On our list of things to do while in this area were the towns of Deadwood and Sturgis so one day this week we drove over to Deadwood, about 15 miles from Spearfish. Deadwood is a historic gold mining camp that was established in the 1870’s. In recent years it has been turned into “South Dakota’s entertainment capital” with over 80 gambling and entertainment establishments. The entire town has been restored and most of buildings look much like they would have in the 1870’s. We did stop at a couple of the casinos but with so many other things to see we didn’t stay long at the slot machines. One of the casinos, the “Midnight Star”, had a large collection of Kevin Cosner’s memorabilia with photos and displays of costumes he wore in dozens of his movies. We enjoyed lunch at an outdoor café with the live entertainment of a cowboy singer. One of the famous characters in the town’s history was Wild Bill Hickok. He was shot while playing cards in a saloon on Main St. and we visited his gravesite in the Mt. Moriah Cemetery on a hill overlooking the town. Buried beside him is Calamity Jane who was a famous sharp shooter in Wild Bill’s Wild West Show. The cemetery was very interesting. It is the only cemetery I have ever been to that charged admission, but only $1.00.
Sturgis was another story, not much to see except a lot of overpriced Tee shirt stores and a couple of huge biker bars. Apparently the town is pretty dead most of the year but really comes alive one week each August when the Black Hills Motorcycle Rally takes place. The rally has taken place there since 1938 and at one point in the 90’s had a record crowd of 400,000 motorcycle riders. It is really hard to imagine what that must have been like.
One surprising attraction we ran across in Spearfish was a historic fish hatchery. The fish hatchery opened in 1898 and is now part of a beautifully landscaped city park with ponds and bridges for viewing and feeding the fish. Hundreds of baby fish are kept there until they reach catchable size and are then transported to various lakes and streams throughout South Dakota. There were many interesting displays and exhibits of the history of the fish hatchery.
The weather has been just about perfect this week, it has only rained during the nights otherwise sunny and warm.