On the 27th Day of the PapiBlogger Family Road Trip, the Ruiz clan explored the Wild West town of Deadwood, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a place with such a rich, checkered past that the entire town is designated a National Historic Landmark.
Deadwood (population 1,380) is an old mining town that was to the Wild West of the 1800’s what Las Vegas is to us today – only MUCH wilder. Bars, brothels, gambling, brawls, greed for gold and gunfights characterized Deadwood.
In order to get an overview of Deadwood we started our visit with a terrific one-hour yellow bus tour with The Original Deadwood Tour company that’s owned by Kevin Costner. The tour company’s part of a casino Costner owns in Deadwood and is close to other South Dakota locations where the actor filmed his Oscar-winning film “Dances with Wolves.” The tour guide we had (I can’t remember his name) was informative and witty with more one-liners per minute than I have ever heard.
The reason men rushed to the town in the mid to late 1800’s was because of the discovery of gold. Deadwood has one of the largest deposits of gold ever found in the world and it is said that fully 10% of all the gold ever mined in HISTORY has been from the mines of Deadwood. (The Hearst family owned the largest gold mine in Deadwood for many years).
What’s really curious about Deadwood is that today the town is known much more for its most infamous outlaw than for its gold.
You see, Deadwood was put on the map nationally in the late 1800s for being the place where the infamous gunslinger Wild Bill Hickok (not to be confused with Buffalo Bill) got killed. Wild Bill was a former Union Army scout, marksman and sheriff who later killed a man to became an outlaw. According to our tour guide, in order to sell newspapers, accounts of his subsequent shooting exploits were so exaggerated that at one time he was more popular than then-president Abraham Lincoln.
On August 2, 1876, Wild Bill was gambling in a game of cards when he was shot in the head behind his back. Ever since his death Deadwood has embraced Wild Bill as their patron symbol and he is immortalized everywhere you go with Wild Bill names for everything from restaurants to ice cream. Our tour guide took us to his grave, which is visited by 100,000 unwitting tourists like us a year and is not worthwhile because it looks too neat and modern. His former mistress, Calamity Jane is buried next to him, also in a modern looking marker.
BIKING FOR NASHVILLE
At the conclusion of our tour we learned we were on a tour bus that included two young college students that are on an even tougher road trip than us. Jesse Murphy and Daniel Finney are riding their bicycles from the shores of Virginia to the waters of California and it’s for the good cause of raising money for victims of the recent floods in Nashville.
They have a group of friends with them documenting their journey on a blog called BikingForNashville.com and we asked them to tell us about the their trip. PapiBlogger interviewed them and you can see their story in the video below.
SPRINT NEXTEL ROAD TRIP TIP OF THE DAY
Always have a family swimming bag handy in your vehicle because you never know when you will spontaneously run into a neat place to get wet in the summer. This swimming bag should include the swimming suits (swimming diapers for tots) and shoes, towels and sunscreen. This bag will save you a lot of time you otherwise would use unpacking and repacking your bags.