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Deadwood: 1888

Deadwood, South Dakota, from Mrs. Livingston's Hill. View full size or zoom in. Circa 1888 photograph by John C.H. Grabill. Another Deadwood shot here.

Deadwood, South Dakota, from Mrs. Livingston's Hill. View full size or zoom in. Circa 1888 photograph by John C.H. Grabill. Another Deadwood shot here.


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The start of "billboard clutter"?

Did anyone else spot the big advertisement for "Star and Bullock Hardware" hanging under the tracks on the hill, to the right?

We loved Deadwood SD

We came to visit Deadwood SD and we just loved it. Now we cant wait to come back. The people were so friendly. That is so nice, as you don't get that often these days.

Deadwood - signs of life.

Yes, the long exposure would turn any movement into a light blur. However, there are photo's on Ghost Cowboy of a parade in Deadwood in 1888, and they are obviously not taken with a long exposure.

Keep in mind these photos were probably taken for commercial purposes, much like an aerial photo was later used as a tool for development. For the photo to be useful, the photographer would want to have a minimum of “people blurs.” Therefore, the photo was most likely taken early in the morning - notice the long shadows - with the sun behind the photographer’s shoulder to best illuminate the town. And I bet it was Sunday morning.

The electric and phone lines are a problem, though, with the 1888 date. There’s another photo on Ghost Cowboy dated 1888 that definitely has people in it, but it also has alot of wires. The photo’s of the 1888 parade do not have wires, so try to find the same buildings in both and compare.

Now if someone could point me toward the Gem Saloon...

[See this post re the wires. - Dave]

The Deadwood views by Grabill are all from a well-documented series of photographs shot from 1887 to 1892 and are part of the Library of Congress archives. There are more here. As you can see at the bottom of the image, the photo has a copyright date of 1888.

Read more on the Library of Congress site.

"The one hundred and eighty-eight photographs sent by John C.H. Grabill to the Library of Congress for copyright protection between 1887 and 1892 are thought to be the largest surviving collection of this gifted, early Western photographer's work. Grabill's remarkably well-crafted, sepia-toned images capture the forces of western settlement in South Dakota and Wyoming and document its effects on the area's indigenous communities."

Signs of Life

There is a horse and wagon on a street over to the left.

Photographs back then needed

Photographs back then needed long exposures.

They're there, they're just moving.

Pictures of that era took time to expose. Because of the length of exposure, and that people aren't staying still long enough to show up on the exposure, the town looks deserted.

You can get the same effect nowadays, if you have a camera with a sufficiently long exposure and small enough aperature.

This is the church, this is

This is the church, this is the steeple...


Not only are there no people. There are no horses or livestock. No carts. No trash. Practically no indications of life. In 1888 Deadwood was booming.

Color me dubious about the date.

Nice photo, though. I love ghost town photos.


Where are all the people?

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