Deadwood, South Dakota
Deadwood (Lakota: Owáyasuta; "To approve or confirm things") is a city in South Dakota, United States, and the county seat of Lawrence County. It was named by early settlers after the dead trees found in its gulch. The city had its heyday from 1876 to 1879, after gold deposits had been discovered there, leading to the Black Hills Gold Rush. At its height, the city had a population of 5,000, and attracted larger-than-life Old West figures including Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok (who was killed there).
Deadwood, South Dakota
Modern Deadwood viewed from Mount Moriah
|• Type||City Commission|
|• Total||3.83 sq mi (9.92 km2)|
|• Land||3.83 sq mi (9.92 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0 km2)|
|Elevation||4,531 ft (1,381 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||331.6/sq mi (128.0/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−7 (Mountain (MST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−6 (MDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1265180|
The settlement of Deadwood began illegally in the 1870s on land which had been granted to the Lakota people in the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. The treaty had guaranteed ownership of the Black Hills to the Lakota people, who considered this area to be sacred. The squatters led to numerous land disputes, several of which reached the United States Supreme Court.
Everything changed after Colonel George Armstrong Custer led an expedition into the Black Hills and announced the discovery of gold in 1874 on French Creek near present-day Custer, South Dakota. This announcement was a catalyst for the Black Hills Gold Rush, and miners and entrepreneurs swept into the area. They created the new and lawless town of Deadwood, which quickly reached a population of around 5,000.
In early 1876, frontiersman Charlie Utter and his brother Steve led a wagon train to Deadwood containing what they believed were needed commodities to bolster business. The numerous gamblers and prostitutes staffed several profitable ventures. Madame Mustache and Dirty Em were on the wagon train and set up shop in what was referred to as Deadwood Gulch. Demand for women was high by the miners and the business of prostitution proved to have a good market. Madam Dora DuFran eventually became the most profitable brothel owner in Deadwood, closely followed by Madam Mollie Johnson.
Deadwood became known for its lawlessness; murders were common and justice for murders not always fair and impartial. The town attained further notoriety when gunman Wild Bill Hickok was killed on August 2, 1876.
Both he and Calamity Jane were buried at Mount Moriah Cemetery, as were less notable figures such as Seth Bullock. Hickok's murderer, Jack McCall, was prosecuted twice, despite the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against double jeopardy. Because Deadwood was an illegal town in Indian Territory, non-native civil authorities lacked the jurisdiction to prosecute McCall. McCall's trial was moved to a Dakota Territory court, where he was found guilty of murder and hanged.
As the economy changed from gold panning to deep mining, the individual miners went elsewhere or began to work in other fields. Deadwood lost some of its rough and rowdy character, and began to develop into a prosperous town. But beginning August 12, 1876, a smallpox epidemic swept through. So many persons fell ill that tents were erected to quarantine the stricken.
In 1876, General George Crook pursued the Sioux Indians from the Battle of Little Big Horn on an expedition that ended in Deadwood in early September and is known as the Horsemeat March. The same month, businessman Tom Miller opened the Bella Union Saloon.
Al Swearengen, who also controlled the opium trade, opened a saloon called the Gem Variety Theater on April 7, 1877. The saloon burned down and was rebuilt in 1879. When it burned down again in 1899, Swearengen left town.
The Homestake Mine in nearby Lead was established in October 1877. It operated for more than a century, becoming the longest continuously operating gold mine in the United States. Gold mining operations did not cease until 2002. The mine has been open for visiting by tourists.
On September 26, 1879, a fire devastated Deadwood, destroying more than three hundred buildings and consuming the belongings of many inhabitants. Many of the newly impoverished left town to start again elsewere.
