Few places encapsulate the mystic of the American West like DEADWOOD, a Gold Rush town with a spectacular setting and a pantheon of iconic former residents such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Yet the truth is that Deadwood was only briefly the wild town of legend (the Gold Rush was over by 1877), and by the 1880s it was a prosperous trade and supply centre. Only in the 1920s was it consciously developed into a parody of the “Wild West”, but by the 1980s Deadwood was virtually bankrupt; it was only the legalization of gaming and casinos in 1989 that saved it. Though its handsome buildings are now wonderfully preserved (most of the Wild West tack is long gone and the whole town is a National Historic Landmark), and elegant houses line the slopes, casinos now dominate business here, making it something of a year-round resort – adjust your expectations accordingly and Deadwood can still be lots of fun.

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