Sunday, July 23, 2017

2017 July 22nd - Visit to Deadwood, S. D.

Actually, two nights ago we met two couples who were travelling together in two RVs, but the driver of one got sick with Vertigo, so they came to this campground to let him rest and do some sightseeing in a few days. Pete and Linda (Tiffin Phaeton diesel pusher) and Joe and Leslie (Holiday Rambler gas coach) are all from Florida, as well. Joe and Leslie have two dogs (Stryker and Lucky) which Leslie was taking them for a walk and we interrupted their walk due to wanting to fulfill our ‘dog fix’. After talking awhile, as we are all Floridians, Leslie continued with the dog walk and later came by again with her friend Linda. We got two more chairs out and offered them some wine, which one thing led to another and pretty soon it was dark and we were all enjoying an impromptu party. Pete (Linda’s husband) eventually came out to see where his wife had gone and joined us as well. Poor Joe was recuperating from his vertigo in his coach, though he did come by to say hello, and then returned to the peace and quiet of his RV. The party went on until midnight or so, when we all realized that it was way beyond “quiet hour” (usually 11:00pm)  so the party broke up for that reason.

Today, however, we drove to the town of Deadwood, which is important for several reasons, such as:

1)      The discovery of gold in the Black Hills in 1874 set off one of the last great gold rushes in the country. In 1876, miners moved into the northern Black Hills. That’s where they came across a gulch full of dead trees and a creek full of gold… and ‘Deadwood’ was born. Practically overnight the tiny gold camp boomed into a town that played by its own rules that attracted gamblers, outlaws and gunslingers, along with the gold seekers.

2)      James Butler ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok was one of those men who came looking for his fortune. Of course, by this time Wild Bill Hickcok had already established himself as an Old West folk hero, lawman and gunfighter.  He first gained gunfighter notoriety in 1861, when he single-handed killed three men, who were trying to kill him in a gunfight. A highly sensationalized account of that gunfight appeared in the ‘Harper’s New Monthly Magazine’ six years later (1867), which gave national rise to Hickok's fame. After accidentally killing  his deputy in a shootout in Abilene in 1871, Wild Bill Hickcok put away his guns and never fought in another gun battle ever again, living off his famous reputation, appearing as himself in the Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. He is also said to have worked as a guide/tracker for wealthy hunters. Finally, when his renowned good eyesight started failing him he was forced to wander the West trying to make his living as a gambler. It was just shortly after arriving in Deadwood, on August 2, 1876, that he was gunned down while holding a poker hand of a pair of black aces and eights… which forever thereafter has been known as the ‘Dead Man’s Hand’ in poker. At 4:15pm, Jack McCall, another gunfighter, reportedly walked into the bar where Wild Bill was playing poker with his back to the saloon entrance, and shot Wild Bill in the back of the head without a word. Wild Bill is said to have died instantly without knowing who shot him or why. McCall also tried to shoot others at the table and in the saloon, but either his gun was empty or his bullets were duds. McCall was later caught not too far in another bar, and eventually tried, convicted and hanged for Wild Bill's murder. During his trial McCall attested that he killed Wild Bill in revenge for Bill having killed his brother while he was a sheriff in Abilene.    

3)      Martha Jane Canary, or Cannary (better known as 'Calamity Jane') also made a name for herself. She was an American frontierswoman and professional scout, who is said to have acted and looked like a man, shoot like a cowboy, drink like a fish and exaggerate the tales of her life to any and all who would listen. However her accomplishments were many. She served as a Scout to Generals  George C. Custer, Nelson Miles and George Crook, but it was a Captain Egan who gave her the name "Calamity Jane... the heroine of the plains", in Fort Sanders, Wyoming (1873), after she saved his life, while riding point, when he was shot in an Indian ambush and she threw the injured captain on her horse and returned him to the fort at a gallop. Eventually, she traveled to Fort Laramie where she met Wild Bill Hickcok, who was traveling with Charlie Utter's wagon train to South Dakota. She was also known for her claims of being in a close relationship with Wild Bill Hickcok. Upon her death in August of 1903, though she died in Terry (not far from Deadwood) her last request was to be buried right next to Wild Bill Hickcok, in the Mount Moriah Cemetery, just outside of Deadwood (see map photo). Her last request included two things: 1) that if she died on Aug. 1, that it be recorded as Aug. 2 instead (that being the day that Wild Bill had been killed in 1876) and 2) that she be laid to rest right next to Wild Bill, who she always loved. She was granted both her requests and her funeral is said to have been the largest in the town of Deadwood.

