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HBO's Deadwood - Places in the Camp - Page 4

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Deadwood From Mt. Moriah, 1888

Deadwood From Mt. Moriah, 1888

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The Bella Union TheaterBella Union Theatre - Though the Bella Union did exist in Deadwood it was not a wild and wooly gambling hall, but actually advertised itself as "Entertainment for ladies and families" and "Entertainment without ordinary vulgarities of show." The Bella Union was also not owned and operated by Cy Tolliver, but rather a man named Tom Miller. Though more "upscale" than the other entertainment venues in the camp, it did, however, offer liquor and a few gambling tables.


Featuring stage performances, trapeze acts, wrestling tournaments, sparring expeditions, and more, The Bella Union Theatre, built by Tom Miller in 1876, was the grandest place in Deadwood. With 30' ceilings, 3 grand entrances, 17 private boxes, and stretching some 120 feet in length, her grand private reception room became the central meeting place for the town folks of Deadwood. However, the Bella Union's life was short as just two years after the Bella Union was built, Miller went bankrupt and the theatre was dismantled in November, 1878 and the scenery, properties, and fixtures sold. The large lower floor became a grocery store and storage facility, while the upper floor became a meeting room called the Mechanics Hall. Perkins and Company attempted to resurrect the theatre's once great popularity by producing a new play in the old Mechanics Hall in January, 1879. However, as published in the Black Hills Daily Times, the town couldn't support yet another theater by that time.


Deadwood Bank - There was obviously no bank owned an operated by Alma Garrett, as she didn't exist. The first bank in Deadwood was actually the Stebbins, Post & Co. Bank, which opened its doors in 1877. The next year, a reorganization resulted in the creation of the First National Bank of Deadwood. There is no mention in history that either Seth Bullock or Sol Star were affiliated with the First National Bank. However, another bank was started in June, 1880, for which Seth Bullock was named President. However, just seven years later, on February 17, 1887, the bank was closed. There is also no mention that Sol Star was involved in this bank either.




Gem Saloon - Actually called the Gem Variety Theater, much of Deadwood's first season's action is portrayed at the Gem Saloon. However, the year is 1876 and the Gem Saloon didn't open until April of 1877. In 1876, Al Swearengen owned a very small tavern that was called the Cricket Saloon. When Swearengen did open Gem Variety Theater in 1877 it became one of the city's most infamous amusement houses. Swearengen lured women from the East with promises of adventure in the West, but those who accepted soon found themselves the victims of a white slave trade. The Gem and its debased women soon garnered a reputation as the vilest of the vile in a city without law.


Grand Central Hotel -  This hotel did exist in Deadwood, but was never owned by E.B. Farnum, nor George Hearst, and was obviously never attempted to be purchased by Alma Garrett, since she didn't even exist. Built by Charles H. Wagner, it was one of the first hotels to open in June, 1876. What is true in the Deadwood Series, is that Lucretia "Aunt Lou" Marchbanks was the Kitchen Manager at the Grand Central, almost from day one. In no time, the hotel, which really wasn’t so grand, was better known for its great food served in its restaurant and Lucretia Marchbanks had become better known as "Aunt Lou.” On July 4, 1876, the Grand Central Hotel hosted Deadwood's first ball, where nine "proper" women showed up to enjoy a little dancing and Aunt Lou's great food. Nine "proper" women was probably close to all of them in the camp at the time, as most of the "ladies" in the Deadwood's early days, were of the "sporting" variety.

In September, General Crook visited Deadwood and stayed at the Grand Central. Two months later, yet another ball was thrown in December to celebrate the coming of the Telegraph.  Obviously successful, another story and a new front were added to the hotel in July, 1877 and shortly thereafter, Wagner retired and leased the hotel to W.H. Fanton.


When Deadwood got the first telephone exchange in the territory in March, 1878, a major celebration was held at the hotel. However, two disasters would soon strike the hotel. In April, a large thunderstorm caused major flooding of the building and a fire in the rear of the building caused much damage the same month.


After only two years of operation, the Grand Central Hotel went on the auction block July 1878. With the sale, portions of the building were leased for retail space and various managers would run the remaining facilities as a boarding house up and until the big fire of September 1879. The hotel was renovated into a 70 bed furnished lodging house and served as host to the many soldiers visiting the area from Ft. Meade. The lodging house experienced a slow decline over the years, suffering its final demise in 1892 when the building is raised to make room for new development.


Homestake Mine - The Homestake claim was discovered by brothers, Moses and Fred Manuel, and Hank Harney in April, 1876. In June, 1877, the Homestake claim and another totaling 10 acres were purchased from the Manuels for $70,000 by a group of mining men, including George Hearst. Later that year, in November, the Homestake Mining Company is incorporated and over the next few years, Hearst purchased additional claims, obtained water rights on nearby Whitewood Creek, and began to assemble the Homestake empire. By the summer of 1879, the Homestake operation consisted of ten major and several smaller mines, 540 stamps in six mills, a huge assortment of buildings and over 500 employees.

The Homestake Mine would become the basis of the Hearst financial empire and Deadwood's sister city Lead's largest employer for 126 years. Before its closing in 2002 Homestake Gold Mine was the oldest, largest and deepest mine in the Western Hemisphere, reaching more than 8000 feet below the town of Lead.  



Nuttall & Mann's #10 Saloon


Homestake Mine outside Deadwood, South Dakota, 1889

Homestake Mine in 1889.

This image available for photographic prints and downloads HERE!

