The Town of Deadwood

So this isn’t really a hike but has been on my bucket list ever since I saw the HBO series Deadwood. I would describe the show as historical fiction as it is a drama that tells the story of Deadwood during the gold rush that really put the town on the map. Stars like Timothy Olyphant (Seth Bullock), Ian McShane (Al Swearengen), Dayton Callie (Charlie Utter), and Robin Weigart (Calamity Jane) do an amazing job of recreating the life and times of real people who are truly intertwined in the town’s history and a big part of the town even today.

To this day those names are scattered throughout the real Deadwood in the small but lively downtown area. The Bullock hotel for instance is rumored to be haunted. Charlie Utter’s name adorns a shop on the main strip and I even had his breakfast special at the Gem hotel. Calamity Jane and perhaps the towns most well known resident, Wild Bill Hickok are buried together in the towns historic Mount Moriah Cemetary. Since it is Memorial Day, lets begin there.

Mount Moriah Cemetery

One of the fist sets of memorials you will find when entering the cemetery is Wild Bill and Calamity Jane.

Next to them is another local legend, Potato Creek Johnny. Johnny supposedly pulled one of the largest gold nuggets ever recorded and became a town legend after that.

A brick retaining wall supporting the gravesite has an engraved rock marker showing that above the hill lies Potato Creek Johnny

In my opinion the Seth Bullock plot was the most memorable. Bullock was buried on a steep hill above the rest of the cemetery on a cliff because he was said to want a clear view of Mount Roosevelt. Apparently he was a personal friend of the ex-president and did this to honor him.

Bullocks final resting place had some really nice views but the best view at Mount Moriah is from the overlook. It takes in the town and Deadwood Gulch.

a wide view looking down onto the town of Deadwood.  In the immediate foreground are the tops of green trees.  In the middle is the town itself and in the background are rolling hills covered with evergreen trees.

There are several other very fascinating stories at the cemetery like mass graves fromthe epidemics that ran rampant through the camps to a Madame buried with the likes of Bill and Jane in a place of high regard. I can’t go into them all here but really recommend that you check this place out.

The Town

The town is an interesting combination of old historic brick buildings from the 1800’s and brand new slot machines. The outside of main strip still feels like it should have hitching posts at some places while the insides have all the bells and flashing lights of the newest high tech Vegas casino. Some of the historic buildings, like the Franklin hotel look like time hasn’t touched them.

A view of the front of the Franklin hotel.  The building is brick made with white stone columns in the front.

The town founder, W. E. Adams, original house has been preserved and is now a museum.

The first floor of the Adams house is made with large redbricks and the second floor is of a purple shingle.  The right side of the house is a rounded tower like that in a castle of old with a cap that comes to a point.

The rest of the town is peppered with the references of the past, such as the aforementioned Bullock hotel and a Wild Bill Hickock hotel.

Overall I thought the town was very cool and am very glad I went. This town is dripping with history. The chair that Wild Bill was shot in is even at a bar, although there are some questions of its authenticity. For a town like Deadwood I don’t think the accuracy of the history is even the important part. Remembering the history, or historical fiction if it comes to that, in a town like Deadwood makes a small town feel like a giant. Deadwood is town that embraces that history but is definitely not stuck in the past.

If you have a suggestion for a hike that you would like me to try, feel free to email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com or you can follow me on the below social media platforms. I have also added this hike and all the hikes to the interactive map that you can find here.

Leave a Reply