Deadwood, named for the dead trees found in its gulch, is a city in and the county seat of Lawrence County, South Dakota, United States. The population was 1,380 at the 2000 census. The city includes the Deadwood Historic District, a National Historic Landmark District, whose borders may be the city limits.
In early 1876, frontiersman Charlie Utter and his brother Steve led a wagon train to Deadwood containing what were deemed to be needed commodities to bolster business, including gamblers and prostitutes, which proved to be a profitable venture. Demand for women was high, and the business of prostitution proved to be a good market. Madam Dora DuFran would eventually become the most profitable brothel owner in Deadwood, closely followed by Madam Mollie Johnson. Businessman Tom Miller opened the Bella Union Saloon in September of that year.
Another saloon was the Gem Variety Theater opened April 7th, 1877 by Al Swearengen who also controlled the opium trade in the town. After the saloon was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in 1879, it burned down again in 1899, causing Swearengen to leave the town.
The town attained notoriety for the murder of Wild Bill Hickok, and remains the final resting place of Hickok and Calamity Jane, as well as slightly less famous figures such as Seth Bullock. It became known for its wild and almost lawless reputation, during which time murder was common, and punishment for murders not always fair and impartial. The prosecution of the murderer of Hickok, Jack McCall, had to be sent to retrial because of a ruling that his first trial, which resulted in an acquittal, was invalid because Deadwood was an illegal town. This moved the trial to a Lakota court, where he was found guilty and then hanged.
As the economy changed from gold rush to steady mining, Deadwood lost its rough and rowdy character and settled down into a prosperous town. In 1876 a smallpox epidemic swept through the camp, with so many falling sick that tents had to be set up to quarantine them. Also in that year, General George Crook pursued the Sioux Indians from the Battle of Little Big Horn on an expedition that ended in Deadwood, and that came to be known as the Horsemeat March.
A fire on September 26, 1879, devastated the town, destroying over 300 buildings and consuming everything belonging to many inhabitants. Without the opportunities of rich untapped veins of ore that characterized the town's early days, many of the newly impoverished left town to try their luck elsewhere.
A narrow gauge railroad, the Deadwood Central Railroad, was founded by Deadwood resident J.K.P. Miller and his associates in 1888, in order to serve their mining interests in the Black Hills. The railroad was purchased by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in 1893. A portion of the road between Deadwood and Lead was electrified in 1902 for operation as an interurban passenger system, which operated until 1924. Apart from a portion from Kirk to Fantail Junction, which was converted to standard gauge, the railroad was abandoned in 1930. The remaining section was abandoned by the successor Burlington Northern Railroad in 1984.
Some of the other early town residents and frequent visitors included Al Swearengen and his employees Dan Doherty and Johnny Burns, E. B. Farnum, Charlie Utter, Sol Star, Martha Bullock, A. W. Merrick, Samuel Fields, Harris Franklin, Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy, the Reverend Henry Weston Smith, Wild Bill Hickok, First Federal Judge Bennett, General Dawson, and Madame Canutson (woman bull-whacker)
The entire town was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1961. The pressure of development may have an effect on the historical integrity of the landmark district.
There were 669 households out of which 20.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.7% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.9% were non-families. 40.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.01 and the average family size was 2.71.
In the city the population was spread out with 19.3% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 27.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,641, and the median income for a family was $37,132. Males had a median income of $28,920 versus $18,807 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,673. About 6.9% of families and 10.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.4% of those under age 18 and 8.3% of those age 65 or over.
Deadwood Days: A Hit TV Show Proves That Some Juicy Western History-And a Really Good Villain-Can Make a Town Rich. Peter Fish Explores a Small-Town Revolution
Aug 01, 2006; This is a tale of two cities. The first is a mining camp in the Black Hills, where greed, lust, and violence kindle in such...