In the late 1800’s, gold rush fever swept across the United States. Countless fortune seekers headed West hoping to stumble upon a cache of precious metals. A small town in the Black Hills of South Dakota surrounded by dead timber steadily became one of the most iconic locales of the era, thanks to a small creek that was full of gold. Outlaws, thrill-seekers, and businessmen looking to make a quick buck all descended upon the Black Hills. Over a century later, Deadwood, South Dakota’s rowdy past still excites visitors.
One of the best ways to learn about Deadwood’s past is to view a live show from a performance troupe called Deadwood Alive. Deadwood Alive reenacts pivotal moments from Deadwood’s history, such as the assassination of solider and showman Wild Bill Hickok. Visitors can hop aboard the horse-drawn Deadwood Stagecoach driven by a Deadwood Alive historian in period dress and learn all about some of Deadwood’s most notorious residents and the saloons that they frequented.
Once you’ve learned about Deadwood’s most infamous residents, you can visit their final resting places at the Mt. Moriah Cemetery. Located high on a hilltop, Mt. Moriah offers a sweeping view of the city of Deadwood. The tombstone of famous lawman Seth Bullock—who was immortalized in the HBO series Deadwood—is situated at one of the highest points in the cemetery so that Seth Bullock can forever watch over the people of Deadwood. Seth Bullock’s business partner Sol Star is buried farther down the hill. Other notable tombstones include sharpshooter and frontierswoman Calamity Jane and her companion Wild Bill Hickok.
If you want to try your hand at panning for gold, head over to the Broken Boot Gold Mine. Established in 1879, the Broken Boot mine produced more iron pyrite—otherwise known as fool’s gold—than actual gold during its heyday. Thankfully, iron pyrite was in high demand so the proprietors of the Broken Boot Gold Mine still made a pretty penny. Today, visitors can take a guided tour of the mine’s underground tunnels and pan for gold for a small fee. If you’re lucky enough to stumble across some actual gold, it is yours to keep.
Deadwood is home to several historic saloons, restaurants, and functioning casinos where visitors can get some Wild West-style kicks. Every inch of Deadwood has a story to tell. One of the liveliest cities in the West offers plenty of ways to make lasting memories.