First, if you find the history of trains fascinating and you haven’t had a chance to read my article on Railroads Building the West, I invite you to visit Anna Markland’s site http://www.annamarkland.com/railroads-building-the-west-by-judy-baker/.
The U.S. Government signed a treaty, giving the Black Hills ownership to the Lakota Sioux nation in 1868, ultimately leading to the US Cavalry killing 146 men, women and children near Wounded Knee Creek, which brought the Indian wars to an end. In 1874 gold was discovered in the Black Hills opening the door to miners rushing across a gulch filled with gold, hence, Deadwood was born. Overnight, the town boomed into a lawless, gold seekers’ utopia, attracting gamblers, outlaws, and gunslingers.
One famous gunslinger was Wild Bill Hickok, looking for his fortune like everyone that rode into Deadwood. Along with him came Calamity Jane, a beer guzzling, foul-mouthed woman, spitting tobacco and wearing men’s clothing. Rumor was, she claimed to be in love with Wild Bill. Anyway, that’s another story in its own.
High above the Black Hills of Deadwood is Mount Moriah Cemetery, well worth a visit. Both Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried there, as well as other legends that left their legacies in the tiny Black Hills town of Deadwood. One person being, Jack McCall, the infamous murderer in Deadwood. As the story goes, McCall was drinking in the Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon where Hickok was playing cards. Without hesitating, he walked up and shot Wild Bill Hickok in the back of the head, shouting, “Damn you! Take that!”
There’s a reenactment of the killing of Hickok and the capture of McCall during the summer evenings in Deadwood.
Buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery high above Deadwood.
Deadwood barely survived three fires that nearly turned it into an Old West Ghost Town. When gambling was legalized in 1989, Deadwood was once again reborn.
During the old western days, Deadwood was famous for its gold-filled creeks and gambling halls, including its hospitality. Prospecting and prostitution went hand and hand. Arriving in Deadwood via a wagon train was the infamous Madams Mustache and Dirty Em. The entire town folks lined the streets, clapping when the wagons rolled through. Brothels occupied the town of Deadwood until 1980. Federal authorizes shut down the remaining brothels, but not without a protest from the local supporters by a Main Street parade like the one the old timers gave Madam Mustache and Dirty Em.
There was a series on HBO called “Deadwood” that ran for three seasons. This show portrayed life during the harsh, early days of Deadwood.
Have you been to Deadwood? Or, the Black Hills of Dakota? What did you think about the HBO series “Deadwood”? I'd love to hear from you,