Our last stop in the Black Hills is the town of Deadwood – not quite as seen on TV. Deadwood is a frontier town, established in the 1870s as a result of the gold rush in the Black Hills. Finding gold in the Black Hills, and establishing settlements there was highly problematic, and some have argued, illegal, since the land had been given to the Lakota in a treaty in 1868. But of course, when there is gold, such treaties have little meaning in practice.
Deadwood quickly became famous for its lawlessness, supplying prospectors with all they needed: hardware, gambling, brothels. This early history of Deadwood is vividly (and not always accurately) portrayed in a TV-series, and so many of the characters of the town, including famously Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, were sufficiently familiar to us to make the trip to the cemetery worthwhile.Wild Bill Hickok was another legendary Wild West character, but unlike Buffalo Bill, he was not primarily a showman. He was murdered in Deadwood on August 2, 1876, while playing poker. The term “Dead Man’s Hand” is now widely used to refer to his final hand, two aces and two eights. As one might expect, there is a controversy as to what his hand exactly was, which should come as no surprise, given that there are no less than four different establishments in Deadwood claiming to be at the exact location of “Saloon No. 10”, the place of Wild Bill’s murder.