Nestled in the heart of the Black Hills of South Dakota among Ponderosa pines and a rich, diverse history is the beautiful little town of Deadwood.
Miners, gamblers, businessmen, and prostitutes rushed to this Black Hills town when gold was discovered on French Creek in the late 1800s. The town was popularized in recent years by the hit HBO series, “Deadwood,” which aired from 2004-2006. The show helped Deadwood’s most famous characters, such as Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Seth Bullock, come to life.
Living in the Black Hills, I’ve visited Deadwood multiple times over the years. The historic town is known for its good food, gambling, and old hotels. Because everything in Deadwood is so charged with energy dating back to the Gold Rush of 1876, the town is a paranormal hot spot. It’s especially fun to visit Deadwood during Halloween, when the town pays homage to the many souls who flourished and perished there.
When I visit Deadwood, I stay at the Bullock Hotel. I’m never disappointed with the spirited atmosphere that awaits me.
Seth Bullock arrived in Deadwood during the Gold Rush to maintain the peace as the town’s first sheriff. Bullock also proved to be a savvy business owner, building the Bullock Hotel on Main Street in around 1895 from a converted warehouse which had been destroyed in the Deadwood fire of 1894.
The hotel is the Deadwood’s oldest, and it has maintained 28 of its original 63 rooms. It is also Deadwood’s most notoriously haunted hotel.
Legend has it that Seth Bullock died from colon cancer in Room 211 in the year 1919. Since Bullock’s death, there have been multiple sightings of his ghost at the hotel. Guests, workers, and tourists alike have seen Bullock’s apparition, and orbs have appeared in photographs of the hotel — particularly in mirrors, where people can clearly make out the letter A.
Employees of the hotel have said that Bullock’s ghost has made himself known when they were taking breaks or humming. They felt a paranormal presence or had a glass slide off the bar and crash.
Guests experience items in their rooms being moved — sometimes even mattresses in the middle of the night. Front desk employees have said that guests have been known to check out at 2 a.m., although the energy they felt was never malicious.
The Bullock Hotel offers ghost tours on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. Many thrill-seekers and ghost-hunting groups have spent the night searching for evidence of Bullock’s spirit, including the TV crew from “American Ghost Hunter.”
I’ve stayed at the hotel several times, but I’ve never seen or felt apparitions. That doesn’t stop me from buying into the hotel’s ghostlore.
Deadwood celebrates the ghost of Bullock and other notorious characters each Halloween during Deadweird — an event featuring costume contests, music, dancing, and prizes. This year’s event takes place October 25-26, with the Monster Ball on October 25. Spirited Tours of Deadwood are also offered annually in late October, this year from October 24-26, beginning at historic Adams House. In addition to partaking in these events, Deadwood visitors can also take their own tours of Mount Moriah Cemetery, where Seth Bullock, Wild Bill, and Calamity Jane are buried.
While you’re in town seeking scares, be sure to visit Deadwood Social Club at Saloon 10 for lunch or dinner — and check out Kevin Costner’s casino and restaurant, Midnight Star. Legend has it that while Costner was shooting the film “Dances with Wolves” in the area, he fell in love with the Black Hills and laid down permanent roots.
Deadwood has a killer mix of food, drinks, gambling, and ghostly Halloween fun. This beloved South Dakota town promises to never let you down.