Still In South Dakota…..Yeah…Cemetery….Giant Bird…A Unique Room

We wake up sad to be leaving Deadwood…but…we have only a few days left to make it home and quite a distance to travel. A car trip is alot easier than riding a bike for miles….your butt gets numb and you need to take a quick break every couple of hours….that adds up over the course of a day. A 6 hour travel day quickly turns to 8 or more with all of these stops, and meals and of course, the cool things you just need to stop and explore.

After a quick breakfast, we take a look at the memorabilia displayed in the Celebrity Hotel. It was worth the stop.

You find all kinds of obscure memorabilia, things you would never think you would find in Deadwood. Let me share a few with you.

As you can see from my pictures, there are alot of unique items here. Smokey and the Bandits Trans Am, the jeep from MASH, John Waynes’ personal truck and saddle, the jockey outfit worn by Toby McQuire in Seabiscuit (remember in my earlier blog we met the horse that played Seabisbuit in Kentucky…I love my life!), James Bonds’s Aston Martin and the costume worn by Robin Williams in Hook. And this is only a snapshot of what they have on display. If ever in Deadwood, treat yourself and stop in to the Celebrity Hotel….you won’t be disappointed.

Next we wanted to see the Moriah Cemetary, just on the hill above Deadwood. We aren’t being morbid, but we do want to see some historical gravestones there.

The drive doesn’t take us too long and we arrive at the entrance to this sad but peaceful place.

Entrance to Mount Moriah Cemetery, Deadwood

Deadwood originally had two cemeteries: The Ingelside and the Catholic. I am not certain what happened to the Catholic one, but in 1880 the Ingelside cemetery closed and all of the graves with markers were moved to Mount Moriah. Any unmarked graves were left where they were, and houses eventually were built on the site. To this day, it is not uncommon for a home owner to discover bones when they are gardening.

The cemetery is divided into 6 sections: Potters Field where the bodies of the unknown, unmarked graves lay…Jewish where the large population of Jewish settlers of Deadwood are buried and all of the tombstones are in Hebrew…Mass Grave for the 11 workers that died in a horrible fire at a lumber mill in town…Childrens where the bodies of the children that died from typhoid and smallbox lay…Chinese that used to be quite large, however today it has only 2 bodies left as, per tradition, the relatives transported the bodies home to lay in rest in China…and Veteran for those that fought in the Civil War and the Indian Wars.

The cemetery is laid out in true late Victorian form and is such a peaceful place. On a plateau on top of Mont Moriah, covered in pine trees and overlooking Deadwood, it is a fitting place of rest for the folks of the town.

The pictures above show the view of Deadwood from the cemetery, a view of the landscape of the cemetery, a marker of a child named Nora, Wild Bill Hickok’s original grave in the Ingelside Cemetery and the sign at the entrance to the Chinese section. It is such an amazing place to visit and you can spend hours there trying to see everything and get a feel for the place.

At the top of the hill is the grave of Seth Bullock, honored this way as he was revered as a sheriff and businessman by the people of Deadwood. His wife is buried there too and Seth’s grave faces the Friendship Tower that I mentioned in the blog I posted right before this one.

Tombstone of Seth Bullock and his wife, Martha

Wild Bill Hickok is buried here. As I mentioned, we was interned from the Ingleside Cemetery and rests in a grave that is marked by a bust of his head. Beside him lays Calamity Jane. Her dying wish was to be buried next to Wild Bill and they made it so. Seems that Bill and Jane were not close friends, merely acquaintances, but she had a thing in her heart for him that burned til the day she died, and likely still shines bright from her grave.

The pictures above are of Wild Bill Hickoks’ grave and Calamity Jane’s grave. The last picture I did not take but I came across it and had to share…it is Calamity Jane visiting the grave of Wild Bill at the Ingelside Cemetery. I love this stuff !

There are many more notable and interesting graves to see, but it is time to move on and out of Deadwood. We ride East with the goal of getting through South Dakota….little did we realize how far it is across this state. But we will try.

The first town we pass is Eagle Butte, named after the butte of that name. A little town of only 1300 it is on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Earl Rose, the medical examiner at the assassination of John F. Kennedy is from here.

Eagle Butte, South Dakota

Everywhere we drive we see herds of buffalo….I am happy. I know the herds are not even close to what they were many years ago, but when you see 20 or 30 buffalo hanging out….that is a pretty overwhelming sight. They are never fenced in, but seem to not really care about a couple of adventurers zooming by….thankfully.

Let me just share a little about the Cheyenne River Sioux Reserve as we are driving through it. At 4200 square miles it is the 4th largest in the USA. It was created by the Federal Government in 1889 and the well known Chief Sitting Bull lived here. In 1890, several hundred of the Sioux prepared to flee the reservation. On December 16, 1890, before they had a chance to leave, the government sent in 39 Indian police and 4 volunteers to stop them….and to arrest Sitting Bull. Sitting Bull was co-operative while being arrested in his home, but when he exited his house and saw 50 of his warriors standing ready to fight for him, he decided to fight his arrest. Unfortunately, he was killed along with his son and 16 other warriors. It is a very sad end to a highly honored Chief.

