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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Jennifer Cook

High above Deadwood

My husband will freely admit that one reason he wanted to live in the Black Hills of South Dakota was to have the luxury of visiting Deadwood as often as possible. David loves Old West history and there are not too many places in our country more “old west” than Deadwood. In full disclosure I will say that I am generally not a fan of anything Old West, but I will admit that I fell in love with the town thanks to the HBO series of the same name. When we visited Deadwood for the first time in 2019 I also fell in love with the area and the history of this town. David is overjoyed that I like *something* about the Old West anyway!

I am sure there will be several posts over the coming months that talk about the town of Deadwood, however, today I want to specifically share something that is high above the town. Specifically the Mount Moriah Cemetery. Unlike most cities across our country Deadwood decided to bury its dead high in the surrounding hills. Of course with land at a premium in this narrow valley the original townsfolk did not have much of a choice.

There are several famous people buried in this cemetery, however, the most famous is Wild Bill Hickock. He was killed in Deadwood while playing poker. Next to Wild Bill Hickock is Calamity Jane. When she passed away years later the people in Deadwood buried her right next to Wild Bill. It was sort of a tribute to her, and a joke to Wild Bill. I have a soft spot in my heart for Jane, so I am happy she was laid to rest next to Wild Bill even so.

For anyone who find cemeteries peaceful or enjoys walking around them, Mount Moriah is probably one of the better ones to explore. They do not allow cars in the cemetery, so you have to explore on foot. However, they have many paved roads/paths and cleared trails that take you all around this sacred land. However, what makes this cemetery even more special than most is the view. Since the land is high up in the surrounding hills you get some spectacular views of the Black Hills and the town of Deadwood. You can also see exactly how narrow the valley is, and how every possible piece of land is being used.

I will close this post to say if you want to find Seth Bullock’s grave it is set much higher than the rest of the graves in the cemetery. The town of Deadwood owes its existence to Seth, so he and his wife were buried in a place of honor. Though I will warn you it is a steep hike to reach his marker. On the day we went there was still a lot of snow on the ground.

Regardless of what brings you to the Black Hills you must make a stop in Deadwood. You can feel the history with every step along Main Street (those were David’s words not mine). However, definitely add some time to explore this beautiful cemetery, and take in some amazing views while paying your respect to those that have passed on before us.

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