Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Our Fall Vacation To South Dakota, Day 2, Part 1: Deadwood

This is a continuation of a travel series to South Dakota.  To start at the beginning, go HERE.  Post two is HERE.

On day two of our vacation to South Dakota we went to the historic wild west town of Deadwood.  We did so much in a day and a half in this town that I couldn't possibly cover it all into one post, so I am dividing Deadwood into three posts: Part 1 will cover the town of Deadwood, Part 2 will cover the historic Adams House, and Part 3 will cover the Mount Moriah Cemetery.

Deadwood originated as a gold mining town when in 1875 pioneer Frank Bryant was hunting deer and instead found a sparkling metal.  Miners in search of a fortune followed establishing a town in 1876. 

Today the gold is long gone,  and Deadwood is now a tourist town loaded with history for lovers of the Old West.

We arrived in Deadwood very early in the morning, when most businesses were still closed.  We decided to take advantage of the serene morning and took  a lovely paved nature trail that was located behind the Deadwood Chamber Visitor Center.  The trail ran along Whitewood Creek.   It had two very pretty bridges with views of the "mountains" in the distance. 

The Chamber Visitor Center is housed in a gorgeous building.  It contains all the usual information every Visitor Center provides, but there are also displays explaining Deadwood's rich history. It is a must stop before you begin exploring Deadwood.

By the time we were finished touring the Visitor Center and walking the nature trail, the stores were opening up, so off we went on a walking tour of Deadwood.

Most of the businesses in Deadwood are casinos or bars.  There are some stores, but most are souvenir gift shops.  As much as I enjoyed admiring the western architecture of the town, I was disappointed that there was not a lot of shopping.  My husband and I don't gamble or drink, so other than taking the walking tour and learning the back history of the buildings, there was not much else to  do on the historic main street.  We were also surprised that there weren't any cute shops to eat or drink anything other than alcohol.  There were no chocolate shops, ice cream parlors, bakeries, etc.; the typical stuff you see in most tourist towns.  Every business was either a bar, a casino, or a souvenir gift shop.  

This is an old gasoline station renovated for wine tasting.

 Even if gambling and drinking aren't your thing, Deadwood is worth a stop for it's stunning architecture alone.  The entire city is a National Historic Landmark District.   The buildings are so well preserved, and each building has a story to tell.

Deadwood's past is well-known for its rough and rowdy crowd.  It was a place where miners came to drink, gamble and spend some time with "ladies of the night".  This bar/casino played up on that heritage by placing scantily clad mannequins in the upper story windows.

You can take a guided bus tour of Deadwood for $20.00 per person.  We did not take this tour.  We picked up a brochure at the Visitors Center and did a self-guided walking tour instead.  There is also a trolley that charges only $1.00 per person or $5.00 for an all day pass.  It runs at regular intervals between all hotels, motels, and other key stops.

 There are a number of gorgeous historic hotels still operating in Deadwood.  We stayed at a new hotel/casino just on the edge of the town(The Lodge), but we did pop in and check out the lobbies of a lot of these beauties.

They really love to play up on the old west theme in Deadwood, coming up with a lot of creative titles for their establishments.

The Franklin Hotel is the grandest old hotel on the historic main street.  We went inside to check out the Victorian architecture of their lobby and it was stunning!  There also have great food and restaurants here,  guests can eat on the veranda pictured below or inside at one of their other dining options.  Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, and John Wayne are a few of the famous guests who stayed in this hotel.

This hotel used to be a Homestead Slime Plant in 1906.

 I just loved the western flair of this town.  This is not a style one sees in the state of Wisconsin.  We are more about log cabins, forests, pine trees, and deer.

  The Bullock Hotel is Deadwood's oldest hotel and is rich in ghost history.  The ghost of Seth Bullock has been reported to be seen by many guests and hotel workers.  The hotel offers ghost tours for the paranormal fans.

Perhaps Deadwood's most favorite resident was Wild Bill Hickok, who was shot in the back of the head by Jack McCall on August 2, 1876 at this saloon.

