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Day 22, Saturday June 10, 2017:
Sundance, Wyoming -> Deadwood, South Dakota -> Lead - Deadwood, South Dakota

Today's drive was going to be a short one and we took our time getting on our way. I was surprised to see 91 Octane No Ethanol available at the fuel pump. The drive to Deadwood South Dakota was just over an hour. The mainly flat land rolled gently over what little contour there was. It was just enough that the line of sight remained consistently interesting. Small mountains or big hills punctuated the horizon. Here we were not really seeing mountain ranges, they were more like lone eruptions or upheavals.

Deadwood is a little town that look like a small city nestled into a valley or perhaps e Gulch. The downtown, only a few blocks wide is nestled between the slopes. As we drove into town approaching noon on this bright Saturday morning the town was bustling. We drove through to the far end and scores on street parking.

This is a somewhat genuine old wet town, sum much so that in 1961 the entire town was designated a national historic landmark. The where Wild Bill Hickok was murdered and he rests here in the Mount Moriah Cemetery along with Calamity Jane. This was the site of the last major gold rush after a discovery in 1875 and that fueled a lot of the growth and activity over the years. The town has had many fires but repeatedly rebuilt. In 1964 Interstate 90 bypassed the town and things went downhill, even the brothels closed. A 1987 fire consumed another historic building. This spawned what was dubbed "the Deadwood experiment" The town was permitted to feature casinos to spawn redevelopment. They were the third location in the nation behind the state of Nevada and Atlantic City New Jersey. That is the engine behind today's traffic and prosperity but the historic backdrop remains.

New construction of lodging and casinos is apparent as you enter town but as you enter historic main street the appearance is quite genuine. This is not a dirt main street with horses on the hitching posts. It's all paved with handsome 2 or 3 story buildings shoulder to shoulder. Facades are mainly brick and I think that helps the different generations of construction blend. While some structures are older with more architectural detail the newer buildings blend in alongside.

Our first real visit was to the Wild Bill Bar. Here "tours" of the saloon on the location where Wild Bill Hickok was killed. Those words were chosen carefully. The town has been burned down a few times since then and grade level was raised due to flooding. After paying $10 for the tour our turn came and we were led downstairs to the original street level where an old west salon was created. The room included many props of the day. Our tour guide had just come out from Indiana a few weeks ago and barely knew the spiel, let alone be able for field questions. We had been tourist trapped.

The town sponsors the Deadwood Players who do various skits and activities up and down the street all day and evening. They were just getting started and Calamity jane launched into a monologue about her life in the west. This led to the sheriff getting involved in an incident and the inevitable old west gunfight in the street. It was all well done with the players wired for sound and a mobile sound cart to help everyone hear.

We were into the afternoon and lunch was calling. Something simple seemed in order and the Tin Lizzie (Casino) had billboards for a burger special and it seemed like a colorful place to visit so we did. We found that the casinos were small places. Some new and some nestles into older buildings.

We visited the Adams Museum, it included a lot of local and black hills information and artifacts. We went down to the Big Dipper for an ice cream cone and did some people watching. It's a really cool town but unless you are there to game, shop or drink it runs out of steam after a few hours. I did spot a lot of cool old fading wall art signs. Those are fun to find in these old places.

We needed a few odds and ends and headed up to the town of Lead where we found a small supermarket, really waiting, local and nice. We ran into a few youngsters that were outwardly courteous and friendly. Next door was Roundhouse Liquors with a drive-in window. The drive back and forth winding up the foothills was nice. The village of Lead looked like a nice place to wander but it was pretty much shut down and we were tired.

For dinner, we settled on Harry's Spaghetti Western Restaurant. The owners father had always wanted a spaghetti restaurant. When they decided to start one they took his recipe and named it on him with the old movie genre twist. The place was little quiet but we said what the heck, the reviews were good and it looked tidy. They do a fixed price meal. Pick you pasta, sauce, meat and salad, bread and a scoop of spumoni are all in the deal. A simple spaghetti dinner was a nice home-style change and I washed it down with Mellow Yellow, I hadn't had that stuff in decades, I was really into it late in the 1970's. The place was filling in as we ate. The place is a little quirky and it was fun watching new comers trying to figure out what they walked into. Across from Harry's was the Post Office, a majestic 3 story stone building with a columnated fašade. It's a clear indication of the past prosperity of this small town, now home to about 1200 people. After that it was back to the room to chill and wrap up the day.


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Created May 14, 2017