On our way to Mt. Rushmore (Rapid City, SD), we met up again with our buddies, Steve and Kat, in Sheridan, WY and caravanned to Rapid City, SD. We enjoyed touring the sites and spending time with them for about 10 days before they travelled east and we headed south.
One day as Greg and I finished some personal business in the city, the sky turned black and dropped ping-pong sized white balls, pounding our little tow car. What the Hail! Cars took cover under trees and overhangs driving over curbs and lawns. So, as they say, when in Rome….we did the same. The white balls bounced on the lawns, ricocheted off trees and smattered our car relentlessly. “Rivers” of water flowed over the streets. Greg decided the “seek cover strategy” was not working and we headed for higher ground. Ten minutes later, we found ourselves under open, blue skies. Guess we’re not in Kansas (or Reno for that matter) anymore!
Another day, we “kidnapped” Kat, leaving Steve to tend to his work, and visited the historic mining town of Deadwood, SD. Rich in rowdy history and present day drama, it begs the question: “What do Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Kevin Costner have in common? Well, let’s see, Wild Bill and Kevin are handsome gents, but Jane…. No, that’s not it…..
Wild Bill (James Butler Hickok, former U.S. Army Scout/Detective and Kansas City Marshall) travelled to the town in a group including Calamity Jane (born Martha Canary in 1856) and met his demise in Deadwood. Shot in the back of the head on August 2, 1876 during a card game in the No. 10 Saloon after arriving only six weeks prior and evidently winning too many hands, he is now buried in Deadwood’s Mt. Moriah Cemetery.
Jane stayed on and nursed many residents during the smallpox epidemic of 1878 (along with carrying on with her other infamous antics!). Reportedly, her dying wish was to be buried next to Wild Bill. Rumors of their romance are reported to be just that. John Gray, an affluent resident granted her wish and paid for her burial because…..she cared for his son who survived the epidemic.
Kevin Costner filmed a great portion of the Academy Award-winning movie, Dances with Wolves near Deadwood. He owns the Midnight Star casino and restaurant on Main Street and developed the $6 million visitor exhibit at the north end of town called Tatanka: the Story of the Bison. Recently, he listed some of his other holdings for sale, but not these. He is known for his loyalty to the area and visits frequently, but NOT when we were there! Greg and I watched the HBO dramatic series of Deadwood so the visit was quite a treat! If you enjoy old mining town history, research Deadwood and especially, Seth Bullock, first sheriff, rancher, Rough Rider and personal friend of Teddy Roosevelt. Seth is buried in Deadwood, outside of the cemetery grounds, and his ghost frequents his upscale Bullock Hotel. So often, that Unsolved Mysteries filmed a special about his appearances. Yes, Deadwood is definitely a place where rowdy history meets present day drama.
Forty years ago, I visited the Crazy Horse Monument with my family. Yes, I am that old! Progress is certainly evident since then but much is left to be done. For perspective, please note that this monument is funded by private donations only (no government funding) and is much larger than Mt. Rushmore (the complete Rushmore monument would fit into the carving of Chief Crazy Horse’s head). I am sure I will not live to see the completion of this monumental task. It is worth a visit and the visitor/interpretive center provides a wealth of Native American historical and cultural information.
More to follow…wrapping up Rapid City