It was here that Wild Bill Hickok was shot by Jack McCall on August 2, 1876. The prior evening when Hickok was playing poker with several men, including McCall, Jack lost heavily. Wild Bill generously gave him back enough money to buy something to eat, but advised him not to play again until he could cover his losses. This obviously humiliated McCall who would take his revenge the next day.


The next afternoon when Wild Bill entered Nuttall & Mann's Saloon he found Charlie Rich sitting in his preferred seat. After some hesitation, Wild Bill joined the game, reluctantly seating himself with his back to the door and the bar---a fatal mistake. Jack McCall, drinking heavily at the bar, saw Hickok enter the saloon, taking a seat at his regular table in the corner near the door.


McCall slowly walked around to the corner of the saloon where Hickok was playing his game. From under his coat, McCall pulled a double-action .45 pistol, shouted "Take that!” and shot Wild Bill Hickok in the back of the head, killing him instantly. Hickok had been holding a pair of eights, and a pair of Aces, which has ever since been known as the "dead man's hand."


The location of the original #10 Saloon was at 624 Main Street, which today is occupied by the Wild West Winners Casino. The original Number Ten saloon burned down in Deadwood's tragic fire of 1879 and then relocated across the street. In it's place was built the second I.H. Chase Building in 1898, which housed a clothing store until 1903. When Chase moved out, Frank X. Smith opened a beer hall, which proudly advertised itself as a "metropolitan resort." Later it housed the Eagle Inn, the sign of which still hangs on the upper portion of the building. Downstairs in the Wild West Casino is an interpretive site that tells visitors all about the curse of the dead man's hand, and the man who made it famous.


 Original site of Number 10 Saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota

The Wild West Winners Casino is the location of the original Number Ten Saloon in Deadwood. No known photo of the original saloon exists. Kathy Weiser, July, 2006.


Wild Bill Hickok shot by Jack McCall

In the basement of the Wild West Winners Casino is a interpretive display of the what happened on the day that Wild Bill Hickok was killed. Kathy Weiser, July, 2006.


The Wild West Winners Casino also encompasses the Bullock-Clark Building which is the site of the original Bella Union Theater as well as the Schwarzwald building, which was long used as a furniture store. The Bullock-Clark building was consumed by fire in 1894 and the two parties rebuilt a single structure on their two lots. Later the combined building would be opened up on the lower floor and utilized as an automobile showroom.


These buildings later served as part of Deadwood's infamous Green Door District. On the upper levels were the original location of several of Deadwood's brothels, including Pam's Purple Door, one of the last to close in Deadwood in 1980. Today, the second story windows are decorated with scantily dressed mannequins, who beckon to the street below, much the real painted ladies of Deadwood's past once did.


Bullock-Clark Building in Deadwood, South Dakota in 1925

The Bullock-Clark Building in 1925, photo courtesy

 Adams Museum.


Wild West Winners Casino, Deadwood, South Dakota

The Wild West Winners Casino is in the old Bullock-Clark Building. Up until 1980, the upstairs rooms were used as an active brothel. Photo courtesy  Bullock Hotel Properties.


Across the street at  657 Main Street is the recreated Old Style Saloon #10. Here, you will not only find a real saloon, restaurant, and gambling den, but also a "saloon museum" where historical and mining camp artifacts, spanning over 100 years, are exhibited along the walls. One display shows what is allegedly the original "death chair" where Hickok was shot, but according to our sources, it is actually one that is similar. The saloon also features a Bill Hickok, Jack McCall and the other players recreating the shooting every day at 3:00 p.m.


Saloon #10 in Deadwood, South Dakota

The Old Style Saloon #10 Saloon today, photo courtesy Saloon No. 10


Wild Bill Hickok's alleged death chair in the Number 10

Wild Bill Hickok's alleged death chair in the Number 10

Saloon, July, 2006, Kathy Weiser.


Yet to Come?


There are other important events in Deadwood's history that have not yet been shown. We can only wait and watch to see how and if the series handles these events.

  • In June 1877 George Hearst, who had earlier sent an agents to offer a bond to owners of the Homestake claim, buys the 4 ˝  acre claim for $70,000.

  • George Hearst and his partners incorporated their holdings as The Homestake Mining Company in California on November 5, 1877.

  • After losing the election in 1877 for Justice of the Peace, he and his family stayed in Deadwood only about one more year before relocating to Chicago, Illinois.

  • Obviously not satisfied with the current state of law enforcement, vigilantes begin to take the law into their own hands in 1878.

  • A new preacher, Father Mackin, comes to town to replace the dead Preacher Smith.

  • Martha Bullock introduces art and culture to the town.

  • Dan Doherty and Al Swearengen have a falling out and Dan opens his own saloon.

  • The Bella Union shuts down in 1878, the building becomes a grocery store and meeting room.

  • By 1878, Al Swearengen's brother, Winfield, is also living in Deadwood.

  • In 1879 a disastrous fire destroys 300 buildings in Deadwood including the Gem Theater and Star & Bullock's hardware store. Both businesses are rebuilt.

  • Sol Star becomes mayor of Deadwoodin 1884.

  • Sol Star and Seth Bullock buy a section of land, begin ranching and start a new town called Belle Fourche.

  • Seth and Martha Bullock have two more children. (They already have a small daughter, who has not appeared in the series.)

  • Seth Bullock meets Theodore Roosevelt in 1884

  • On July 3, 1889, Al Swearengen marries Odelia Turgeon. However, by December of that same year, she has obtained a warrant for his arrest after he repeated struck and choked her, and threatened her life. Al skips town, but later returns and the case against him is dropped. By July, of 1890, Al files for divorce against his wife on the grounds of adultery.


Continued Next Page

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