Mount Moriah Cemetery.
Wild Bill's grave and the surrounding cemetery look better now than they did 100 years ago.

Graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane

Field review by the editors.

Deadwood, South Dakota

Mount Moriah Cemetery sits on a ridge above the town of Deadwood, and has been a destination for Wild West fans ever since Wild Bill Hickok was buried there in 1879. In fact, he was re-buried there -- an impromptu reinterment engineered late one night by several of his drinking buddies -- after he'd been buried for three years in another Deadwood cemetery. According to an account in the local newspaper, Wild Bill's body "returned the same sound as a log when struck with a stick," because it had petrified -- and so had his mustache.

Calamity Jane visits Wild Bill's grave.
Calamity Jane visits Wild Bill in 1903.

Also buried in Mount Moriah are a townful of lesser Deadwood personalities with equally colorful names, such as Potato Creek Johnny, Preacher Smith, and Madam Dora DuFran.

Wild Bill grave bust.
Bronze Wild Bill

In 1891 Mount Moriah Cemetery became an official attraction when J.H. Riordan carved a red sandstone bust of Wild Bill and placed it on atop a pedestal on his grave. Souvenir hunters soon began chipping away, removing Bill's hair and nose. By 1903, when Calamity Jane returned to Deadwood to visit the grave, Wild Bill's head was completely gone. She died soon afterward, and was buried next to Wild Bill, either as a joke (Bill supposedly didn't like her) or at the urging of area businessmen, eager for another postmortem attraction.

The armless, headless statue-torso of Wild Bill eventually ended up in Deadwood's Adams Museum. For decades his grave remained an unworthy disappointment for fans of Deadwood's most famous celebrity. Then in July 2002 David Young, a retired high school art teacher, created a bronze, vandal-resistant, very photogenic replica of J.H. Riordan's original monument. It still marks Wild Bill's grave. Deadwood, now flush with casino cash, plans to keep it that way.

Also see: Deadwood Round-Up

Graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane

Mount Moriah Cemetery

Address:
10 Mount Moriah Drive, Deadwood, SD
Directions:
Mount Moriah Cemetery. From downtown US-85/Sherman St. turn east at the stoplight onto Cemetery St. Make first left onto Lincoln Ave./Mount Moriah Drive. Follow it up the hill to the Cemetery, on the right.
Hours:
Gates open daily 8-dusk (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
605-722-0837
Admission:
$2 entrance fee.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Sitting BillSitting Bill, Deadwood, SD - < 1 mi.
Wild Bill's Stone HeadWild Bill's Stone Head, Deadwood, SD - < 1 mi.
Celebrity Hotel: Relics on DisplayCelebrity Hotel: Relics on Display, Deadwood, SD - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Clinton Rock, Keystone, SD - 36 mi.

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September 27, 2020

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