Onward we ride…next passing through Gettysburg…nope not the one that you may be thinking of because that one is in Pennsylvania (and spoiler alert….I will be sharing blogs soon about my adventures and ghost experiences there…). This little town has a population of 1100 and it got its name in 1884 as most of the settlers here were Civil War veterans for the Union army. It is so small it has 2 person police force.

Gettysburg, South Dakota

The next town is Lebanon, population…wait for it…47…not even breaking the 50 mark yet. In 1885 a man named D.M. Boyle settled here, built a house, opened the first post office and named the place after the town he had travelled from…Lebanon, Indiana…Its really funny how many of the same names are used in towns all over the USA and Canada….makes for good story telling. Lebanon is home to the very first outdoor swimming pool in South Dakota. Built in 1926 the pool finally had to close in 2013 as the town cannot afford the $10,000 per year to maintain it. When asked why the townsfolk didn’t all just chip in and pay for the pool to stay open…this sage elder said, “my dear the average age in this town is 72 and there are only 3 children here…why would we spend our money on that”….fair enough my sweet lady….fair enough.

Lebanon, South Dakota….do not bring your bathing suits!

Have you ever been to a town nicknamed Carosel City? I have…its real name is Faulkton. In 1925, the C.W. Parker Company built a carosel and charged the children to go for a ride. In 1981, it was purchased by a local resident named Bob Ketterling and he let the children ride for free. When he died in 1988, the city purchased the carosel and still lets everyone, young and old, ride for free. I wanted to take a spin….but no time for that today. And as a note, I really admire this entrepreneurial spirit: finding something unique that brings people to your town who never would have known you existed otherwise and it brings magic to the lives of those that take the time to be a child again. Beautiful.

Carosel of Faulkaton, South Dakota

We stop for a bite to eat somewhere, and continue travelling through the tiny towns and now farmlands…through Rockham, Redfield and take a wrong turn down a road that leads us further South than it does East. We are now tired and decide to find a place for the night. Welcome to Huron, South Dakota…home of the worlds largest….(see picture below)…

Huron, South Dakota

Yes…you read that right….Huron is home to the worlds largest pheasant…check my bucket list…and cross this one off as done.

Since this pheasant is perched on a motel, the Dakota Inn, we decide this is as good a place as any to stay for the night. We check in and are given the bridal suite…not sure why…but I guess they figured they were giving us the best room they had. So we open the door…and…well lets just say if I get married I won’t be spending my first night as a Mrs. in this room. It was big… huge in fact, and it was relatively clean. What made it unique was the smallest bathroom in the world and the largest dining room set in the world. There was enough seating for 8 around this table, complete with matching buffet. I am not sure who I would be inviting into the bridal suite post nuptials, but it could be quite the party it seems. And the bathroom, well that was a one at a time deal and even at that you had to manouver yourself around the toilet to get in and out of the space. But, it was our home for the night and we were glad to have it.

Dakota Inn Bridal Suite, updated with a living room and smaller dining set….move in ready

We decide to head to the motels’ attached bar/restaurant for supper. We order pizza from the menu and beer. It is only 7:30 pm. We get the icy cold beer and are promptly told they have no pizza and the kitchen is closed. However, since they were immensely hospitable. they found frozen pizzas in someone’s freezer and microwaved them for us. Ah, the dinner of true adventurers. We ate and played some pool and then headed to our room to get a good nights rest. I think the giant pheasant has created some good karma for us on this night. Oh, if you are wondering why a pheasant…we are in pheasant hunting country now. Makes complete sense, doesn’t it?

We are ready to ride the next morning and with a wave goodbye to our pheasant friend, we are off, this time heading a little bit north in order to connect to our highway to go east again. We head towards Aberdeen.

Aberdeen is a city with a population of 26,000 and is known as a college town and is home to Northern State University. It was named after Aberdeen, Scotland in 1881 by a settler who was from Scotland. The Super 8 motel chain was founded here and the original one, with over 60 rooms is still operating today. L. Frank Baum was born here, the writer of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. And Matt Guthmiller was also born here. At one time he was the youngest person to circumnavigate the entire globe by air.

Northern State University, Aberdeen

Now we are back on the route we originally wanted to head east on. Small towns pop up every hour or so, but its really just you and the countryside…perfection. One small town I want to mention is Bristol. Its tiny but what makes it noteworthy is that it is part of what was the Yellowstone Trail. This was a route from the Atlantic Ocean to Montana, marked with yellow painted stones that allowed the wagon trains and settlers to find their way. You can hike most of this trail today.

Within the next few hours we reach Ortonville….Minnesota….what? Yes my friends, we have left South Dakota.

Our adventures are not over yet….not by a longshot. But I will save that for the next blog post……can you even stand the wait?

Live your Life Jan

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