Deadwood sign

You may have heard of Deadwood, South Dakota, from the HBO series. The entire town (pop.: 1380) is a National Historic Landmark and it’s filled with beautiful old architecture.

Deadwood hotel

Ayres block


Deadwood started out as a mining town after a miner named John B. Pearson found gold in a narrow canyon in the Black Hills in 1875. The canyon became known as “Deadwood Gulch,” because of all the dead trees in the canyon.

General George A. Custer led a government-sponsored expedition to confirm the presence of gold in the Black Hills. The U.S. government tried to hide the discovery from the general public in order to honor the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which forever ceded the Black Hills to the Lakota-Sioux Indians. But miners entered the area illegally and the 1876 Gold Rush was on.

In 1890, the railroad brought people to the area from various areas. Chinese immigrants were among those building the railroad. Hundreds of Chinese came to the Black Hills and worked on the railroad or in the mines. By the end of the 1880s, Deadwood had a Chinatown, which was at the northern end of present-day Main Street.

Deadwood street

In Deadwood, the Wild West theme is everywhere.


In 1988, a gaming issue initiative was put on the state ballot and passed. Kevin Costner, who directed and starred in Dances With Wolves (filmed in the Black Hills and Wyoming) owns a casino, the Midnight Star. . . .

Midnight Star

You can see memorabilia from Costner’s movies throughout the casino and restaurant.

Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back of the head by Jack McCall in Deadwood’s Saloon No. 10 while playing poker. This is re-enacted every day during tourist season.

Hickok is buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery, just outside of town.

Wikipedia image

Calamity Jane, another colorful character from that era, is buried next to Hickok, at her request. There were rumors of a romance between the two, but they were never substantiated.

Google image

Doris Day starred in the movie Calamity Jane, but I’m not sure about the resemblance.

Google image

Moving on. Leaving Deadwood, we saw a beautiful sunset. The sun lit up clouds in the East so they looked like pink cotton candy. Montana is called “Big Sky Country,” but I think South Dakota qualifies too.

sd sunset

I underestimated how many photos were left, so I’m breaking the last South Dakota post into two parts. Part II on Monday.

Great weekend, everyone!


About pearlsandprose

Photography. With a little life thrown in.
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14 Responses to Deadwood

  1. Cheryl says:

    Great photojournalism here Carole. You have a great weekend too.

  2. Ms. Spock says:

    Noticing the deep blue in the sky, before the “big Sky Country” sunset at the end: must’a’ been a magnificent day. I particularly like the down-the-block shot of all the store fronts, from Berg Jewelers to the Wild Bill Bar/Steakhouse and beyond — if only the 21st century minivans/SUVs werent’ there! Great photos, all around . . .

  3. Susan says:

    Hope we can drive up to Deadwood for a quick visit during our stay in SD next summer ! I’t been a long time since our last trip but I have fond memories of Deadwood – Ryan was 4 and Niles was 7!

  4. Caroline says:

    I didn’t even know a town with that name really existed. So picturesque. I like that door with the revolvers.
    I wouldn’t have seen that’s the photo of a woman if you hadn’t written that it’s Calamity Jane.
    The vastness on that last shot is amazing.

    • Yes, Calamity Jane dressed in men’s clothes and smoked cigars. She appeared in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show as a horse rider and a trick shooter, so she was definitely unconventional for her time.

  5. Lady Jennie says:

    It’s so great to see this part of America as I’m not sure I’ll ever go.

    • It is kind of remote. Couldn’t believe how expensive it was to fly from Denver to Rapid City too (more than the Baltimore-Denver flight). Next time we’ll rent a car in Denver and drive.

  6. jacquelincangro says:

    Breathtaking sunset!
    I didn’t know that Deadwood was a real town. I’d seen a few episodes of the TV series. What a charming Main Street and gorgeous buildings. So well preserved.
    Can’t wait for your next post!

  7. Patti says:

    Gorgeous sky colors in even the daytime shots.

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