PIERRE, S.D. – The historic city of Deadwood derives its name from dead trees which engulfed the canyon at the time of its founding, but its legends are far from dead.
Deadwood originated as an illegal settlement. The allure of fortune and fame was too great for many, and soon Deadwood was one of the most populated and infamous outlaw towns in the West. However, it may never have acquired its legendary reputation had it not been for Charlie Utter’s wagon train, which arrived in Deadwood Gulch in 1876.
Utter’s aim was to create a fortune by assembling a proper settlement for the influx of fortune seekers flocking to the Black Hills in search of gold. As a result, Deadwood became notorious for its lawlessness, promises of gold, and famous western figures such as Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Seth Bullock, who made the ruckus town of Deadwood their home and final resting place.
The spirit of the Old West continues to embody present-day Deadwood. The historic city has modernized while holding onto its Wild West roots, and it continues to live on as a present-day gaming and visitor destination. In 1989, Deadwood became the third place in the nation to legalize gambling and will celebrate its 20th anniversary of gaming this year.
The Marks of History series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism designed to highlight historical markers all across South Dakota. Click on the special “Marks of History” link at www.MediaSD.com
to access the complete list of articles.
The Marks of History series is part of Goal 1 of the 2010 Initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota and Goal 4 to enhance history and arts as a tool for economic development and cultural tourism in South Dakota. The Office of Tourism serves under the direction of Richard Benda, Secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development.