This 1895 upscale Hotel can be found
on Main Street, in the historical downtown section of Deadwood, along with
other buildings from that same era.
Main Street, Deadwood, South Dakota 57732.
1-800-336-1876 * www.heartofdeadwood.com/bh.htm
The city of Deadwood received its
name because of the dead trees which were prevalent in the narrow canyon
(Deadwood Gulch) where the main streets of the city were built. Main and
Sherman streets were built in the bottom of the canyon, while many other
streets were built into the steep canyon sides.
Deadwood was officially incorporated
in 1876, because of the discovery of gold. Deadwood during this period
of time was described as being a "hell-roaring camp," complete
with an assortment of bad ones, people with low character and rowdies
heard about in the wild west legends. There wasn't even an elected, official
sheriff. The incident which caused the demand for law and order was when
ruffian Jack McCall became a cowardly hitman and shot Wild Bill Hickok
in the back of the head while Wild Bill was playing cards at a gambling
table. Wild Bill had cleaned McCall's clock at the card table the day
before, but had given McCall back some money for breakfast as an act of
kindness. No deed of kindness goes unpunished, goes the old saying!
Seth Bullock (1849-1919)
Enter front and center: Seth Bullock,
a straight-shooting, experienced, disciplined, brave businessman, conservationist,
lawman and outstanding member of society who was appointed sheriff, on
his second day in town. First thing he did was to deputize a team of some
fearless men, who put the bad ones and trouble makers out of business
without too much trouble at all. Seth Bullock was described as a tall,
steely-eyed man of principle and high character with an imposing appearance
that commanded instant respect. He had such "piercing gray eyes that
his gaze could stop fights." People knew he was a man of action who
wouldn't hesitate to uphold the law, and would haul offenders into a jail
cell in no time of all. Looking at his picture, one can see why folks
would think twice about getting into trouble! Yes indeed! He and his deputies
whipped everyone into shape, making way for civilized society.
It isn't surprising that under the
leadership of Seth Bullock that this dangerous, wild gold town became
civilized and lawful in a short period of time. Seth Bullock was born
in Ontario, the son of a retired British Major George Bullock and his
Scottish wife. Seth was strictly raised, and the concepts of right and
wrong, being self-disciplined, the importance of making an honest living,
fulfilling your potential and standing up for principles were all definitely
drilled into young Seth. Seth may not of appreciated it at the time, but
Seth would've made his parents proud of him by the way he lived his life
and what he accomplished in his lifetime.
More About young Seth Bullock -
At the age of 18, in 1867, he left
home and went to Montana. He was elected as a Republican Senator in the
Territorial Senate of Montana from 1871-72 at the age of 22. Seth introduced
the resolution requesting that the United States Congress establish Yellowstone
National Park, which came to pass in 1872.
In 1873, Seth Bullock was elected
Sheriff of the Montana territory in Lewis and Clark County. He became
an auctioneer and a commission merchant in Helena. He and Sol Star started
a partnership in the hardware business, as well as becoming the Chief
Engineer of the Helena Fire Dept.
In 1876, when Deadwood sprung up as
a gold rush town, Bullock and Star took their hardware business to Deadwood,
though he had the good sense to temporarily send his wife Martha and their
baby daughter back to Michigan as Deadwood wasn't a place to raise children
yet; just make some money. This deplorable state of affairs changed after
Seth became sheriff! Martha came back to Deadwood, destined to be a pillar
of the community and raise a total of three children, with her husband
Seth continued to be a mover and a
shaker throughout his life. Here are just a few of his accomplishments.
Bullock and Star established a thoroughbred horse ranch, tried his hand
a little in mining and politics, while continuing to serve his community
as Deputy United States Marshal. The Bullock and Roosevelt families got
to know each other during this time. Seth and Teddy both shared a keen
interest in conservation, and became close friends. When Teddy Roosevelt
was elected Vice-President, he appointed his very good friend, Seth Bullock
as the first Forest Supervisor of the Black Hills Reserve.
He was the first in South Dakota to
plant alfalfa, which became an important crop then and now. Bullock founded
the town, Belle Fourche, established the largest livestock shipping point
in the U.S. when he persuaded the railroad in 1891 to build along the
route of the stage coach which had stopped at DeMore Stage stop on his
ranch land. Seth joined the Cavalry during the Spanish American War, becoming
In 1894, Captain Seth Bullock and
his partner decided that Deadwood needed a classy, up scale hotel, which
they built on Main St. Unfortunately, this hotel burned down. Undaunted,
Bullock and Star decided to rebuild their hotel up and over a large, fireproof
store and warehouse built in 1876, which had already survived two previous
fires. In 1895, The Bullock Hotel reopened. Captain Seth Bullock loved
this hotel, and he died here in 1919 in room 211. The Captain was buried
on the high trail to White Rocks, directly above Mount Moriah Cemetery,
with a once glorious view of Mount Roosevelt and Friendship Tower.
