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A Trail to Deadwood's Past sign.

Deadwood: Signs and Wonders

Field review by the editors.

Deadwood, South Dakota

Deadwood has a colorfully blood-soaked past, but surviving places of historical interest in town are nearly impossible to find, since most of Deadwood was leveled in the great fire of 1879, and the medium fires of 1894, and 1948, and 1951, and 1954 (and whatever was left may have gone up in the great fire of 1987). The gulch's abundance of dry, fallen timber blessed the town with a name and cursed it with a wicked combustibility.

Sign at the site of capture of the assassin.

A town like Deadwood should be a great place for historical markers, yet for years the only two in town were weathered wooden signs announcing, "Historic Site Saloon Number 10 Where Wild Bill was Shot," and "Site of Capture of the Assassin Jack McCall" -- Jack being the guy who shot Wild Bill.

Definitely worthy, but a little limited.

With the re-introduction of casinos and gambling into Deadwood, a group named Deadwood Historic Preservation was able to fund a number of interpretive panels and detailed sidewalk signs both in and outside of downtown. Less lurid than their predecessors -- which, thankfully, are still here -- they run the gamut from Deadwood's early boomtown years ("Riches from Mud," "Bonanza in the Hills") to its hellhole heyday ("The Great Flood." "Frontier Crime and Punishment") to its first tentative steps into civilization ("Generations of Change," "Civic Stability"). Booklets with a map to all the panels -- the self-guided Historic Deadwood Walking Tour -- are available at the town's various visitor information locations.

The Great Flood history panel.

Also see: Deadwood Round-Up

Deadwood: Signs and Wonders

670 Main St., Deadwood, SD
Map point is for the Jack McCall Assassin sign. Downtown, on the west side of Main St., just south of the intersection of Lee St.
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Neon Tootsie the CoyoteNeon Tootsie the Coyote, 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:
Teddy Roosevelt Friendship Tower, Deadwood, SD - 2 mi.

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