The location is legend….Deadwood, South Dakota. A craftier name could not have been given to this geographically challenging, and semi-remote area. The Black Hills Gold Rush of 1874 gave a rapid rise to the illegally formed town. Ruthless cutthroats, gamblers, shady prospectors, outlaws, gunslingers, and madmen all came to the town of Deadwood to cash in and take all they could on the heels of the rich discovery. The Black Hills Gold Rush only lasted four years, but the imprint of people who came there, living and dying, left quite the supernatural impression on the town that is still felt to this very day. And there is no place in Deadwood more haunted that the infamous Bullock Hotel.
Wild Bill Hickok and the Bullock Hotel
Seth Bullock was the original builder and founder of the Bullock Hotel in Deadwood in the year 1895 and opened officially in 1896. Bullock himself was a Canadian citizen who emigrated to the area after initially finding success in Helena, Montana as a store owner. The day after Bullock came to Deadwood, gunman Wild Bill Hickok was murdered by notorious gambler Jack McCall over a game of poker. Hickok was shot point blank in the back of the head, and after an informal court hearing, McCall was found not guilty of the murder.
Bullock took this crime to heart and became the first sheriff of the town, but law enforcement wasn’t his only passion. With the area booming economically, Bullock was able to convert an abandoned warehouse into a three-story hotel that was decorated throughout in a haughty, Victorian style. With such a presumably lavish appearance, the Bullock Hotel became the hottest spot in town for all sorts of activity. Bullock’s spot was so popular that even the future President Teddy Roosevelt had stopped through with the Rough Riders and made Bullock’s acquaintance. The two became good friends and kept in touch over the years even when Roosevelt was elected. In fact, he made Bullock the chief forest supervisor of what was to become the Black Hills National Forest. This was a position that Bullock kept until his death from colon cancer in 1919. Despite his death, the hotel still ran about its normal business over the decades and that’s when the paranormal experiences began to develop.
Is the Bullock Hotel Haunted?
In general, the unexplained encounters were witnessed by hotel employees at first. A slot machine supervisor was in the basement early one morning conducting a simple repair when the shadow of a man manifested and then disappeared just as quickly as it began. Late at night, one of the operations managers was alone and had closed down the bar area and took some receipts for a final counting to a small office nearby. On his way, he made sure that all the barstools were neatly lined up against the bar. Once he made it inside the office, he heard a strange sound and went out to the barroom. All of the stools that had been lined up seconds before were now scattered in every direction all across the room. From there, the stories only get more strange and unexplained.
The Ghosts of the Bullock Hotel
A younger employee of the kitchen staff had gone into the hotel storeroom to retrieve some nominal items and when he turned around saw the ghost of a man standing in the doorway. He was in cowboy-like attire, with a wide-brimmed hat and dark mustache. The ghostly figure stared back at the employee for several seconds before disappearing into thin air! Frightened by the encounter, the employee ended up quitting his job hours later out of pure fear.
One of the most haunted areas of the hotel is the second floor and room #211 in particular. In this room, guests have reported items being moved by an unseen force, the ghostly appearance of a man in western clothing, the bizarre scent of cigar smoke, and what is believed to be the ghost of a small girl. The sighting of the young girl is not uncommon, as the sound of childish chatter has been heard. At times guests have seen what appears to be a lost little girl and attempt to help her find her parents or her room, only to turn a corner and find that she totally disappears.
At the other end of the spectrum, actual living children who have gotten lost in the hotel claimed to have been assisted to their rooms by a man in a dark suit, hat, and big mustache despite no employee dressing in such a manner. His spirit is known to micromanage the employees at the hotel by offering up whistle sounds or slight nudges whenever they might be standing around and not working.
EVP sessions conducted in the hotel by paranormal enthusiasts have yielded such otherworldly responses as “door’s open”, “die”, “hello to you”, and when asked questions, a response of “yes” has even come through in real time.
Today, the Bullock Hotel is just as successful as when Seth Bullock first founded it all those years ago. It has gone through extensive renovations over the years, and to meet financial obligations, original furniture and antique interiors have been auctioned off at different times. Despite all the physical changes at the Bullock Hotel, one thing has remained constant, and that’s the presumed spirit of Seth Bullock.