We had left Mount Rushmore quite late and I really do NOT like driving in the dark. Assuming we might just stop in to a hotel in a small town on the way through the Black Hills, my son and I drove up and down these dark hills (mountains) when the rain started to fall. I’ll tell you what, my nerves were raw by the time we pulled into Deadwood, South Dakota, home of casinos, gambling and the place known for the death of Wild Bill Hickok.
Every place we pulled into up to that point had no vacancies and let this be a caution to any of you Rushmore-tourists. Book your lodging ahead of time! For this epic journey that my son and I made, we wanted to be free to wander…and not to stay so close to a schedule that we didn’t enjoy the freedom of a good exploration of the land around us. We had titled this trip, our own Manifest Destiny and were traveling west with open minds.
When we arrived at Deadwood, however, it was almost one in the morning…my son begged me to pull over as I tried to maneuver the streets of this strange little town, after a full day of driving. We were worried that even here, we might be sleeping in the van, but on the outskirts of main street, came upon the Bullock Express! I am laughing my head off as I type those words…the place was as welcoming and charming as the words conjure.
Now…for those of you familiar with Deadwood, you would know that the Historic Bullock Hotel is, in fact, opulent…beautiful and full of history. We, on the other hand, were in the Bullock Express and of course, there is NO website listed anywhere for this establishment.
Suffice it to say that I am posting a review from Trip Adviser that says it all!
“We stayed at the Bullock Express 4th of July of this year. It really was a dive and all we could do was laugh about it, but we looked at pictures on Google Earth and read reviews and knew what we were getting into before hand. The thing is, we were budget traveling and during that time of year hotels in SD are truly expensive. Since we were more interested in sight-seeing and hiking we didn’t mind roughing it for the 3 nights we spent there. Still, if it were any other time of year other than a major holiday, I would have truly feared for my safety. As it were, the hotel was filled with like-minded budget travelers.
Lets start with aesthetics. The hotel would not be out of place as an inner city dive. The stairs and walkway for the 2nd floor (all rooms have outside access), are creaky, and the paint on the wood is beyond peeling. The bathroom in our room had a pink shower insert and commode. It was 1960’s pink! The toilet wouldn’t flush, but they did send someone to fix it. Our room was on the second floor tucked back in a hole that was not lit adequately, the perfect spot for a mugging. The “office” is a casino, check in, and laundromat combined. And the office actually CLOSES at like 10 pm. I mean, locked doors and all. There is a on-call service if you have a problem after it closes (locked out, faulty toilet, etc) so you’ll have to call in and wait, but you’re on your own otherwise. The bed slept nice and I think our room was one of their pet free rooms so no issues there. Still, we couldn’t help but laugh about it. It was adequate for what it was, but if you have the extra money, stay somewhere else.
(P.S. do not confuse this hotel with the Bullock Inn that’s in Deadwood proper). It appears to be a much nicer establishment.”
All of this aside, when we woke, the town appeared to be other-worldly and it came with quite a few brochures, sharing folklore of the west. This morning I decided to include Deadwood in my list of travel locations simply because I was researching the Dead Rabbit gang, having watched the Gangs of New York the other evening. There is recent speculation that Jack McCall may have been unjustly executed for the killing of Wild Bill, when it may have been the doing of the Dead Rabbit gang. Something for you to read about.