city in and county seat of Lawrence County, South Dakota, United States

Deadwood is a town in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is rivaled only by Tombstone, Arizona as America's most storied town from the wild frontier days.

Understand edit

Dead man's hand

In 1876 "Wild Bill" Hickok, a legendary gunfighter, was shot in the back of his head while he was playing poker. Legend has it that Hickok was unable to find a seat in the parlor where his back would be against a wall, thus preventing any sneak attacks from behind. As a result he sat with his back to the door and was later killed by Jack McCall. Legend has it that Wild Bill's hand when he was murdered was a pair of aces and eights, a hand that has become known as the Dead man's hand due to Hickok's unfortunate luck. The fifth card is a matter of debate, with some people claiming that it had not been dealt or that it was possibly a five or nine of diamonds.

In 1874, famed Army commander George Custer led an expedition into the area and announced that he and his men had discovered gold nearby, in what is today Custer, South Dakota. Two years later brothers Charlie and Steve Utter led a wagon train into Deadwood containing essential business supplies - prostitutes and cards - which led to a boost in industries such as booze, gambling parlors, and brothels. During this time notorious gunfighter "Wild Bill" Hickok helped the Utter brothers by scouting out any troubles the train might encounter. That same year "Wild Bill" was shot in the head while playing poker at the Saloon No. 10. His killer, "the coward Jack McCall", was captured, tried by a group of miners, freed, re-captured, re-tried by a court, and hanged. Legal proceedings have, thankfully, grown somewhat more standardized in the years since that famous crime.

Historical marker, Deadwood

Another legendary event was the Horsemeat March of 1876, in which General Cook led an expedition pursuing a band of Sioux natives fleeing the site of Custer's last stand, the Battle of Little Bighorn. General Cook and his men set off in pursuit with reduced rations in order to give a quicker chase, but they did not predict that the Sioux would burn the grass behind them. As a result, both the horses and the men had no food and the men eventually were forced to shoot their own horses for food.

Two major fires struck the town in the late 19th century. In 1879, nearly the entire town burned to the ground, including the popular brothel known as the Gem Theater. The owner, Al Swearengen, rebuilt the Gem bigger and more extravagantly than its predecessor. The town lost many of its residents, itinerant miners whose only possessions were destroyed in the fire, but Deadwood eventually recovered. Swearengen's command of vice led him into conflict with Sheriff Seth Bullock, a stern Western lawman and another of the town's earliest residents. The town began to flourish again, but was devastated once more by fire in 1894. Sheriff Bullock and some of the other residents stayed and rebuilt even stronger than before, but this time, Swearengen left town. He was last seen as a penniless drunk, killed while trying to catch a train to Colorado.

The town's storied history was the inspiration for the HBO hit TV series Deadwood, which centered around Bullock, Swearengen, and the struggles of Deadwood to rise from a lawless miners' camp to a community and a civilization. The show incorporates many of the town's early residents and events including the depiction of a man who survived for half-an-hour after being shot in the head by a prostitute.

In 1989, Deadwood legalized gambling, making it the third place in the United States to legalize gambling after Atlantic City and the state of Nevada, albeit at more limited stakes than its predecessors.

Keep in mind that despite its high aspirations, Deadwood is still a very small town (fewer than 2,000 people) in a sparsely populated area.

Get in edit

Deadwood in the 21st century

Deadwood lies 42 miles northwest of Rapid City on US Route 14A. If you're driving from Rapid City you'll need to follow I-90 to Sturgis and merge onto US Route 14A West and drive for 12 miles before arriving in Deadwood.

If you're coming from Wyoming on I-90, take exit 17 towards Deadwood and drive for 8 miles to get into town.

Deadwood and the Black Hills area are best traveled by car (or horse), but Airport Express (605-399-9999), Discovery Tours (1-888-524-5655) and Dakota Taxi (605-920-2020) can provide transportation from the Rapid City airport.

  • Prairie Hills Transit. Offers 1 way and round trip transportation to and from Rapid City for $15 1 way and $22 R/T

Get around edit

Most of the restaurants, hotels, shops and sights are located on Main Street, within easy reach of each other on foot (save for snowstorms). Free parking is available in the lot on Sherman Street which is a few blocks from main street, but there is metered parking scattered throughout most of the town as well. There is also a parking garage near main street. A trolley service runs Sunday-Thursday 7AM to 1:30AM and Friday & Saturday 7AM to 3AM for most of the year, but Sunday-Thursday hours are reduced to 8AM to 12:00 midnight during the winter. The cost is very cheap at $1 per ride.

The Visitors Bureau (767 Main Street, +1-800-999-1876) has maps and the usual array of tour brochures. They're also available at the History and Information Center on Sherman Street.

Driving in Deadwood is fairly easy, as the streets are lightly trafficked and all of the sights are either on Main Street or clearly marked. Deadwood winters can be very severe, however, so if you want to rent a car in the winter months (Late September-Late April, with snow still being possible as late as May and even June) be sure it can get around.

Rushmore Segway offers guided, 90-minute Segway tours of the town. The tour office is located at the Days of '76 Rodeo grounds.

