Deadwood, South Dakata to Hot Springs, South Dakota


Deadwood, South Dakota.

The name is the stuff of American legend. In 1868 the Black Hills were ceded forever to the Lakota-Sioux in the Treaty of Fort Laramie. Then, in 1874 General George A. Custer's troops  discovered gold in them thare hills. By 1876 a gold rush was fully underway, and the Deadwood Gulch camp was well on its way to becoming the city of Deadwood, even if it existence was illegal, violating the treaty between the U.S government and the Lakota. This was The Wild, Lawless West:  murder was common and not always prosecuted and prostitution and gambling were major past times. It's still a great place to gamble, drink, and eat.


And we were headed there from Medora, North Dakota. Somewhere between Medora and Deadwood I would drive on the straightest road I had yet to ever drive in my entire life. Late in the afternoon we pulled into the Deadwood KOA campground. We took the campground's shuttle into town, where we began a long, hot climb up to the Mount Moriah Cemetery where some of the most notable personages to inhabit Deadwood are buried or memorialized.

The first stop on the self-guided tour of Mount Moriah cemetery

The not so attractive graves of Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane.

In early 1876 frontiersmen Charlie and Steve Utter led a wagon train into Deadwood Gulch. He brought with him arrived Madams Mustache and Dirty Em. Along for the ride were also Charlie Utter's good friend Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Wild Bill's stay in Deadwood would be cut short when Jack McCall shot him in the back of the head during a game of poker at the No. 10 Saloon. Wild Bill was purportedly holding black aces and eights giving rise to the term the Deadman's Hand. The rather intimidating Seth Bullock would arrive in town a few days later and become its first sheriff. His business partner Sol Star would serve as mayor for many years. They would first open a hardware store and later the still in operation Bullock Hotel. Madams Dora DuFran and Mollie Johnson were also now operating very successfully in town. Early in 1877 Al Swearengen opened the notorious Gem Variety Theater (a brothel) and set up the opium trade in the area. If you can say anything about Deadwood is that it is not boring.

White-tailed deer.

White-tailed deer fawn. I feel bad for it. It's covered in ticks if you look closely.

Traveler Thirteen and I would visit Wild Bill and Calamity Jane's grave. We would then stalk two white-tailed deer leading their fawns through the cemetery. Then it was time for drinks at a bar or two and then dinner at the Deadwood Social Club. I highly recommend the buffalo ravioli.

Downtown Deadwood

The No. 10 Saloon.

 The next day it was time to say goodbye to Traveler Thirteen and Chena. They went home as I continued my journey. I was a bit worse for wear after an evening in Deadwood. I picked up my rental car at the Rapid City airport and drove south to Hot Springs, South Dakota.

Columbian Mammoth Skull

I stopped at The Mammoth Site. Here you can visit the remains of huge Columbian mammoths and their smaller cousins the Woolly Mammoth. You can also get acquainted with the remains of a short-faced bear. Nearly 26,000 years ago these animals got trapped in the mud of a spring-fed pond. To date 61 mammoths have been unearthed here.

At this point I was in desperate need of a nap. I was staying at the bunkhouse on a lovely ranch in Hot Springs. I rolled into the ranch, where they raise and train quarter horses, entered the cabin, and promptly fell asleep to the sounds of horses, sheltered in the shade of the bunkhouse, flicking their tails hard against the side of the cabin in an effort to relieve themselves of flies. Swoosh, thump, swoosh, thump, swoosh, thump and then zzzzzzzzzz.

My lodgings and a great place for an afternoon nap.

Maybe you can figure out how many horses are in the pasture. I never did figure out how many were on the ranch. It's a big piece of territory.

Wild Turkeys

I awoke in the late afternoon and just sat out side watching the horses and wild turkeys wander by.

Next Stop: The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.