Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Dead In Deadwood

Deadwood, South Dakota practically boasts of the 1876 murder of Wild Bill Hickok that occurred during the area's gold rush.

Hickok was playing poker in the boomtown's Saloon No. 10 when a ne'er-do-well named Jack McCall shot him in the back of the head. Legend says the one-time marshal and Army scout was holding the winning hand when he died, a hand composed of the nine of diamonds, a pair of eights and a pair of aces. 

This combination of cards is now forever known as the deadman's hand.

Friday Tim and I stopped in Deadwood, SD, so named for the dead timber on the surrounding hills, enroute from the Black Hills to Devil's Tower in Wyoming. Finding a parking spot for the Dawntreader, our RV, turned out to be more of a problem than we were led to believe. The lady at the town's Chamber of Commerce to whom Tim spoke earlier in the week said we could park at the Rodeo grounds, but she failed to mention the Trike Bike (three-wheeled motorcycles, to the uninitiated) Rally that would overtake the grounds for the weekend. 

Consequently, we were in a tight spot when we turned into the gates. Backing up the bus requires unhitching the Jeep we tow, a hassle we were set upon until the business owner next door hurried out to invite us to park at the side of her establishment.  Whew!  Crisis averted!

With the Dawntreader safely moored, we embarked on our exploration of the town. 

Left, Wild Bill Hickok; right, Calamity Jane

First, we hiked up Mount Moriah to the cemetery where we paid our respects not only to Hickok but also to Calamity Jane. She worked on a bull train, performed in a Wild West show and, considering her mannish appearance, was a prostitute of little repute.  It was Calamity's dying wish that she be buried by Hickok's side.  One can only wonder what the elegant and fastidious Wild Bill would have said of her interment. 

A overlook at the cemetery's summit allowed us to gaze down on the town and get our bearings. 

We knew we wanted to see the Adams Museum.  

Another attraction on my list was the Pump House at Mind Blown Studio where tourists could order breakfast or later sandwiches; then, settle at tables in the former Texaco gas station where they could watch a glassblower ply her trade. 

We also strolled down historic Main Street with its 19th-century buildings, saloons and souvenir shops.  Inspecting the Trike Bikes that lined the curb was also fun. 

Finally, Deadwood has been resurrected in the last decade, thanks to the state's legalization of gambling. It's the same prospect of riches that lured prospectors and gamblers more than a century ago that continues to draw throngs of visitors to Deadwood's casinos today.  Zombie-like men and women with distant eyes sit at slots, feeding dollar bills into the machines' maw.  It made me think of the walking dead.  

Nevertheless, Tim had a try and lost all two dollars he'd wagered. 

Easy come, easy go!  And on that note, I'll say, "Goodbye, Deadwood!"


  1. Lyle lives in Deadwood now. Randy & Kathy and her girls went to visit him a year ago, but I didn't get to go, so thanks for the tour.

  2. I didn't realize that was Lyle's home. It's a quaint western town that you would enjoy. I hope you're able to accompany Randy next time.