Deadwood, set in a deep hollow within the Black Hills, was once renowned for being one of the West's wildest gold rush towns. Today it is a National Historic Landmark and offers an entertaining recreation of its past, complete with sawdust-strewn saloons, gaming tables and orchestrated gun fights.
Gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1876 and within months 6,000 gold diggers had arrived, each hoping to strike it rich. They were quickly followed by outlaws and other frontier types, among them Wild Bill Hickok, who was murdered here in 1876, and his side-kick Calamity Jane, an illiterate alcoholic and Wild West show performer. Both are buried in the town's Mount Moriah cemetery.
Just outside town Mount Rushmore National Memorial is world-famous for its portrayal of four US Presidents, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt. Begun in 1927, it took 12 years to blast and craft the monolithic figures from solid granite. Each head is around 60 feet long from chin to crown, and Lincoln's nose is a massive 18 feet long. In 1939 the Sioux Native Americans decided to create a monument to honor their great heroes too, and instigated the creation of the hugely impressive Crazy Horse Memorial by Korczak Ziolkowski that stands nearby. This enormous sculpture is still a work in progress but aims to be the world's largest when it is eventually finished.
Nearby Badlands National Park is also well worth visiting for its spectacularly colored and eroded rock formations, and for its remarkably preserved fossils. Adjacent to the park lies the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the second largest in the US, where a monument commemorates the massacre of Native Americans by the US Army at Wounded Knee in 1890. Other nearby attractions include Wind Cave National Park, and Custer State Park where elk, bighorn sheep, wild donkeys and bison thrive.
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