Dude Ranch Owner to University Professor Inductee Watson Parker

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This month’s cover of Bank Note Reporter has the image of a No. 1 Deadwood $10 note. The note is part of Stack’s Bowers’ sale at the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money in Denver this year.

I have a soft spot for Deadwood, as my thesis advisor, and the teacher of various classes I took, was Dr. Watson Parker. Parker wrote what I’m guessing is still the definitive book on the history of Deadwood, titled Deadwood: The Golden Years. He even appeared in a 2004 episode of The History Channel’s popular show, “Wild West Tech,” talking about Deadwood.

I have paperback and hardcover copies of his Deadwood tome, both nicely inscribed to me by Dr. Parker.

For many years, I had a photocopy of an article from the Advance-Titan, a university newspaper, tacked to the wall above my desk. It was about how he turned from being a dude ranch owner to a university professor.

Dr. Parker died in 2013. Two years prior, he was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame. A Wikipedia page for him says that his Deadwood book was the first book that HBO’s “Deadwood” creator and director, David Milch, purchased in doing research for the show.

Besides knowing his stuff about the Black Hills, Dr. Parker taught his students about writing and research. He would stress that, as a writer, you can get a reader to go where you want, but you have to take him there.


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