The Bullock Hotel continued to be
an upscale place to stay throughout the years. When the owners in 1976
couldn't keep the building up, they sold it, which opened the opportunity
to revamp the hotel.
The Bullock Hotel was sturdily built
to last, in the Italiante style, with three stories, and a tin roof often
seen on Victorian houses. One can still see pink and white sandstone in
the banded facade, which was cut from Andrew's Quarry in Boulder Canyon,
not far from Deadwood.
Historical - It originally had 63
luxury, steam-heated guest rooms, found on the second and third floors, with
each floor having its own bathroom!! The Bullock had a restaurant on the
first floor which could take care of 100 guest's dining needs, serving
exquisite choices such as lobster and pheasant. Near the dining room,
was the kitchen, pantry, a room for salesmen to store their sample cases,
a large hotel lobby and office. Besides housing the luxury guest rooms,
the upstairs also had a library and a parlor off the balcony.
In the building adjoining the Bullock
Hotel was known as the Gentleman's Club, a place for "gaming enjoyment";
mainly poker; separate from the hotel, yet close enough to make it convenient.
The furnishings and decor throughout
the hotel were first class. In the downstairs area, there was red velvet
carpeting, brass chandeliers, fine oak and fir wood trim, and a glorious
Steinway grand piano. Upstairs, the guest rooms had iron and brass beds
and other furniture made of oak.
This classy hotel offered first-class
service for many years, occasionally getting renovated. By 1976, the hotel
was again in need of a facelift and a new life. The Ayres family had run
the hotel for many years, but decided to sell The Bullock Hotel and auction
off all the original furniture. The spirit of Seth Bullock, who never
left his hotel, must not of been very happy about this!
But not to worry, a plan was in the
works to buy up the historical buildings and help to revitalize them and
the local economy as well. By 1980, the population of Deadwood was 2,035.
By 1990, the population had decreased to 1,830. The handwriting was on
the wall if something wasn't done quickly. In an effort to boost tourism
to stay economically alive, gaming came back to Deadwood in the form of
In 1989, the people of South Dakota voted for slot machine gambling in Deadwood; the proceeds going to restore old buildings, as well as improve the economic climate in Deadwood. Many people come to Deadwood to play the slot machines which are located in most of the first floors of all the buildings which sit along the main downtown area of Deadwood.
In the Bullock Hotel, the visitor upon entering the extended lobby, sees a completely different sight, than what was planned by the first owner, Seth. Now the whole first floor lobby is full of a wide variety of slot machines, with the exception of the Gentleman's Bar, Bully's Restaurant and the cellar room.
The Restoration Process
In the 1990s, The Historical Bullock
Properties Company began to buy up the aging historical buildings, and
began to very carefully renovate and meticulously restore these historic
treasures to their original glory, with the idea of promoting tourism.
They purchased not only the Bullock Hotel, but also the Homestake Mansion
( B& B), the Town Hall (became an Inn), the Branch House, and some
other old buildings, like The Franklin Hotel, which became homes to the casinos, another money maker.
Though the hotel has had a couple
of renovations over the years, by the 1990s, the inside once again was
a little long in the tooth, badly in need of restoration. The structure
of the building itself was in good shape, because Captain Bullock built
his hotel to be solid and lasting. Using scraps of wallpaper and chips
of paint, old stencil samples from the original hotel decor, the restoration
work successfully recreated the original detail and the original floor
plan was kept as much as possible. The entire process took two and a half
years of careful work.
Present Description: The Bullock Hotel
remains the most upscale hotel in the area, offering lovely rooms, fine
dining experiences in their Bully's Restaurant, gambling.(i.e. gaming)
in the lobby area on the first floor. There is even a great place for special
events in their event room, Seth's Cellar.
While the upper floors' guest rooms
have the same charm and feel they had in 1895, the 63 rooms were reduced
to 28, to make them bigger, with some of the rooms having unique charming
shapes and angles, much to the delight of the guests.
Known entities observed by the living.
The hotel began jumping with paranormal activity around 1989. Near the hotel's check-in desk, there is a large scrap book of guests' experiences with the unseen/seen entities who call this building home. A lot of the experiences happened on the second floor.
1) Captain Seth Bullock - When the
hotel was reopened, restored to its glorious state, the spirit of Captain
Seth Bullock, while thrilled about the renovation of His hotel, but not too happy with the slot machines set up in the lobby area, decided to become
active and help the living run the hotel and keep an eye on things, becoming
the observant unseen and seen host who looks after the guests and keeps a keen
eye on the hotel's employees as well.
