Deadwood’s origins were colorful, violent, and lawless. Established in 1876, the town was built by the Black Hills Gold Rush, and was famous for its cast of wild characters, rampant gambling, public gunplay, and prostitution. After a fire in 1879 decimated the business district, Deadwood rebuilt itself in brick and stone rather than in wood. Even so, a new architectural trend was added in 1892, with the first of several Victorian mansions. Now a town of roughly 1,380, Deadwood is a National Historic Landmark.
The community solidified its “Old West” reputation in the late 1980s by legalizing gambling, which allowed Deadwood to fully embrace the past as a primary tourism draw. In a recent brand communication effort, designers were asked to create new logos, a multi-phased wayfinding signage system, and two archways that could meld the “Old West” and Victorian themes into a cohesive visual brand. The job required both general and environmental graphic design, logo refinement, and project and construction management for the signs themselves.