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    Mt Moriah Cemetery (South Dakota): How to visit & helpful tips

    Mount Moriah Cemetery sign
    Mount Moriah Cemetery

    I know visiting a cemetery might sound like an odd attraction but Mount Moriah is rich with history and will surprise you as you walk along the graves of some of the Wild West’s most notable legends!

    Mount Moriah Cemetery is one of the most visited attractions in Deadwood, South Dakota, so keep reading for all you need to know before you go.

    What is Mount Moriah?

    Mount Moriah Cemetery is an actual cemetery in Deadwood, South Dakota, where some famous western legends are buried, as well as many other Deadwood citizens from back in the day.

    Each section has a unique style of headstones that varies with the occupants buried. The paths will give you a bird’s eye view of downtown Deadwood as well as a park-like setting.

    It’s a popular tourist attraction that can be done on its own or on a group tour from Downtown Deadwood.

    • Our guide provides a self-guided tour (audio tour included) of Deadwood and the entire Black Hills area.

    Where is Mount Moriah?

    Mount Moriah is located in Deadwood, South Dakota, established in 1878. It’s easy to find from Downtown. Either direction you come from will guide you with signs onto Sherman and then onto Cemetery Street.

    Deadwood is a very small town that is easy to navigate and has signs pointing you in the right direction. If all else fails you can always pop into a shop or saloon for some directions!

    What famous people are buried there?

    Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are two of the most recognized people buried in Mt. Moriah but before I go into detail on them let’s look at some of the other less familiar people who were buried there as well.  

    Dora DuFran

    She is one of the most recognized madams in the Black Hills and operated several brothels. She was a friend of “Calamity Jane’s.”  She died in 1934 and was buried next to her husband with her pet parrot.

    headstones of dora dufran and her husband
    Headstones of Dora Dufran and her husband

    Preacher Smith

    Henry Weston Smith was known to be the first Christian minister in the Black Hills. He was murdered while on his way to preach at a mining camp 9 miles away and has a memorial along the side of the road where he was ambushed.

    John McClintock

    Owner of the Deadwood to Spearfish Stagecoach.  He wrote Pioneer Days in the Black Hills, a book about events that took place in Deadwood.

    Seth Bullock

    He was Deadwood’s first appointed sheriff and a friend to President Theodore Roosevelt. His business partner Sol Star arrived in 1876 and established a hardware store.

    Seth Bullock Headstone
    Seth Bullock Headstone

    This was my favorite gravesite to visit.  It was quite a hike up the mountain and away from all of the other sites.  It’s about 2000 feet out and back and worth the trek.  The views on the hike are spectacular.  

    hiking up to the bullock headstone
    Hiking up to the Bullock headstone

    Wild Bill Hickok

    His real name was James Butler Hickok but was widely known as “Wild Bill.”  He was a famous lawman, scout, gunfighter, and actor.  He came to Deadwood in 1876 to pursue gambling but was murdered in Saloon #10 by Jack McCall.  

    Wild Bill Hickok Headstone
    Wild Bill Hickok Headstone

    You can watch this reenactment in Saloon #10 on Main Street from May through September.  

    Calamity Jane

    Martha Jane Canary had many occupations in Deadwood from 1876 til 1903 when she died in a mining camp in Terry.  Her dying wish was to be buried next to Wild Bill and it was granted. 

    This fueled rumors that they had a romance but apparently, the affection was only one-sided on her part.  

    Calamity Jane Headstone
    Calamity Jane Headstone

    What else is in the cemetery?

    Mt Moriah is sectioned off into sections starting with A and ending with U.  The walking tour guide will explain them all and guide you through them.  There are some new additions to the cemetery after 1920, so you can see the difference in the headstone styles.

    Additionally, there is a section for Civil War Veterans, Chinese, Masonic, Jewish, and much more. I don’t want to give too many spoilers otherwise you might not feel the need to visit!

    Civil war vets
    Civil war vets

    Gorgeous mountain views surround the cemetery. There are many lookout areas to take pictures of and lots of trees along the paths to keep it shady. It was a bit smokey on the day we visited but the views were still amazing.

    Can I bring pets?

