Fortunately the heavy overnight showers didn’t materialise and we rose in good time ready to hit the road to Deadwood www.deadwood.org in our hire car. As well as the town itself we wanted to visit Wild Bill Hickok’s grave along with Calamity Jane’s who is buried next to him.
It was about a 60 mile journey and took us 90 minutes. We had a quick look around town to get the feel of the place before I suggested that we pay to go on a bus tour www.originaldeadwoodtour.com (owned by Kevin Costner) which left from outside The Midnight Star casino www.themidnightstar.com (also owned by Kevin Costner) so that we could get to know what was of interest in town. The bus would also save our legs up to the top of the hill where the graves are located. We just missed the 10:30 tour bus and so booked seats on the 11:30 It cost $7 each as we were both ‘seniors’ (getting old ain’t so bad), we then went back to the car for a cup of coffee from our flask.
The tour bus driver/guide was very entertaining and managed to make a slow trip down Main Street, and a trip up the hill to Mount Moriah Cemetery (GPS: N44.374985 W103.724609) and back last an hour. The travel books I had read painted a picture of both Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane buried alone on the top of a windswept hill above the town, not a bit of it, and the biggest disappointment was that Wild Bill, along with many others, had originally been buried in a small cemetery on what was then, the edge of town. But to create more redevelopment space they were exhumed and moved to this new cemetery at the top of the hill above the town. It’s a large cemetery and these days it’s pretty crowded up there, without the guide we’d have had a problem finding the graves. Their former cemetery remains just a grassed area, it never did get developed.
After the tour we went to the 'Midnight Star' saloon to watch a re-enactment of the shooting of Wild Bill, and the birth of the ‘Dead Man’s Hand’ in poker. Later in the day we popped back in there as we’d forgotten to take a photograph of the chair he was supposedly shot in mounted internally above the door.
We then went to Saloon Number 10 on Main Street www.saloon10.com where ‘Wild Bill’ really was shot as opposed to pretend-shot back at the Midnight Star, for lunch, and a quick play on the gaming machines, where I duly lost $5.
Gambling is what has saved Deadwood. Many years ago when gambling moved to Las Vegas, followed by the railways closing, and the gold mines shutting down as the price of gold fell, the town was dying on its feet. Eventually it was agreed that Deadwood could have casinos, and the profits used to renovate all of the historical buildings. The casinos are still there, hiding behind tinted glass in almost every building that isn’t a gift shop along Main Street. We also had a good look around the town’s Adams Museum & House www.AdamsMuseumAndHouse.org which was very interesting.
Kevin Costner’s name is big around Deadwood. While making the film ‘Dances With Wolves’ he became attached to the area and funded ‘Tatanka’ www.storyofthebison.com , a park on the outskirts of town featuring a larger than life bronze statue of 14 bison being pursued by 3 native American Indians. He also has a casino here containing a lot of his movie memorabilia mounted on the walls. The Chef was keen that we take a look at it, and look we did, as well as walking away from their gaming machines with a profit. They pay out in cash and so we had handfuls of 25cent coins. When we went in to our next casino, the ‘Silvarado’, you could see the staff break out in to a cold sweat; with our bulging pockets they could tell we were on a roll and ready to clean them out. In all we left town about $30 in profit, what high rollers we are.
Leaving with a $30 profit very nearly became a large loss. When we arrived back at the car The Chef found her purse missing from her handbag, this had always been my fear. It was important we swiftly retraced our steps as the loss of the bank cards would cause us far more grief and problems than the cash. Rosina made for the Silverado Casino which is where she last had it and I jogged around the route of the walk we had taken since leaving there. Fortunately when we met up again at the casino she was much relieved having found it on the floor just where she had been sitting. Much more of this and I'll have to put her in a Nursing Home.
On the way back to camp we stopped off in Hill City which had interesting, well preserved Wild West looking shops selling Blackpool-style souvenir tat. Still we got a few photographs out of it before setting off for home.
This evening’s meal was another chicken salad, as we needed to eat a fresh cooked organic chicken that we’d bought in Wal-Mart a few days ago. We managed to get through half of it which means there’s yet another meal in it; I’ve suggested perhaps a chicken curry for a change. We fly home two weeks on Sunday and therefore must focus on the contents of our cupboards and do our best to eat as much of it as possible before leaving.
Tomorrow we may well go to visit Crazy Horse Memorial which isn’t far from here, and Mount Rushmore to take some photographs. It’s forecast cooler and cloudier so we may not get such a good background to the photographs, but you have to work with what you’ve got.
LOCATION TONIGHT: Custer’s Gulch RV Park, Custer, South Dakota