4)      Nearly 50 years after the initial Gold Rush, John Perrett, panning for gold in Potato Creek, found a leg shaped gold nugget weighing about 7.5 troy oz and became known as Potato Creek Johnny, starting the last gold rush in the Black Hills; Seth Bullock (a Canadian-American 1880-1964 military Captain, statesman and lawman, was the first long-lived Sheriff credited with bringing lawfulness to the lawlessness that was Deadwood at that time. He arrived in Deadwood the day before Wild Bill was killed); Ellis Albert 'Al' Swearengen  (opened the Gem Theater in 1876 then lured desperate women and beat them up to force them into prostitution. This 'theater' was the source of all three Deadwood fires); Colorado Charlie Utter (best friend and companion of Wild Bill Hickcok), Jack McCall (who murdered 'Wild Bill'); Ethan Bennett 'E.B.' Farnum (one of the first citizens of Deadwood, owned and operated the General Store and was elected mayor); and others, also created their own legends and legacies in this tiny Black Hills town of the last gold rush days.

Deadwood has survived three major fires that all but burnt the whole town down (1879, 1894 and 1959, all started in the Gem Theater or aka Deadwood's house of prostitution) and numerous economic hardships pushing it to become yet another Old West ghost town; but in 1989 limited-wager gambling was legalized and the town of Deadwood was reborn.
 Today, there are gambling establishments everywhere, even in the hotels and motels and some stores and restaurants... and tee shirt/souvenir shops and bars. There is even a 4-floor parking garage for the influx of daily tourists. Being just a few miles from Sturgis, there are also many motorcyclists that visit Deadwood.

Some scenes of the road from Rapid City to Deadwood on I-90...

The entrance to Deadwood...
With Historic Main Street being the main attraction where the most
famous and infamous history of this Old West town took place.

This is Main Street, Deadwood, S.D.

T-shirts that Bill liked but couldn't find one in his color and size. 
Maybe Yellowstone will have the same graphic designs.

Having lunch at the Eagle Bar where we had a delicious Ranch Burger and sampled some local craft beers as suggested by our wonderful waitress, Bethany (below).

The Eagle Bar on Main Street           

Mustang Sally (Restaurant) on Main Street, with the 
4-level City Parking Garage in the background... highly recommended so your car does not get a bullet hole from a dual at High Noon. ;-)

Though of our friends, Brett and Susan Wickett, who well be meeting in Garryowen MT in a few weeks, for a week. It's not Climax guys, but its the thought that counts, right?

An 1879 building

The old train station (but the tracks are no longer there)

The first modern bank in Deadwood

How can it be the Best Rodeo, if there isn't even a Bull? ;-)

Actually, this was his first capture, but you have to remember that Deadwood was still 'lawless' in August 2, 1876, when Wild Bill Hickcok was murdered, so there was not much due process of Law. as it is recorded Jack McCall was arrested and put on trial bay a jury of his peers (ie. other outlaws from the area) and found not guilty, so he was released. Then later in Laramie, where the Law had a stronger foothold, where he was found again, again he was arrested, re-tried and this time convicted and hanged. So the 'Jeopardy' protections of the US Constitution (5th Amendment) which provides that "No person shall... be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb" was not enforced due to the lawlessness of this area. 

Mary said, "I'm glad we don't have to go up those stairs."

What Deadwood looked like in 1876.

 Stockade Bar - Restaurant with live music and great ambiance

One of the the re-enactments, which we caught a glimpse of as we were leaving; but they have gunfights on the street and in the bars, for the tourists.

One of the major hotels...

 Black Hills V.F.W.

The end of Main Street

A cool old building...

Leaving Deadwood to return to the campground via Highway 385

Scenes from the Pactola Lake (Reservoir), near Silver City, SD, in the Black Hills National Forest was created by the Pactola Dam, built in 1952.   

Contrary to popular folklore, there is not supposed to be any town at the bottom .

The Pactola Reservoir covers an area of  about 800 acres and has a depth of about 150-160 feet. 

It is the largest and deepest reservoir in the Black Hills. Record lake trout are caught each year.

 Fly fishing below the spillway is said to be exceptional.

All along the highway, motorists are warned of Bighorn Sheep crossings (rather than Deer) which seem prevalent in this area.

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