* Photos taken in the room he died in, show photographic "anomalies" which appear after the film
is developed. One photo shows a white vaporous form floating over the
Captain Seth Bullock - as protector.
The spirit of Captain Seth sent a clear message about what he thought of the expansion of gambling in his hotel.
* In 1990, a tall, 300 lb man was sent with his staff to oversee the set up of the gambling slot machines on the first floor, and spent the night in the hotel. In the middle of the night, he was shaken awake by a very angry presence of Seth Bullock, who saw the man as a wily rattlesnake, and would've thrown him out of the hotel, if only Seth was still alive. Needless to say, the man got this clear message, and made a bee-line out of the hotel and refused to stay there. His staff also left, knowing that their "kind" were not trusted by the very active spirit of Seth Bullock.
* A new female teller, who was sitting at the gambling check-in cage which was located in the lobby, turned away from the desk for just a moment. When she turned back, her drink, which had been sitting on the desk had been thrown, and had crashed with a force against the floor.
Captain Seth Bullock as spirit host:
* The spirit of Captain Seth Bullock
has been seen in a solid form, walking the halls of the second and third floors.
His intense stare is unforgettable, being his trademark feature.
* When not seen by some, his strong
presence is felt in some of the rooms and in the hallways. I was awakened by very cold air, and sensed a strong presence at the foot of our bed. I chickened out and didn't look to see if Seth was doing a bed check. The coldness went away in about 10 minutes.
* Guests have heard a friendly male
voice call their name, when there is no one living there with them.
* A man's footsteps and whistling
have also been reported by the living. A happy spirit I guess whistles
when doing something he so enjoys in a place he truly loves!
* A very young boy became lost in
the large hotel trying to find his parent's room. The entity of Captain
Seth Bullock appeared and gently led the lad to his room, without scaring
the child. Imagine his parents' surprise when the boy told them innocently
that an old-time cowboy had helped him find the room!
Captain Seth Bullock as Employee Manager:
While alive, Bullock expected his employees to put in a good day's work.
The standards haven't changed, even if Bullock isn't alive! The spirit
of Bullock blows the whistle in his own way when the workers are being
what he thinks is lazy, or when they hum or whistle; Behaviors which they
won't get away with in his hotel!
* His strong presence is felt in the
hotel's restaurant, Bully's Restaurant/Seth's Cellar
* When employees stand around, doing
nothing, or sing a tune or hum, odd things begin to happen. Plates and
glasses shake and fly across the restaurant, sometimes crashing on the
ground in front of witnesses. Kitchen appliances and lights have been
turned on and off without any help from the living, as a signal to get
to it! Stop goofing off!
* Items in the kitchen and the restaurant
have been moved to another location by their unseen manager, who seems
to have other ideas of where these items belong.
* Staff members have heard their
names called by a disembodied male voice.
* A staff member witnessed several
barstools move by themselves in Seth's Cellar, the basement dining area.
Occurrences observed by the cleaning
staff taking care of the guest rooms:
* The broken clock in room 305 sometimes
chimes when the maids come in to clean the room.
* Cleaning carts have moved by themselves.
* One maid was sprayed by the shower
which turned on by itself as she was cleaning the shower/tub.
Perhaps the job wasn't up to Bullock's standards.
2) A young girl, name unknown
* She has been seen in the cellar area, where the victims of epidemics such as small pox and typhoid were quarantined. Children and the old were often killed by disease outbreaks.
* An apparition of a young girl under
10 years old has been seen by guests.
* Toilet paper has the habit of
unrolling itself in guest bathrooms.
* Lights and showers have been known
to turn themselves on and off, without any help from the living.
Other Paranormal experiences: Some
paranormal investigators/psychics claim that thirty-seven separate entities
also call the place home.
* Guests have felt a tap on the shoulder
when no one was standing or sitting near them.
* Guests' personal belongings have
been moved around the room or are found in odd places.
* Lights, showers and water faucets
have been known to turn themselves on and off, without any help from
* Electrical items in the rooms
have been turned on and off, even when unplugged by the living. Entities
are fascinated with electricity!
* Out of the corner of the eye,
darting shadows are seen, making the person seeing these occurrences
feel they are being followed.
* Visitors have heard their names
whispered by soft voices.
Yes indeed! Recently, a well-known paranormal investigation group set up a camera in the cellar, and caught on film paranormal activity.
Volumes of eye witness accounts from guests have
been officially written down.
We heard eye-witness accounts from staff members when we stayed at the Bullock Hotel in the summer of 2008.
Other knowledgeable sources experienced
in paranormal activity who have visited the Bullock Hotel definitely claim
that the spirit of Captain Seth Bullock and others still call the place their home.