Deadwood was born in the wake of the discovery of gold in the Black Hills during the 1874 Custer Expedition. The roaring camp was born alongside a creek filled with gold. It was packed with miners, opportunists, cutthroats, gamblers, prostitutes, pimps, bar owners and businessmen eager to share the gold.
The town boomed for several years but three massive fires and continued economic hard times slowed its growth by the end of the 1800s. By the mid-20th century, it was a dusty, somewhat forgotten footnote in Western lore. Tourists stopped, but the town itself struggled to pay its bills and keep businesses and people. In 1989, gambling was reintroduced and a new Deadwood was born. The town became filled with casinos and shops catering to tourists.
The HBO series Deadwood, which focused on those early, colorful years, helped boost Deadwood and lure more people. While the future remains bright, the northern Black Hills town is still tightly tied to its past. Deadwoods fame came in large part because of the colorful characters who helped settle the town. Some lived there for a few days, others for years. Some died violent deaths, others lived to be old enough to spin tales of the wild and wooly settlement years.