Thomas Edison demonstrated the incandescent lamp in New Jersey in 1879. Judge Squire P. Romans took a gamble and founded the "Pilcher Electric Light Company of Deadwood" on September 17, 1883. He ordered an Edison dynamo, wiring and 15 incandescent lights with globes. After delays the equipment arrived without the globes. Romans had been advertising an event to show off the new lights, and decided to continue with the lighting, which was a success. His company grew. Deadwood had electricity service fewer than four years after Edison invented it, less than a year after commercial service was started in Roselle, New Jersey, and around the same time that many larger cities around the country established the service.
A narrow-gauge railroad, the Deadwood Central Railroad, was founded by resident J.K.P. Miller and his associates in 1888, in order to serve their mining interests. The railroad was purchased by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in 1893. A portion of the railroad between Deadwood and Lead was electrified in 1902 for operation as an interurban passenger system, which operated until 1924. The railroad was abandoned in 1930, apart from a portion from Kirk to Fantail Junction, which was converted to standard gauge. The remaining section was abandoned by the successor Burlington Northern Railroad in 1984.
Some of the other early town residents and frequent visitors included E. B. Farnum, Charlie Utter, Sol Star, Martha Bullock, A. W. Merrick, Samuel Fields, Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy, the Reverend Henry Weston Smith, and Aaron Dunn.
The gold rush attracted Chinese immigrants to the area. Their population peaked at 250. A few engaged in mining; most worked in service enterprises. A Chinese quarter arose on Main Street, as there were no restrictions on foreign property ownership in Dakota Territory, and a relatively high level of tolerance of different peoples in the frontier town. Wong Fee Lee arrived in Deadwood in 1876 and became a leading merchant. He was a community leader among the Chinese Americans until his death in 1921.
The quarter's residents also included African Americans and European Americans. During the 2000s, the state sponsored an archeological dig in the area, to study the history of this community of diverse residents.
20th and 21st centuriesEdit
Another major fire in September 1959 came close to destroying the town again. About 4,500 acres (1,800 ha) were burned and an evacuation order was issued. Nearly 3,600 volunteer and professional firefighters, including personnel from the Homestake Mine, Ellsworth Air Force Base, and the South Dakota National Guard's 109th Engineer Battalion, worked to contain the fire. The property losses resulted in a major regional economic downturn.
In 1961, the entire town was designated a National Historic Landmark, for its well-preserved collection of late 19th-century frontier architecture. Most of the town's buildings were built before 1900, with only modest development after that. The town's population continued to decline through the 1960s and 1970s. Interstate 90 bypassed Deadwood in 1964, diverting travelers and businesses elsewhere. After a 1980 raid, its brothels were shut down. A fire in December 1987 destroyed the historic Syndicate Building and a neighboring structure.
The fire prompted new interest in the area and hopes to redevelop it. Organizers planned the "Deadwood Experiment," in which gambling was tested as a means of stimulating growth in the city center. At the time, gambling was legal only in the state of Nevada and in Atlantic City.
Deadwood was the first small community in the U.S. to seek legal gambling revenues in order to maintain local historic assets. The state legislature legalized gambling in Deadwood in 1989, which rapidly generated significant new revenues and development. The pressure of development since then may have an effect on the historical integrity of the landmark district. Heritage tourism is important for Deadwood and the state.
Deadwood is located at .
In the summer, there are numerous trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horse back riding. The northern end of the George S. Mickelson Trail starts in Deadwood and runs south through the Black Hills to Edgemont. Several man made lakes, including Sheridan Lake, provide fishing and swimming. Spearfish Canyon to the north has many places to rock climb. In early June the Mickelson Trail Marathon and 5K, as well as accompanying races for children, are held.
The Midnight Star was a casino in Deadwood owned by American film actor Kevin Costner. The casino opened in the spring of 1991, after Costner had directed and starred in the 1990 Academy Award-winning film Dances With Wolves, which was filmed mainly in South Dakota. International versions of many of his films' posters lined the walls. The casino closed in August 2017.
