Discover The Days Of ’76 Museum In Deadwood
- Date Visited: September 2020
- Address: 18 76th Dr, Deadwood, SD 57732
- Phone: (605) 578-1657
- Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10 AM-4 PM (Varies seasonally)
- Price: Adults $8, Children 6-12 $3, Children 5 & under free
The Days Of ’76 Museum is a seasonal museum located in Deadwood, South Dakota whose main focus is to document the annual Days of ’76 festival and rodeo.
The Days of ’76 celebration began in 1924 as a way to honor Deadwood’s first pioneers. Now it is has grown into a legendary annual event featuring a parade and award-winning PRCA rodeo.
The museum began informally, as a repository for the horse drawn wagons, carriages, archives and other memorabilia that was generated by the celebration held each year.
With the addition of Donald Clowser’s collection of Old West Pioneer and American Indian artifacts, archives and firearms in 1990 the old pole barn that housed the museum was beginning to get cramped.
Once the largest collection of horse-drawn vehicles in the state was added to the museum’s inventory it became clear the building was no longer large enough to house the exhibits.
Eventually a new $5.25 million, 32,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility was constructed.
A large part of the museum on the main floor is dedicated to the annual rodeo and parade. Displays on events, clothing and memorabilia from the Days of ’76 can be found lining the walls.
That’s not the only thing that can be found in the museum though. Exhibits also feature the Native Americans who lived in the area as well as all the prospectors, miners and madams who settled into the Dakota Territory.
The Firearms Exhibit displays nearly 100 long arms and 20 handguns. Through the use of photographs, diagrams, and illustrations the story of each gun is revealed.
This exhibit features guns commonly used in the Black Hills as well as throughout American history. The guns are presented in unique and well thought out displays.
The real crown jewel of the museum (in my opinion) is located downstairs. The 7,000-square-foot exhibit titled Deadwood: A Story of Movement and Change, features more than 50 historic wagons, carriages, buggies, and other animal-powered vehicles.
The vehicles are positioned in front of panoramic photographs of the local western landscape or representations of Deadwood’s Historic Main Street adding to the presentation. Informational plaques can be found with each vehicle for additional information.
There were so many cool vehicles here it was hard to choose a favorite. I was really drawn to the milk cart, post office cart and funeral carts though.
The exhibit does a great job at telling the story of the early transportation system in the American West. It was my favorite part of the museum for sure. Be sure to have your camera handy, because there are a ton of photo opportunities here.
If you happen to be in Deadwood I highly recommend stopping in the Days Of ’76 Museum. A lot of history for the town and the surrounding area is provided in exquisitely detailed exhibits and displays.
There is a large parking lot outside and a small gift shop inside as well.