Press "Enter" to skip to content

Pine Beetle Gave Deadwood Its Name

A friend leafs through Pioneer Years in the Black Hills, an edited version of fortune-seeker Richard B. Hughes's diary account of the White invasion of the Black Hills. Hughes had trouble finding gold, but he had no trouble finding a pest that today provokes Republicans to cries for vast government spending:

“On the eighteenth [of May, 1876] we continued down Spearfish Canyon, through a huge ‘deadening’ where the trail was made difficult by the dead trees encumbering the ground and lying in all positions. Many such deadfalls were found in the Hills, giving rise to various surmises as to their cause. Deadwood derived its name from the fact that the stream for a part of its course flowed through such a deadening.”

Hughes added this footnote to the passage: “Later scientific investigation has made it pretty certain that this timber was destroyed by the pine beetle in periodic visits long ago, as within a few years past the timber of the Hills has suffered severely from such a visitation” [Richard B. Hughes, Pioneer Years in the Black Hills, A.H. Clark Company, 1957].

Just think: that little pest gave Deadwood its name. And that little pest is a frequent natural visitor to the Black Hills, a visitor we are now determined to eradicate.


  1. larry kurtz 2013.02.09

    The Black Hills, having never been glaciated, represents the heart of the continent.

    She boasts one of the oldest habitats for the mountain pine beetle, an organism which had blown in from points west and north had managed second-growth for countless centuries before humans began burning stands to encourage bison and wapiti to browse aspen shoots at least 11,000 years ago.

    Now the wind that blows through the West reeks of death and desecration. The stench of the wasicu wafts from the bores that pump into her and the shovels that scrape her flesh then bleed her entrails into the kill floor drain.

    Shaka, when the walls fell.

  2. mike 2013.02.10

    Noem is an idiot, a grandstander, a rhetorical bomb thrower and someone who has no interest in fixing problems.

    The sooner Brendan Johnson or Stephanie Herseth run against her the better for SD.

  3. mike 2013.02.10

    I love this story.

  4. Stan Gibilisco 2013.02.11


    I always thought that the pine beetle was a consequence of global warming, and that a carbon tax would get rid of it.


    Unless global warming started with the war of 1812 or something.

Comments are closed.