Deadwood South Dakota Tourism – Fans of the HBO show “Deadwood,” which ended a three-season run in 2006, are finally being rewarded with new content — “Deadwood: The Movie,” premiering this Friday. The show and movie (set 10 years after the final season). of the show) tells the world of the rough and tumble gold rush town of Deadwood, South Dakota, in the late 19th century, following characters such as Seth Bullock, Al Swearingen, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.
However, what some viewers don’t know is that these characters were real people and Deadwood is a real place. Although both the movie and the show were filmed in California, rather than South Dakota, critics have praised the series for its historical accuracy. The writers scoured historical materials such as newspapers and spoke to local museums to get the right timeline and setting for the shows. They followed the same process for the movie, but because the film takes place later with the same characters, it will probably take more liberties to fictionalize the town’s history.
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Celebrate the release of the movie by taking a self-guided tour of sites in historic Deadwood linked to characters you’ll recognize from the film. The city — a National Historic Landmark District on the state’s western border that is home to about 1,300 residents — is even hosting a special screening of the movie on May 31 at the Deadwood Mountain Grand Resort.
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Opened in 1878, this late-Victorian cemetery overlooks Deadwood Gulch—the narrow and steep ravine that runs alongside the town—from a plateau. It was the official resting place for the town until 1938, and still is if your family owns a plot there (otherwise residents are buried in Oakridge Municipal Cemetery a mile away). A smaller cemetery existed before Mount Moriah in nearby Whitewood Gulch, and Moriah was intended to replace it entirely. The first two buried in Mount Moriah in 1878 were James DeLong, a local miner who died when a huge mass of rock fell on him in the Pecacho Mine, and Yung Set, the first Chinese person to ‘ had a public funeral in the city. In the 1880s, the Chinese community made up a large part of Deadwood’s population, having originally come to the area to work in gold mines and on the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad.
Mount Moriah quickly became the burial ground for Deadwood’s group of convicts, bandits and celebrities. Wild Bill Hickok, a famous Wild West frontiersman and gunslinger, was buried at Whitewood Gulch after being shot in a poker game at a saloon in town in 1876, but moved to Mount Moriah in 1879. Calamity Jane, a cowgirl known for her penchant for drinking, shooting and crossing, is buried next to him; A plaque at her grave says her dying wish was “Bury me next to Wild Bill”—and she was, against Hickok’s last wishes. The two had a brief friendship, and legend says she loved him, but he didn’t love her back. The grave of Seth Bullock, the first sheriff of Deadwood, is set back from the rest of the cemetery, on a steep hill overlooking a monument he built for his friend, President Theodore Roosevelt.
Seth Bullock was first and foremost an entrepreneur. When he moved to the city in 1876, he started a new hardware store with his business partner, Sol Star. Unfortunately for the duo, the store burned down. They rebuilt—and then that hardware store burned down, too. After the second fire, Bullock had a new business idea: he would open a large luxury hotel in the place where his hardware store once stood.
The Bullock Hotel opened in 1895 with three floors (each with a bathroom), 65 rooms and steam heat. It quickly became the pinnacle of luxury in town. The hotel is still open today, now with 28 rooms and a 24-hour casino on site. According to legend, the ghost of Seth Bullock himself still roams the halls. Guests claim to have seen him walking the halls and the basement, smelled his cigar smoke, and even seen his reflection in mirrors and his name on a wall in water. Apparently it’s so spooky that “Unsolved Mysteries” did a segment on the show in the 1990s.
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In 1874, Horatio Ross, a soldier on an expedition with General George Custer, discovered gold in nearby French Creek, launching a gold rush to the area that helped develop and populate the town. Four years later, business partners Olaf Seim and James Nelson arrived in Deadwood and dug Seim’s Mine—the property that would become today’s Broken Boot Gold Mine. The mine was profitable, but not because of gold. Seim and Nelson could only muster about 15,000 ounces of the stuff in the 26 years it operated. They actually made all their money from fools gold, or iron pyrite, which was also found in the mine and used to make sulfuric acid. But no metal could sustain operations, and the mine closed in 1904.
In 1954, Olaf Seim’s daughter Seima Hebert, who owned the mine, leased it to a group of Deadwood businessmen who wanted to turn it into a tourist attraction. During the renovation, they found an old mining boot, prompting them to rename the property Broken Boot Gold Mine. Today, visitors can learn about the Black Hills Gold Rush that founded Deadwood, tour the tunnels and pan for (clown) gold.
W. E. Adams was a pioneering businessman, a six-term mayor of Deadwood, and fabulously wealthy. In 1920, he bought a Queen Anne-style mansion built in 1892 by pioneers Harris and Anna Franklin, complete with stained glass windows, hand-painted canvas, plumbing, electricity and a telephone. The house (now known as the Adams House) quickly became the epicenter of Deadwood’s rich and famous—Adams and his wife hosted parties with full bands and guest lists packed with influencers. Seth Bullock and his wife attended a party there at least once and presented the Adams couple with a pair of silver candlesticks with onyx bases. W. E. died in 1934 and his wife left the house, leaving everything intact. It sat for 50 years before the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission bought it and turned it into a museum.
Nearby, in 1930, Adams opened the Adams Museum to help document and preserve the history of Deadwood. The three-story museum is the oldest history museum in the Black Hills and features artifacts from some of Deadwood’s most famous residents. Some highlights include two now stuffed dogs that arrived in Deadwood on Hickok’s wagon train, the maps Hickok was holding when he was shot, a portrait of Calamity Jane and a N.C. Wyeth sketch of Hickok.
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On August 2, 1876, Jack McCall at Nuttall and Mann’s Saloon no. 10 walked in and shot Wild Bill Hickok in the back of the head, killing him instantly. The two had met the night before—McCall, a thick-haired local who no one really knew much about except that he loved to drink, joined a game with Hickok and lost horribly, completely ruining the night ended broken. Hickok gave McCall money for dinner and advice on playing poker, and the two parted ways. The next day, Hickok went back to the saloon to join another game. He wanted to sit facing the door as usual, but no one would move for him, so he sat with his back to it against better judgment. McCall later arrived and shot Hickok, yelling, “Damn it, take it!” He tried to flee, but was caught outside the saloon and tried in a “miner’s court”, a trial with no legal standing. He was found not guilty. McCall immediately left Deadwood, but continued to brag about killing Hickok wherever he went—eventually arrested for the crime and sentenced to death.
Nuttall and Mann’s sadly no longer exists – it burnt down in 1879 with much of the town centre. A new Saloon no. 10 has been in operation across the street from the original location since the 1960s, now occupied by a bar, boutique and ice cream parlor called Wild Bill’s Trading Post. A memorial outside the trading post marks the site of Hickok’s murder. Jack McCall’s trial is reenacted in a family-friendly play, aptly named “The Trial of Jack McCall,” which runs every Monday through Saturday night from May through September in front of Saloon no. 10 and then take place at the Historic Masonic Temple on Main Street. . Performances began in the mid-1920s and have continued ever since, making it one of the longest-running plays in the country.
Seth Bullock and the Society of Black Hills Pioneers built the Friendship Tower, also known as Mount Roosevelt, in 1919 as a monument to Bullock’s friendship with Teddy Roosevelt. The two met on the road in the mid-1880s while Bullock was arresting a horse thief – although the actual year they met is a bit muddy, as Bullock liked to add his friend to stories to add whether he was there or not. Their friendship grew during the Spanish-American War, and by 1900 Bullock was campaigning with Roosevelt. As soon as Roosevelt became president, he appointed Bullock superintendent of the Black Hills Forest Reserve and United States Marshal.
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