Picturesque Favorites: Useful Images
Though in truth the town of Deadwood is located in South Dakota, imagery from the HBO television show bearing the same name could easily translate into any of a number of the lifestyles articulated by many gold mining settlements of the historic American west in the mid 1800s. I often imagine the extraordinary visual metaphors portrayed in this remarkable television show, as a means of filling in the blank patches of history of an area where I own property in Northern California; Trinity County.
This remote California location is also swarming with historic gold mining heritage as well as a proliferation of evidence vis-à-vis the difficult life of the 19th century prospector, settler, immigrant and North American Indian during that vulgar yet often romanticized era. Chinese were imported into places like Weaverville as an underclass of labor, along with the infamous prostitutes who occupied many of the homes in these now cutesy artsy/fartsy modern versions of quaint western mountain communities. Indians in the area have been, over time confined to a few poverty-stricken mountain hideaways, which now sport high rates of unemployment and heavy alcoholism and drug abuse.
Why, we even found remnants of an old covered wagon as well as mining and lumbering tools on our Trinity County property, as we cleaned and settled into it some 15 years ago (circa 1990).
I envisage the "celestials", prostitutes, drunks and other assorted characters portrayed in Deadwood as mock-up caricatures for the dramas which surely must have played out in equally as theatrical ways all throughout the developing west in the mid 1800s. Thank you to the shows producers for putting it all into a realistic perspective. We Americans can all use the upgrade.
As late as the 1920s and 1930s, people were still coming to Trinity County to settle in tents, live in towns whose main streets were unpaved and muddy. They came to find work as lumberjacks and miners. Most all were white. And P.S.ask anybody there about the stigma of the "Natural Bridge". Ahhh, the grand old west!
My recommendation? Forget the romance and nostalgia of Dodge City. If you are going to watch television, watch Deadwood.