Deadwood Honored as a Top True Western Town

DEADWOOD, S.D. (1/7/09) – The city of Deadwood was named No. 6 among True West magazine’s Top Ten True Western Towns in the magazine’s January-February issue.

The Arizona-based publication, with readers all over the western United States, honored Deadwood for its success at preserving its past and helping other Western cities to recognize their own Western heritage.

“Deadwood, S.D., does it right when it comes to historic preservation, tourism and revenue-raising,” True West’s editors wrote in a press release. “It all comes back to gambling, which played a big role in the town’s infancy — and continues to do so today.”

Despite a population of less than 1,300, Deadwood will have more than $7 million to pump into historic preservation this year, the magazine’s editors noted. That’s thanks to revenue from the 1.5 million people a year who try their luck in Deadwood’s gaming halls.

“Deadwood is unique in so many ways—including its dedication to historic preservation,” says True West Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell. “Just as important, the local folks share what they’ve learned with their counterparts from around the country. Deadwood’s work deserves all the recognition and honors it can get.”

“When a magazine devoted to preserving America’s Western heritage honors Deadwood in this way, it means a lot,” said George Milos, President of the Deadwood Chamber of Commerce. “Over the last 20 years, this city has done so much to restore our historic architecture and honor the people who built Deadwood. This kind of recognition is very gratifying.”

True West noted that in the spring of 2008, Deadwood hosted the sixth annual Deadwood Historic Preservation Symposium. Experts from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service and the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office were among the presenters.

And last summer, hundreds of Western horsemen and history buffs came by wagon to Deadwood, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the last overland wagon run to the Black Hills. The event coincided with a large firearms and Western memorabilia auction, which helped raise funds for the Days of ’76 Museum’s $6 million museum construction project.

“It is a pleasure that the city of Deadwood has been recognized for its outstanding efforts to preserve, promote and protect our rich and unique Western heritage,” said Kevin Kuchenbecker, Deadwood’s Historic Preservation Officer. He noted that Deadwood has been among True West’s Top 10 True Western Towns for at least three years in a row. “To be consistently in the top 10 is an honor,” he said.

True West editors determine winners for this annual award based on criteria demonstrating how each town has preserved its history through old buildings, museums and other institutions, events, and promotion of historic resources. The feature includes Towns to Watch for their good works in historic preservation and several legendary locales that folks should know.

Cheyenne, Wyo., was the top Western town for 2009. Past recipients were San Diego, Calif. , in 2008, Helper, Utah, in 2007 and Sheridan, Wyo., in 2006.

True West magazine is in its 56th year of leading the way in presenting the true stories of Old West adventure, history, culture and preservation. For subscriptions and more information, visit or call 888-687-1881.