See edit

  • 1 Adams House Museum, 22 Van Buren Ave, +1 605 578-3724. Daily 9AM-5PM. Built by the Franklins, this Queen-Anne styled mansion is nearly perfectly preserved since being purchased by W.E. Adams. Tours are about half an hour. $5.    
  • Adams Museum, 54 Sherman St, +1 605 578-1714. Summer (May 1 - September 30): daily 9AM to 5PM. Winter hours (October 1 - April 30): Tu-Sa 10AM to 4PM During the winter the museum is closed Sundays, Mondays and winter holidays. Free admission, however a $3 per adult, $2 per child is encouraged.
  • 2 Mount Moriah Cemetery, 1 Mount Moriah Dr, +1 605 578-2600. Memorial Day to mid-October: 8AM-6PM, visitors center 9AM-5PM. Cemetery open in winter with limited maintenance. Overlooking the town from a steep hill to the north, Mount Moriah offers remarkable views of the area and the entire town, as well as the graves of Wild Bill, Calamity Jane and a few lesser-known luminaries from the Old West. (Seth Bullock's grave lies on a hill above the rest, a quiet ten minute climb away.) It is a well-kept cemetery with a beautiful cover of trees. Mount Moriah can be reached on foot from the town, although it's a steep climb. Maps are available at the gate. $2.    
  • Celebrity Memorabilia, 629 Main St (Located in the Celebrity Hotel & Casino), +1 605 578-1909. This museum has collected celebrity memorabilia including movie props, musical instruments, and a few cars. Free admission.
    Tatanka: Story of the Bison
  • 3 Tatanka: Story of the Bison, Highway 85 (one mile north of Deadwood), +1 605 584-5678, fax: +1 605 578-2070, . May 15 - September 30: 9AM - 5PM. Tatanka explores the history of the North American buffalo, which at one time had a population in excess of 30 million, but by the close of the 19th century the bison population was estimated at only 1,000. Daily passes: senior (65+) $6.50; adult (12+ years) $12; child (6-12 years) $5; children (5 years and under) free.
  • Days of '76 Museum, 18 Seventy Six Drive, +1-605-578-1657. The museum honors Deadwood's pioneers and the "Days of '76" rodeo and parade held in Deadwood since 1924. Adults $6, children 7-13 $3, children 6 & under free.
  • Broken Boot Gold Mine, Upper Main Street, +1 605-578-1876, . Memorial Day weekend-Labor Day: 8AM-6PM.
  • The Brothel Deadwood, 610 Main St, +1 605-559-0231. Tour a historic brothel and learn about an industry that operated illegally, but fairly openly, in Deadwood from 1876 until they were all closed in a raid by federal agents in 1980. Rooms have period-appropriate furnishings. You must be at least 16 to enter. $15/person.

Do edit

  • Historic Ghost Tour (Historic Bullock Hotel), 633 Main St. Participate in this famous historic Ghost Tour hosted by costumed reenactors portraying Sheriff Seth Bullock or his wife, Martha. $5.
  • Deadwood Recreation and Aquatic Center, 105 Sherman St, +1 605-578-3729.

Gambling edit

Many of the hotels, bars and restaurants offer gambling, although that may range from a row of slot machines to private poker and blackjack rooms, depending on the quality of the establishment. Most casinos also offer free food and drinks so long as you're gambling (or at least looking like you are).

Buy edit

Eat edit

Drink edit

Every Casino in Deadwood serves alcohol, as well as many of the restaurants. The following are the places primarily frequented for their nightlife.

  • 1 Old Style Saloon # 10, 657 Main St, +1 605 578-3346. The Saloon number ten features a 40-foot long Brunswick bar. The walls are adorned with historical artifacts and oddities, and there is always fresh sawdust on the floor.    
  • [+1 605-578-3476 Deadwood Station Bunkhouse & Gambling Hall], 68 Main St, +1 605-578-3476. bar with pizza.
Mannequins above the Wild Bill Bar
  • Oggies Sports Bar and Emporium, 100 Pine Crest Ln (The Lodge at Deadwood), toll-free: +1-877-393-5634. Oggies was designed for service and fun. They offer competitve spirits with pool tables and darts. For the sports nuts they have 10 large high-definition flat screen televisions always tuned in for non stop sports.

Sleep edit

  • Barefoot Resort, 21111 Barefoot Loop Lead (Outside of Lead on Nevada Gulch Road going towards Terry Peak Ski Area.), toll-free: +1-800-424-0225. This resort has two pools, three hot tubs, two exercise rooms, saunas, and a sports court for basketball tennis, and volleyball. This resort offers hotel rooms and condominiums. With timeshare options available. This resort is owned by RCI and a RCI memberships are available for added benefits.
  • Cadillac Jack's Gaming Resort, 360 Main St, +1 605 578-1500. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. All rooms include in-room coffee, microwaves, refrigerators, safes, HBO, and High Speed Wireless Internet access. Enjoy the indoor pool, hot tub, steam room, guest laundry, and free parking during your stay. Brown Rock Sports Cafe offers a breakfast buffet, lunch, and dinner daily.
  • Deadwood Gulch Gaming Resort, 304 Cliff on Hwy 85 South, toll-free: +1-800-695-1876. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Nessled in the pines beside Whitewood Creek, just one mile from Main Street. Deadwood Trolley service from our front door. Convention facilities available. Range from $39 to $169, depending on the season and room.
  • Lodge at Deadwood, 100 Pine Crest, toll-free: +1-866-290-2403. The Lodge at Deadwood is one of the newer hotel and casinos. It offers 270 different slot machines, 12 card tables on the main floor and the Rounders Poker Room. It is recommended casino participants take part in the Club 76 priority membership. Random drawings and rewards are only given to those who are using their rewards cards. They also offer a variety of packages throughout the year to those wanting more than just a hotel room.
  • Celebrity Hotel, 629 Main St, toll-free: +1-888-399-1886. Has a Hollywood theme. starting at $100.

Budget edit

Mid-range edit

Bullock Hotel

Splurge edit

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Cope edit

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Routes through Deadwood
BelfieldSpearfish  N   S  LeadCheyenne
END  N   S  CusterChadron

This city travel guide to Deadwood is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.