Summer Staycation ’15 Stop 2: Deadwood

Everything after Hill City was uncharted territory. The Subaru ascended further into the Black Hills than either of us had ever been before, and I was dumbfounded by their beauty (and pine scent). My landlady had warned me:

“Deadwood is a terrible place. Unless…

…you like gambling.”


Beautiful scenery? Check. A whole town designated as a National Historic Landmark? Check. Some of my favorite one armed bandits? Check.

Family-oriented re-enactments of gunfights are just icing on the cake. In fact, Deadwood is full of free shows. While wandering Main Street waiting for the gunfight, I passed The Colorado Charlie Utter Show. Shows I didn’t see include Calamity Jane and the capture of Jack McCall. (The Trial of Jack McCall costs $6, so forget that.)

Sadly, the entire historic landmark of Deadwood was under construction when my Subaru parked at the informative and friendly Visitor’s Center. Construction will most likely be completed in time for the 75th annual Rally in nearby Sturgis the first week of August.

wooden nickel

Long before it was a slogan on WWII posters, “Don’t take any wooden nickels,” was a phrase that meant, “be careful in your business dealings.” My grandfather said that all the time, so I avoided this place but got a good photo.

I decided that the construction made walking the best way to get to the Mt. Moriah Cemetery, where the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are a virtual geocache. In the future, I will probably not make the decision to walk to the gravesites.


However, the photo below, already seen on Instagram, is pretty near the view that Bill and Jane’s mortal remains get to enjoy until the Yellowstone supervolcano explodes. Win-win.


The Franklin Hotel, pictured below (if you squint you can see Calamity Jane riling up the crowd before the gunfight), is the site of Triple Diamond and Monopoly penny slots, among others, and the Wheel of Fortune 25c, which I happily found to be loose.

Gambling tips for minnows like me (as opposed to high-roller “whales”): assume that you will lose 100% of what you play. Only play what you are willing to lose. Casual minnows will not have a problem if what you are willing to lose is about the same amount that you would spend on a nice night on the town engaged in some other entertaining activity. IF by some FREAK chance you do not lose 100%, it is prudent to pay yourself back with your winnings, and continue gambling with whatever surplus is left. IF by another FREAK chance you hit again and walk away…keep walking. Walk past the Harleys and the healing stones. Walk past the saris and the ukuleles and all the other junk they conveniently place next to the loose slots UNLESS you have promised yourself a nice healing stone upon winning.

You have to bet big to win big, and I never bet big. However, following the simple rules above, I was able to pay for my entire trip to Deadwood plus an additional dinner out. I realize I will not always be that lucky.


That’s it for photos of Deadwood. Immediately following the gunfight, I hightailed it back to the Best Western, where I dined on the most delicious breakfast burrito on the planet. Then I dropped $3 into the Goldfish penny machine on the premises. I knew Goldfish was too far from the main action to be loose, but I had to spin the reels once for old times’ sake.

In my luxurious (but sadly lacking in electrical outlets) hotel room, I visited the geocaching website in an attempt to figure out which paradise of a lake I had passed on my way into town. It turns out the lake used to be Pactola, a town that was flooded for a reservoir like Northfork.


Not bad for an overnight.

I will return to Deadwood. I can see how a person would be right to categorize it as “terrible.” It is definitely a town for tourists. However, there are lectures (LECTURES!) in the plaza, dinner theaters, spas, and the once-and-future allure of gold in them thar hills. All of those amenities are too much for this minnow to resist.

If any of my readers are interested, there is specifically a weekend in October (16 and 17) during which the dinner theater hosts a special Halloween show with an optional ghost tour add-on. I predict that I will be in Deadwood that weekend, if anyone would like to join me.

Until then…happy staycationing!


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