Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 19 Wyatt’s hide-away Campground Deadwood, Broken Boot Gold Mine, Mount Moriah Cemetery (Boot Hill), Geographical Center of the Nation Belle Four

Captain’s Blog
June 21, 2009
Our plans for a quiet evening yesterday were dashed when the CG began filling with lots of MH’s and people. Ron insisted a wedding was being held but I think it was a family reunion and anniversary combined. The people next to us had three kids that were screaming and banging in the rental MH the entire time they were there. It sounded like they were jumping off the furniture.

Around 7 PM the band started and they were pretty good, playing a lot of songs we like. I’m not sure when the party ended but this morning most everyone was headed out by 10 AM.

Our plan for the day is to drive the 77 miles to Deadwood and take in the town. Oophs, did I mention that the 77 miles was actually 22 miles. It seems the Captain put in a stop at Rapid City adding additional miles. We had already been to Rapid City and were at least forty miles west. We drove through Deadwood in the MH and of course no place to park. Ron gets all stressed and then wants to forget Deadwood and the trip to the geographical center of the country in Belle Fourche.

Before heading out of Deadwood through those narrow roads we stopped at a place called Broken Boot Gold Mine. A trip is not a trip unless we spend time underg
round or at a waterfall. The mine was in business for several decades without much luck mining gold – it never did produce what had been hoped with pyrite being the main substance mined.

The mine is huge with maze-like corridors. The smell of sulpha was particularly strong. It is all over the cave walls and ceilings, very thick and difficult to remove if you get any on you. Gold mines were mined a little differently then coal and copper mines but the end result the same. This mine goes down 800 feet with the average temp between 45and 62 degrees year round.

The mine three miles down the road is closed but was mined down to 8000 feet with the temp at that dept being 114 degrees. They were only able to get the temp down to 90 degrees using two huge cooling units. It would be tough to work in that environment. That mine hit what was called the “Mother Load” of gold.

OK, now Ron is bummed out because of his miscalculation and he is willing to throw in the towel and forget touring Deadwood and the other attractions in the area. Being such a sweetie I did not make fun of his mapping error and suggested that we get a nearby CG and not just give up the things we came to see because he was mad at himself. He conceded and we found a very centrally located CG that fit our needs.

Hissy-fit out of the way we settled in at Wyatt’s, had lunch and headed back to Deadwood. It was much easier to get around and find a parking spot with the Jeep.
We walked through Deadwood admiring much of the architecture of the time. Most of the old buildings are now casinos. It was amazing to walk the streets and with almost every storefront a casino.

Deadwood was named because of the dead timber on the surrounding hills. The discovery of gold in the Black Hills brought thousands of sober, hardworking people to the Deadwood area. Some residents were quite colorful including James Butler Hickok (Wild Bill) and Martha “Calamity Jane” Canary.

We stopped at the site of the assassination of Wild Bill Hickok at the #10 Saloon. It was interesting to learn that he was not sitting in his usual seat with his back against the wall on the night of his murder. He always sat with his back against the wall to avoid being shot in the back and from this position could monitor who walked in the front and side door of the saloon. On this day another poker player was sitting in Wild Bill’s usual seat. He had been winning and since most gamblers are superstitious he refused to give up his winning seat. Wild Bill looked around and sat in a chair with his back to the door. When Jack McCall came in they exchanged hellos and Wild Bill felt comfortable and resumed his poker. The night before Wild Bill had won all of Jack McCall’s money at a poker match and not realizing Jack was furious did not feel threatened by him. Bad move on his part because without warning Jack McCall pulled out his pistol and shot Wild Bill in the head killing him instantly. Jack was later tried twice acquitted once by a hastily convened miners’ court but at a second trial by a regular court that found him guilty, sentenced to death and hanged for the murder.

Then it was on to “Boot Hill” or the Mount Moriah Cemetry to view the site of Wild Bill’s

burial site. Mount Moriah sits atop a beautiful hillside –very steep hillside – overlooking the town of Deadwood. The site of Wild Bill’s grave is surrounded by a high metal fence to keep people out. Some Wild Adventure Vehicle?--->

Of interest is that right beside Wild Bill’s gravesite is the burial site of Calamity Jane. She is said to have requested to be buried next to him. Calamity Jane lived more then most in her 53 short years. She worked on a bull train, performed in a wild -west show and was a prostitute of little repute- most assume because of her appearance. Most historians believe that her claim to being Wild Bill’s sweetheart was a figment of her imagination. Despite all this she was a kind person who devoted herself to acts of charity and caring for the sick. She died in a mining camp from a variety of illnesses among them, acute alcoholism. She was granted her dying wish and lies buried next to Wild bill.

The cemetery was quite beautiful and a walk uphill most of the way but worth the effort. In the cemetery overlooking the town is the American flag. This may not sound unusual but the flag flies twenty-four hours a day. The town received permission to fly the flag continuously to honor all our military past and present from the federal government.

We returned via Spearfish Canyon an absolutely gorgeous canyon with the walls high above our heads. Every turn presented us with more beauty and ooohs and aaahs from us. En route we stopped and took a two mile round trip hike to see the very beautiful Roughlock Falls via the nature trail.


The walk was great and the scenery equally as great.and when we reached the falls we were not disappointed. We noticed people entering the area of the falls from a different direction and discovered that there was a parking lot outside the falls with about a 300 foot walk. Oh well, the one mile hike back to our car was what we really needed anyway.
Further down the road within the canyon was another beautiful waterfall called Bridal Veil. I guess every state has a Bridal Veil falls.

Our next stop was at the Belle Fourche visitor center to view the monument built to distinguish the geographical center of the nation. Of course finding the monument was no easy task. Despite the notoriety associated with the location there is a definite lack of signage. The monument is quite beautiful but difficult to photograph. Then it was back to the campground to prepare for tomorrow’s adventure to Devil’s Tower, Wyoming.

Center of the Nation LINK:

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