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Deadwood, South Dakota Wins Honors as a 2009 Top Western Town by True West Magazine

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DEADWOOD, S.D. - Deadwood, S.D., does it right when it comes to historic preservation, tourism and revenue raising. It all comes back to gambling, which played a big role in the town's infancy - and continues to do so today.

That’s why Deadwood is #6 among True West Magazine’s 2009 Top Ten True Western Towns. Cheyenne, Wyoming won the top award. 

This year, for example, Deadwood will have more than $7 million to pump into historic preservation, a budget that is the envy of most (if not all) Western towns. That’s courtesy of 1.5 million visitors who try their luck at the gambling houses (hey, Wild Bill Hickok did the same back in 1876). Not bad for a town with just 1,293 residents. 

And it’s put to good use. In the spring of 2008, for example, folks from the local Adams Museum & House as well as National Trust officers and architectural historians attended Deadwood’s annual preservation conference. A few months later, Western horsemen and history buffs to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the last overland wagon run to Deadwood. And an auction of historic items brought more money to the Days of ’76 Museum’s $6 million campaign to pay for a new facility.

And there was much, much more. 

“Deadwood is unique in so many ways—including its dedication to historic preservation,” says True West Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell. “Just as important, the local folks share what they’ve learned with their counterparts from around the country. Deadwood’s work deserves all the recognition and honors it can get.” 

Past top town recipients are San Diego, California (2008), Helper, Utah (2007) and Sheridan, Wyoming (2006).  

True West editors determine winners for this annual award based on criteria demonstrating how each town has preserved its history through old buildings, museums and other institutions, events, and promotion of historic resources. 

The feature includes Towns to Watch for their good works in historic preservation and several legendary locales that folks should know. 

True West magazine is in its 56th year of leading the way in presenting the true stories of Old West adventure, history, culture and preservation. For subscriptions and more information, visit or call 888-687-1881. 

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