You can walk in and just take pictures of the saloon, but they ask for a small donation or store purchase if you do.   They also offer paid, guided tours.

 And of course the place they captured the assassin of Wild Bill is important too!

After taking the walking tour we were pretty hot and tired and thought it was time to cool off in the local museum.  The Adams Museum is free admission but they do request a donation.  It felt wonderful to enjoy some air conditioning and read about all the wild characters of the town like Wild Bill, Calamity Jane, and Potato Creek Johnny.

For a free, little museum, it was actually quite impressive.  It told you anything you could possibly want to know about the town's history and it's famous residents.

A narrow gauge railroad was established in 1888 to serve the interests of the mining companies.  In 1902 a portion of this railroad was electrified to carry passengers.  In 1930 the railroad was abandoned but there is a historic train station still in Deadwood today that now serves as a Visitor Center.

When we were done touring the museum and we were refreshed and renewed, it was time to head over the Historic Adams House for a tour (more on that next week).  On the way there we saw a few more historic buildings of interest.

Historic Federal Courthouse 1907

Lawrence County Courthouse

And that concludes Part 1 of our visit to Deadwood.  If you love historic homes, be sure to come back next week when I will be sharing stories and pictures of the Historic Adams House.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!


  1. Replies
    1. Me too! The house tour was actually my favorite part of visiting Deadwood.

  2. A really great post Amy. We too visited this town while in SD (the town entrance was under construction back then). But only spend a few hours here as we also wanted to see the Devil's Tower which was only a little over an hour away (in Wyoming). We did get to see this gorgeous historic downtown, like you we're not drinkers or gamblers, but what a great way to step back in time a little bit.

    1. Would you believe we started driving towards Devil's Tower, then turned around and came back? We had just crossed the state line (so now I can say I was officially in the state of Wyoming) and then realized we could see Devil's Tower when we went to the Grand Tetons on a future vacation. Yes, I enjoyed Deadwood, but I felt they were selling themselves short as a tourist town by only offering bars and saloons. The entire South Dakota area of Mt. Rushmore, Custer, etc. is very family oriented, they should have had more options for the non-drinkers/non-gamblers.

  3. What a wonderful trip. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. You take some really fun trips! I love your outfit too! It's so cute on you! That hat is perfect!

    1. Thanks Laura! I had to dress the part when I was in the west!

  5. It still has a definite look of the Wild West to the main street Amy. I could imagine a gunslinger or two having a stand off while people watched!
    MLSTL and I've shared on my SM :)

    1. They actually still do a wild west show right on the street at 6:00 pm every day. We missed it, because we were long gone by then. I wish they did a mid-day show too!

  6. Omg what a cute western town! This looks like such a fun city!

    <3 Shannon 
    Upbeat Soles

    1. It is cute and fun! Thanks for visiting Shannon.

  7. I don't gamble or drink either, but I would find that architecture interesting! It's so cool seeing all the old west still alive there!

    Pumps and Push-Ups

    1. Yes, the architecture is so interesting! It's great they kept it up and the town was not modernized.

  8. Just love that dress with the booties and hat! I have my eye on an Amazon hat and I may put it on my wish list for Christmas. I'd like to try to incorporate some hats into my blog photos. What a fun town, so colorful and lots to walk and see! I don't gamble either!


    1. My husband and I see a lot of casinos on our travels, and frankly, they're never seems to be a lot of people in them. I don't know how they make that much money off of them to have so many of them. I own so many hats. I don't spend a lot of money on them because I don't get a lot of wear out of them. I wear them most when traveling or for blog photos. My life is more "in and out of a car" and hats aren't practical for that. The top usually hits the roof of the car when I get in. ha ha. Forever 21 is a great place to buy on-trend inexpensive hats.

  9. That does look like a neat town to explore.

  10. What a fantastic place to visit, Amy! It sure looks like a movie set for a Western!
    Thank you for taking part in the Travel Tuesday meme.


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love feedback from my readers. If you have a blog, I always return the love by visiting within a week whoever leaves a comment.