The 1874 discovery of gold in the southern area of the Black Hills set off a great gold rush. Thousands of faceless miners, muleskinners, lawmen, gunslingers and gamblers moved into the northern part of the Black Hills of Dakota Territory in 1876 where they came across a gulch full of dead trees and a creek full of gold. They prospected, opened shops, built houses, bet it all, lost fortunes and gained riches beyond their wildest dreams. It was America’s last great gold rush.
The city that developed there was a lawless camp of prospectors looking to get rich quick. Deadwood was made up of tents and shanties when the town was first being established, but as the population grew, these were replaced with mansions, grand stone balconies and brick facades. Though most of the early settlers were gold miners, the lawless gold camp also attracted a crowd of rough and shady characters with the likes of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Seth Bullock, and hundreds of other legends.
Over the years, Deadwood avoided becoming just another American Wild West ghost town by surviving three major fires and economic hardships. The entire town was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and is the largest historic preservation project in the Untied States. In 1989, the introduction of limited stakes gambling gave new life to the city.
In the summer, the gentle slopes and easy access of the northern end of the George S. Mickelson trail, a converted railroad track, allow people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the beauty of the Black Hills by hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding in the area. There are two ski areas just a few miles away, as well as over three hundred miles of groomed and interconnected snowmobiling trails for everyone to enjoy during the winter.
Guests interested in history can visit the Adams Museum or take the Historic Walking Tour of Deadwood. Deadwood also hosts concerts and special events each summer. The Days of ‘76 Rodeo in late July features top cowboys in all the traditional events.