Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I wrote a little about how Mt. Rushmore National Park has changed with the construction (1995-1998) of a parking structure, a useless information center, restrooms, restaurant and Ice cream shop, a gift shop the size of a Piggly Wiggly, Avenue of (State) Flags and Grand View Terrace with the actual Visitor Center below all finished in varying shades of gray granite.

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The monstrosity in the foreground is the complex described above.

The entire town of Deadwood is designated a National Historic Landmark.  Sounds good, right?  The town is preserved as it  was, right? Not so, I’m afraid.  I don’t know when they got their Landmark Status but there is a mixture of old and newer in Deadwood. To me there has been little effort to retain the feel of the old west. A Deadwood and Mt. Moriah Cemetery tour bus is allowed to park almost in front of Saloon No. 10 where Wild Bill was shot.  A sign hanging on the building where Jack McCall, Hickock’s, murderer was captured is all that distinguished this as a part of Deadwood’s history as the building is vacant, it’s grimy windows watching cars zip by.  In fact there were many vacant buildings. The ones that weren’t vacant were touristy gift shops that all touted the same items.  Oh, by-the-way, Kevin Costner has a restaurant and casino on Main Street Deadwood, called the Midnight Star—his windows are dirty, too.

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Saloon No. 10 where Wild Bill Hickok was killed.

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This framed “Dead Man’s Hand” is located in Saloon No. 10. I don’t believe these are the actual cards as years ago the cards did not have numbers on them.

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This is what you didn’t see in the photo of Saloon No. 10 above. Very tacky.

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Site of the capture of Jack McCall is vacant and for sale.

And then there were the casinos.  Every hotel and eatery had slots and many had poker, blackjack and more. It seems, if you can afford the permit, anyone can have gambling in their establishments in South Dakota. We stopped for gas and the station had an annex with slots. 

We parked in a free parking lot and took the trolley for $1 around town.  All the passengers except us got off to try their luck.  One guy, who obviously had imbibed too much, said he dropped $60 that day and that he gambles 2-3 times a week. 

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Oh don’t expect a shootout reenacted on the streets of Deadwood after Labor Day. And we were told that Saloon No. 10 had would reenact the shooting of Wild Bill at 3 p.m., so we double-timed it there only to find that the Travel Channel was filming and there would be no 3 p.m and most likely no 5 p.m. murder. We went back to the Deadwood Visitor Center and I mentioned it to the attendant and she had not been informed.

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Mt. Moriah Cemetery where we found the graves of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane changed also.  Apparently Wild Bill’s grave was damaged by souvenir hunters so both graves have a fence enclosing them.  A monument with a bust of Wild Bill replaces the original headstone on his grave. 

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There is change of another kind in western state forests—dead pine trees. Vast areas have been devastated by this little bug and nothing can be done to stop it.  Many areas have been logged, as the lumber is still good, in an effort to slow the spread.  The plan is to plant a mixture of tree species so in the future should one species be killed off the whole forest isn’t destroyed.

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