Tootsie sign.
Tootsie was a real coyote, and for a time the most famous animal in South Dakota.

Neon Tootsie the Coyote

Field review by the editors.

Deadwood, South Dakota

Tootsie was a cute coyote pup found abandoned in the snowy hills outside of Deadwood in early 1947. Back then, all coyotes, cute or not, were killed as vermin. Tootsie was spared. She was friendly with people and entertainingly vocal, even for a coyote.

Street corner and Tootsie sign.
The sign stands atop the former liquor store that Tootsie called home.

Tootsie was raised inside a Deadwood liquor store named The Spot, owned by Fred and Esther Borsch. She quickly developed a following of fans. She and Fred recorded a 78 rpm record, South Dakota Tootsie, as a singing/howling duo. She had her own car in the town's annual Days of '76 parade. She even traveled to Washington, DC, and met President Eisenhower.

The Borsch's erected a custom neon sign of Tootsie atop the liquor store. For a brief time she was Deadwood's biggest celebrity, eclipsing even perennial favorite Wild Bill Hickok.

Tootsie was so popular that South Dakota's governor changed the bounty laws and made the coyote the state animal.

Tootsie died in 1959. Her memory gradually faded. But in 2014 the Spot sign was restored and returned to its original Deadwood rooftop. And the Adams Museum in town now has an exhibit about Tootsie, and sells t-shirts of the sign.

Also see: Deadwood Round-Up

Neon Tootsie the Coyote

Address:
667 Main St., Deadwood, SD
Directions:
Downtown, on the roof of a building, on the east side of Lower Main St., just south of its intersection with Lee St. Visible heading south, but not north.
Hours:
Best at night. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

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In the region:
Sundance Kid Jailed Here, Sundance, WY - 32 mi.

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