Deadwood's climate varies considerably from the rest of the state and surrounding areas. While most of the state receives less than 25 inches (640 mm) of precipitation per year, annual precipitation amounts in the Lead—Deadwood area reach nearly 30 inches (760 mm). Despite a mean annual snowfall of 102.9 inches (2.6 m), warm chinook winds are frequent enough that the median snow cover is zero even in January, although during cold spells after big snowstorms there can be considerable snow on the ground. On November 6, 2008, after a storm had deposited 45.7 inches (1.2 m) of snow, with a water equivalent of 4.25 inches (108 mm), 35 inches (0.9 m) of snow lay on the ground.
Spring is brief and is characterized by large wet snow storms and periods of rain. April 2006, though around 4 °F (2.2 °C) hotter than the long-term mean overall, saw a major storm of 54.4 inches (1.4 m), with a water equivalent 4.3 inches (109 mm), leave a record snow depth of 39 inches (1 m) on the 19th. Typically the first 70 °F (21 °C) temperature will be reached at the beginning of April, the first 80 °F (27 °C) near the beginning of May, and the first 90 °F (32 °C) around mid-June. Despite the fact that warm afternoons begin occasionally so early, 191.1 mornings each year fall to or below freezing, and even in May 6.8 mornings reach this temperature. Over the year, 0 °F or −17.8 °C is reached on 17.8 mornings per year, and 47.9 afternoons do not top freezing. The spring season sees heavy snow and rainfall, with 34 inches (0.9 m) of snow having fallen in April 1986 and as much as 15.99 inches (406 mm) of precipitation in the record wet May 1982.
The summer season is very warm, though with cool nights: only one afternoon in five years will top 100 °F (38 °C) and only 10.7 afternoons equal or exceed 90 °F (32 °C). Rainfall tapers off during the summer: August 2000 was one of only two months in the thirty-year 1971 to 2000 period to see not even a trace of precipitation. The fall is usually sunny and dry, with increasingly variable temperatures. The last afternoon of over 80 °F (27 °C) can be expected on October 5, but the first morning freeze can be expected as early as September 23, and the first snowfall also around October 5.
Since records began in 1948, the hottest temperature has been 103 °F (39.4 °C) most recently on July 10, 1954, and the coldest −30 °F (−34.4 °C) during the great freeze of December 1989.
|Climate data for Deadwood, South Dakota|
|Record high °F (°C)||65
|Average high °F (°C)||33
|Average low °F (°C)||11
|Record low °F (°C)||−28
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||1.30
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||13.8
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch)||8.7||7.4||8.9||10.2||12.0||12.3||9.7||7.5||6.8||6.7||7.0||8.7||105.9|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 inch)||6.9||5.8||6.2||3.6||0.5||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.2||1.8||4.5||6.1||35.6|
|Source #1: South Dakota State University|
|Source #2: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,380 people, 669 households, and 341 families residing in the city. The population density was 365.4 people per square mile (141.0/km²). There were 817 housing units at an average density of 216.3 per square mile (83.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.87% White, 1.88% Native American, 0.36% Asian, 0.65% from other races, and 1.23% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.75% of the population. 29.8% were of German, 9.6% Irish, 9.5% English, 9.5% Norwegian and 8.7% American ancestry.
There were 669 households out of which 20.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.7% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.9% were non-families. 40.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.01 and the average family size was 2.71.
In the city, the population was spread out with 19.3% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 27.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.6 males.
As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $28,641, and the median income for a family was $37,132. Males had a median income of $28,920 versus $18,807 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,673. About 6.9% of families and 10.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.4% of those under age 18 and 8.3% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,270 people, 661 households, and 302 families residing in the city. The population density was 331.6 inhabitants per square mile (128.0/km2). There were 803 housing units at an average density of 209.7 per square mile (81.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.9% White, 0.2% African American, 1.8% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.6% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.4% of the population.
There were 661 households of which 17.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.4% were married couples living together, 7.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 54.3% were non-families. 44.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.88 and the average family size was 2.60.
The median age in the city was 48 years. 15% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.3% were from 25 to 44; 37.9% were from 45 to 64; and 17.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 52.5% male and 47.5% female.