    Pets are not allowed in the cemetery but I did see people walking them in the parking lot and vicinity.

    How long does it take to visit Mt. Moriah?

    I would recommend allotting 1-2 hours for a visit to the cemetery.  You will be given a tour guide pamphlet and if you follow it, you will have a nice route that will keep you from missing anything you might want to see.

    Do I have to pay?

    It costs $2.00 to visit the cemetery.  This is for maintenance and is a very reasonable fee.  The cemetery is beautiful and extremely well-maintained.  If the ticket booth is closed, donations are accepted in a donation box. 

    Is there parking?

    Yes, there is a parking lot at Mt. Moriah.  There are also great views of the town of Deadwood from the parking lot.

    Can I walk from Main Street?

    The short answer is yes and even though it’s only about half a mile, it’s an extremely steep hill through a neighborhood and crosses a couple of intersections.

    It’s a 5-minute drive and a “15-minute” walk but I think it would actually take a bit longer.

    What else is there to do nearby?

    There are plenty of things to do near Mt. Moriah and in Deadwood.  You could easily spend a few days here so I will just list a few here for now.

    Historic Adams House

    Historic Adams House is just down the street from the museum.  The price per person is $12 for a 45-minute tour. I have not yet done this tour but it starts every hour on the hour.

    The Adams Museum

    Adams Museum
    Adams Museum

    I recommend taking a tour of the Adams Museum in front of the visitors center near Main Street. This has all of the histories of the notables buried in Mt. Moriah and will give you some good insight before you visit the cemetery. 

    This is a donation-based museum with a suggestion of $5 per person.  

    Main Street

    Walk historic Main Street for shopping, gambling, food, and fun.  There are multiple reenactments to watch of the old west shootouts and the capture and trial of Jack McCall (the man who murdered Wild Bill).

    Stagecoach rides and tours are available throughout the summer and additional times throughout the year.  You can check times and dates by visiting Deadwood Alive.

    Spearfish Canyon

    Spearfish Canyon is located near Deadwood and is a beautiful scenic drive with waterfalls, hikes, and restaurants.

    This is a must-do in the area, and I’ve written an article with everything you need to know before you visit Spearfish Canyon.

    Other things worth mentioning

    Suggested order

    I recommend visiting Adams Museum before visiting Mt. Moriah for some background history.

    Get your Deadwood Passport

    I also suggest stopping in the visitors center and picking up a Deadwood Passport which is not only a fun and free souvenir but it has a place to get stamps at all of the historic sites you visit.  There are six in total. 

    Ride the free Trolley

    You can take the trolley (for free) to most of these locations and when the passport is filled out you can retrieve a couple of gifts.

    passport display at the visitors center
    Passport display at the Deadwood visitors center

    The flag always flies

    The flag in Mount Moriah flies over the cemetery 24 hours a day by tradition as given permission by U.S. Congress during World War I.

    Mt Moriah flag never goes down to honor veterans who have served our country.
    Mt. Moriah flag flies 24 hours a day rather than sunrise to sunset

    Headstone coins

    You may notice coins placed on some of the headstones.  I didn’t know why when I visited so I wanted to fill you in just in case you are in the dark too.  Coins are left on the headstones of deceased soldiers to let the family know that someone stopped by to pay their respect. 

    A penny means you visited.  A nickel means you and the veteran trained together.  A dime means you and the veteran served together in some capacity. A quarter means you were there when they died.

    Similar sentiments for non-military but ultimately it is to demonstrate that they have not been forgotten. 

    Coins on Seth Bullock’s headstone

    Mt. Moriah is filled with symbols throughout the cemetery.  You may wish to visit the visitor center before entering to look at the symbolism chart if that is something that interests you on your journey.  

    Time of day to visit

    I recommend visiting Mt. Moriah in the morning if it is going to be a hot day. Walking around in the heat and hiking the hills in the cemetery can get a bit warm. Bring a bottle of water and don’t leave it in your car like I did!

    Be respectful

    Lastly, please be respectful while visiting. Mount Moriah may be a place to tour on vacation but it is also a final resting place for many. Stay on the walking trails and place all trash in the garbage. Enjoy your visit and don’t forget to get your passport stamped!

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