Unless you enjoy hanging out in bars—not the kind that serve alcohol—this week’s Mystery Monday location might have thrown you for a loop.
It’s the historic 1888 jail in Hot Springs, South Dakota. The jail’s history is murky; not much is known about it beyond its construction date, and the fact that it housed one of the Black Hills’ most notorious figures—Calamity Jane.
According to accounts published in the November 12, 1895 edition of the Hot Springs Star, Calamity Jane arrived in town that evening and, was often the case, put on “a drunken exhibition on the streets and at various places around town.”
Then-mayor C.W. Hargens arrived at the Bodega Saloon to find Calamity Jane under the influence and causing a disturbance. She was “dressed in trousers, heavy leather jacket and wide-brimmed hat; strapped around her waist was a wide belt studded with cartridges and in the holster was a Colt revolver.” The saloon owner was afraid of antagonizing her further if they cut her off, so Hargens had the police chief stick around to monitor her. When the saloon closed for the night, they offered her lodging at the jail, which she accepted. The next morning, she returned to Rapid City—much to the relief of many Hot Springs citizens.
The jail is believed to be the oldest wooden jail in South Dakota and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was discovered by accident when an old house on South Chicago Street in Hot Springs was being torn down. The jail was found within the walls of the residence.
It’s located on the 600 block of North River Street, adjacent to the Visitor’s Center.
With that, we conclude this year’s Mystery Monday series. If you enjoyed playing along, please leave us a comment—we may just be back with more mystery locations next year!