In popular cultureEdit
- Deadwood Dick is a fictional character who appears in a series of stories published between 1877 and 1897 by Edward Lytton Wheeler (1854/5–1885). These types of books were meant to be exciting and lurid and earned the popular name 'dime novels.' Several men associated with the city used this nickname at various times of their lives.
- The 1953 Warner Bros. movie musical Calamity Jane starring Doris Day was set in Deadwood City.
- The Adam-12 1969 episode, "The Long Walk" features an old man who reminisces about his early life in Deadwood.
- A 1978 children's book in the Choose Your Own Adventure series is set in Deadwood City.
- The popular San Francisco Bay Area club band Deadwood Stage, active through the early and mid 80's, was named for the stagecoach line made famous in Calamity Jane.
- In Flashman and the Redskins, a 1982 novel by George MacDonald Fraser, the eponymous hero, an acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok, ends his adventure in Deadwood in 1876, shortly before Hickok's death.
- Deadwood's history and inhabitants are the foundation of Pete Dexter's 1986 novel, Deadwood, in which Charles Utter, Wild Bill Hickok, and Calamity Jane are the central characters.
- The film Dances With Wolves (1990) was filmed in the area and featured several nearby locations.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation 1992 episode "A Fistful of Datas", a holodeck program takes place in 19th-century Deadwood.
- Dead Man in Deadwood, Book #87 in the Hardy Boys Casefiles series and published in 1994, is set in Deadwood.
- Setting for part of the 1995 TV film Buffalo Girls
- Deadwood is the setting for the 2004 music video of Big Time, a song by country duo Big & Rich.
- Deadwood, an HBO TV series that ran for three seasons from 2004 to 2006, had the town's early history as its setting.
- The three Tales from Deadwood novels (2005–07) by Mike Jameson are set in Deadwood and feature Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Al Swearengen and other historical figures.
- Showed as a haunted town in American Sci/Fi, Horror TV series Supernatural in the 2nd Season's 21st and 22nd Episode named "All Hell Breaks Loose (Part 1)" and "All Hell Breaks Loose (Part 2)"
- The Doctor Who comic book story Dead Man's Hand, published by IDW, takes place in Deadwood several years after the burial of "Wild Bill" Hickock.
- In the 2012 video game Borderlands 2, The town of Lynchwood is a space western-themed homage to Deadwood. The town includes a large mining operation near Main Street, as well as a "Gunslinger's Corner", where the main character faces off against the town sheriff and her posse.
- The 2017 historical fiction novel Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton takes place partly in Deadwood, with the protagonist arriving shortly after "Wild Bill" Hickok's death.
Gold rush period (born before 1870)Edit
- Granville G. Bennett (1833–1910), lawyer and politician
- Seth Bullock (1849–1919), sheriff, entrepreneur
- Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary) (1852–1903), frontierswoman
- William H. Clagett (1838–1901), lawyer and politician
- Richard Clarke (1845–1930), frontiersman
- Indiana Sopris Cushman (1839-1925), pioneer teacher in Colorado
- Charles Henry Dietrich (1853–1924), 11th Governor of Nebraska
- Dora DuFran (1868–1934), brothel owner in Deadwood
- Wyatt Earp (1848–1929), American investor and law enforcement officer
- E. B. Farnum (1826–1878), pioneer
- Samuel Fields supposed Civil War figure and prospector
- Arthur De Wint Foote (1849–1933), engineer
- Mary Hallock Foote (1847–1938), author and illustrator
- George Hearst U.S. Senator from California
- Wild Bill Hickok (1837–1876), gambler and gunslinger
- Mollie Johnson (d. after 1883), madam in Deadwood
- Freeman Knowles (1846–1910), politician
- Joseph Ladue (1855–1901), prospector, businessman, and founder of Dawson City, Yukon
- Jack Langrishe (1825-1895), actor
- Kitty Leroy (1850–1878), gambler, trick shooter, and frontierswoman
- H. R. Locke (1856–1927), photographer
- Madame Moustache (1834–1879), gambler
- Henry Weston Smith (1827–1876), early frontiersman and preacher
