09 August 2010

Deadwood, SD - The Shooting of Wild Bill Hickok

Deadwood, SD. The most important event there is the poker game in Saloon #10 on August 2, 1876, where Jack McCall snuck up and shot Wild Bill Hickok in the back of the head. Hickok had arrived in Deadwood only a few weeks earlier, played a succession of card games, and never in his life sat with his back to the door. Until that day.

oday, the bar called Old Style Saloon #10 is neither the original saloon where Hickok was done in, nor the original location. Lots of real places and things in Deadwood are hard to come by, since most of the town was leveled in the great fire of 1879, or the medium fire of 1894, and 1948, and 1951, and 1954 (and whatever was left may have gone up in the great fire of 1987). The gulch's abundance of dry, fallen timber blessed the town with a name and cursed it with combustibility.

In the absence of anything more authentic, we visited the bar with the Death Chair. It sits in an alcove in a glass frame above Saloon #10's front door. The bar and tables were crowded with tourists. We grab dinner in the back and watch question and answer period, followed by a re-enactment of the fateful poker game. Tourists have been enlisted to sit at the card table and play parts. Shots are fired, guys run from the table, kids giggle nervously.

Wild Bill slumps dead over and over, every day, all summer long. It was a great show and dinner.

No comments: