the minders of 1876 staked their claims and panned out their gold. The wild days of the history of Deadwood are included between 1877 and 1885, the days of "excitements," of "hurdy-gurdies," and the hazing of the "tenderfoot;" for, although the town was incorporated as a city in 1880, its mining-camp character disappeared totally only several years after that time.

From 1876 to 1877 the pioneers may have said to have fought the grizzly and the elements. The striking feature of Deadwood today is its decorousness, at least its outward decorousness. It is, perhaps, that of the blase, who has had his fill of the kind of excitement which finds a vent in noise and thrills. Be this as it may, the streets of this town of men, and of men more or less bent on the same pursuit, and breathing an atmosphere avowedly intoxicating, are as quiet by night as they are by day. The advent of two railroads, with their narrow gauges to Lead City and Bald Mountains, their spurs up every gluch and to the very dumps of nearly every mind, absorbing all the traffic formerly done by ox-teams, drays, and stages, has cleared the streets of much noise and incumbrance, but also of much local color. In such towns as this the typical disappears with the lawless.

July 1892 - Sol Star leaves Deadwood to visit Minneapolis, MN where he will attend the Republican National Convention.

August 1, 1903 - "Calamity Jane" Cannary Burk dies in nearby Terry, S.D. She is buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery, next to "Wild Bill" Hickok.

Oct 10, 1917 - Sol Star dies. He is buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery.

September 23, 1919 - Seth Bullock dies. He is buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery.

Deadwood Today
[From Deadwood.org] In the late 1980s, visitors to the town of Deadwood discovered boarded-up storefronts, crumbling facades and a community with a once proud past that was slowly suffering from the ravages of time. That was before an unlikely benefactor-- limited stakes gaming - gave Deadwood a new lease on life and fueled the transformation of an entire town.

More than a decade and $150 million later, Deadwood ranks as the largest restoration and preservation project ever undertaken in the U.S. This is the community of 1,300 residents that decided to save itself. Today, Victorian facades, brick streets, period lighting and colorful trolleys greet visitors to this, one of the few communities in America listed as a National Historic Landmark.

The average summer temperature is 68° F; the average winter temperature is 24° F. A short car-trip away from Deadwood is Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument, Badlands National Park, Devil's Tower, and Harney Peak, the highest mountain east of the Rockies. Nearby Rapid City, also founded in 1876, is the county seat and home to Ellsworth Air Force Base. It's the second-largest city in South Dakota, and its major economic activities include mining, lumber, and agriculture. The cost of living in Deadwood is low while good jobs in the gaming and tourism industry are plentiful.

Official City of Deadwood Web Site

Map of Deadwood - from Mapquest

SEE Photographs of Deadwood, old and current

LIVE WEB CAM of Deadwood

Deadwood Chamber of Commerce

The Black Hills

The Black Hills are an isolated mass of elevations, about one hundred and twenty miles in extent, from northwest to southwest, with an average width of fifty miles, their area being not less than 6,000 square miles. They are so called from the sombre aspect they present from a distant view, caused by the vast evergreen forests of pine with which they are generally clothed. Many are still ignorant of their geographical position, often confounding them with the two mountain districts of the same designation south of the Platte river, in Southeastern Wyoming. According to the latitudinal lines, they are about sixty miles noth and a little over eight hundred miles west of Chicago, and are situated between two forks of the Cheyenne river, which surround them so completely that both these streams have their origin in the same locality, and their head waters interlock. The north current is called the Belle Fourche, or Beautiful Fork. The highest peaks are from 5,600 to 8,000 feet high.

Source: The golden Northwest by Goldsmith B. West, Chicago, Rollins Publishing Co., 1878, page 99-100.

Links about Deadwood

HBO: "Deadwood" (main web site)

History Link - the History of Deadwood

Deadwood South Dakota - Wikipedia

15 Fascinating Facts about HBO's Deadwood

Information Sources:

1. History of the Dakota Territory, by George W. Kingsbury; Chicago, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company; 1915, Page 929
Doane Robinson's encyclopedia of South Dakota; Pierre: The author, 1925, page 74, 158, 1009
The golden Northwest : a historical, statistical and descriptive account of northern by Goldsmith B. West; Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Dakota, Montana and Manitoba; Chicago: Rollins Pub. Co., 1878, 131 pgs.
4. "A Trip to the Black Hills," by Leander P. Richardson: pp. 748-756; Scribners monthly, an illustrated magazine for the people; Volume 13, Issue 6; publisher, Scribner and son, published April 1877; New York
6. "A Drive through the Black Hills" by Antionette Ogden: pp. 449-462, The Atlantic monthly. Volume 69, Issue 414, published by Atlantic Monthly Co. in April 1892
Pa-ha-sa-pah, Or, The Black Hills of South Dakota, by Peter Rosen, published 1895

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