- Sol Star, entrepreneur, politician
- William Randolph Steele (1842–1901), former resident, mayor of Deadwood, lawyer, soldier, and politician
- Al Swearengen (1845–1904), entertainment entrepreneur
- Charlie Utter (c. 1838-aft. 1912), frontiersman
- Jerry Bryant (died 2015), historian
- Philip S. Van Cise (1884–1969), Colorado district attorney
- Charles Badger Clark (1883–1957), poet
- Rowland Crawford (1902–1973), architect
- Gary Mule Deer (b. 1939), comedian and country musician
- Amy Hill (b. 1953), Japanese-Finnish-American actress
- Carole Hillard (1936–2007), Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota 1995–2003
- Ward Lambert (1888–1958), college basketball coach
- William H. Parker (1905–1966), former Police Chief of Los Angeles
- Dorothy Provine (1937–2010), actress and dancer
- Craig Puki, former linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Cardinals
- Angelo Rizzuto (1906–1967), photographer
- Bill Russell (b. 1949), lyricist
- Bob Schloredt (b. 1939), former college football player for the Washington Huskies
- Jim Scott (1888–1957), played with the Chicago White Sox
- Chuck Turbiville (1943-2018), mayor of Deadwood and member of the South Dakota House of Representatives
- Alfred L. Werker (1896–1975), film director
- Cris Williamson (b. 1947), singer/musician
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- Ullrich, Jan F. (2014). New Lakota Dictionary (2nd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Lakota Language Consortium. ISBN 978-0-9761082-9-0.
- "Discover the History of the Real Deadwood, South Dakota".
- "The Painted Ladies of Deadwood Gulch". Legends of America. 2003. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
- "Illuminating The Frontier" (PDF). blackhillscorp. pp. 1–20. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
- Hilton, George W. (1990). American Narrow Gauge Railroads. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-2369-9.
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- Edith C. Wong et al., "Deadwood's Pioneer Merchant," South Dakota History (2009) 39#4 pp 283–335
- David J. Wishart (2004). Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 140, 141. ISBN 978-0-8032-4787-1.
- "Where East Met (Wild) West". Smithsonian. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
- "Historic Wildfire in the Black Hills – Deadwood 1959" (PDF). National Fire Protection Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 7, 2008. Retrieved July 26, 2009.
- "National Guard engineers end 77 years in Sturgis". Rapid City Journal. August 16, 2007. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- "NHL nomination for Deadwood Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
- "Deadwood gambling spurred change, but the town's evolution continues". Rapid City Journal. November 1, 2009. Retrieved November 18, 2009.
- Perret, Geoffrey. ""The Town That Took a Chance Archived 2009-10-04 at the Wayback Machine", American Heritage, April/May 2005.
- "Deadwood, South Dakota – Gambling, Historic Preservation, and Economic Revitalization" (PDF). USDA. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 6, 2010. Retrieved November 18, 2009.
- "National Historic Landmarks Program: Deadwood Historic District". National Park Service. Archived from the original on January 6, 2008. Retrieved January 10, 2008.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- Griffith, Tom. "Lights go out on Kevin Costner's Midnight Star in Deadwood". Rapid City Journal. The Bismark Tribune. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
- National Weather Service; NOW Data, Rapid City, South Dakota
- "Precipitation Normals 1971–2000". April 2012. Archived from the original on April 17, 2012. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
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- Bradshaw, Peter (7 April 2016). "Calamity Jane review – hugely enjoyable proto-lesbian musical". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- Granger, Edward Packard; illustrated by Paul (1978). Deadwood City. Toronto: Bantam. ISBN 0-553-13994-0.
- "Dances with Wolves". 21 November 1990 – via IMDb.
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