Deadwood Franklin Hotel

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The Deadwood Franklin Hotel apparently has a spectral helper on their managerial staff.


This 1903, three storied Historic Franklin Hotel offers quite a lot for their guests. There are guest rooms in the process of being renovated; some with kitchenettes, a restored ballroom and meeting spaces, a wonderful steakhouse, buffet restaurant & second floor veranda that has a great view of downtown as people sip their cocktails. For entertainment there is also a beefed up “premier casino”, courtesy of the successful Silverado Casino who now owns this historic treasure.

First floor of The Franklin Hotel has been restored, according to the guidelines for buildings in towns deemed to be part of a Historical National landmark town, and Sivlerado Casino did a great job. Walking into the lobby takes the visitor back to the heyday of this hotel. The restored tin ceiling, gorgeous woodwork, grand chandeliers and fluted columns are some of the treasures that were restored and perhaps replicated from old photographs.



Because of the Black Hills Gold Rush;(1876-1879), the frontier town of Deadwood was founded in 1874. During its heyday, the town has 5,000 inhabitants. Because it was located in Indian Territory, it was considered an illegal town. Deadwood started off as a wild, lawless town that was finally brought to civility by Seth Bullock, a no nonsense sheriff and hotel owner.

Besides the drying up of the lucrative panning for gold, a big fire On September 26, 1879, burned Deadwood, destroying more than three hundred buildings and consuming the belongings of many inhabitants. So, not only did miners leave to find more profitable gold fields elsewhere, people who lost everything in the fire also left for greener pastures.

However, folks with money invested in the profitable business of deep mining. In 1888, the Deadwood Central narrow-gauge Railroad was built to move the fruits of the deep mining business. In 1893, The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad bought the Deadwood Central narrow-gauge Railroad.

Another improvement that was made was the electrifying of the railroad line between Deadwood and Lead in 1902 to provide an inter-urban passenger system, which was in service until 1924. After the market crash of 1929, this railroad was abandoned a year later, in 1930, except the railroad line that ran from Kirk to Fantail Junction, which was converted to standard gauge.

The need for a large, upper class downtown hotel was a need that was recognized by the business community. This spot on Main Street. This project ran into financial difficulties. One attempt created a foundation but ran out of money yet again. This hotel foundation was put to good use as a swimming pool for area youngsters.

At the turn of the century, Harris Franklin was the hero that was the moving force behind the building of this high class Franklin Hotel. He was able to encourage investment to build this hotel by putting his own neck out, offering to match any amount raised or invested. He efforts were successful, and construction began in earnest in 1902. He became an officer and chief shareholder in the Deadwood Hotel Company. In his honor, the hotel was named after him.

The grand opening celebration was on June 3rd of 1903. After a delicious array of food at the banquet for 250 guests, people toured the hotel, marveling at all the hotel had to offer in amenities: “A lobby fountain, cigar store, newsstand, barber shop, buffet, restaurant, two private parlors for ladies, masseuse, steam heat system, elevator, electric lights and telephone service in every room were among the Franklin Hotel’s amenities.”

“Half of the hotel’s eighty rooms had private baths, which was a novelty at the time. The Pioneer-Times reported that the musicians who played that evening were practically hidden by the number of potted palms in the ballroom.”

Well-known and famous guests stayed here, including Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, John Wayne, Buffalo Bill Cody, Babe Ruth and world heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan.

In 1929, a building of an addition to the hotel coincided with the market crash. To stay afloat, the Franklin Hotel was renovated into an apartment building, which brought in enough money to keep the doors open. The ballroom was closed at some point.

While businesses in Deadwood during the 1960s-1980s, struggled to bring in enough income because of a dwindling population, dwindling visitors because of the interstate, the one glimmer of hope happened in 1961, when the entire town was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Money was available to maintain old fixer upper opportunities. While no major restorations were made, The Franklin building was able to make major repairs and up the maintenance level, which I’m sure was appreciated by the Franklin’s tenants.

It remained an apartment building until gaming was legalized in Deadwood in 1989. While the building was turned back into a hotel, once again called the Franklin Hotel, no major restoration inside was attempted. They probably opened their own little casino, which helped in maintaining this historic hotel.

Meanwhile, a large gambling casino outfit moved into the old Garage building next door, the Silverado Gaming Company in 1995. They made a handsome profit and bought the Franklin Hotel ten years later, with a progressive business plan. They started with a huge monetary investment, much like Harris Franklin did. They renovated and restored the first floor and reopened the ballroom, and added a premiere casino and modern amenities that pleases the modern guest.

The first floor: “The renovated first floor reopened in June 2007, sporting a refinished tin ceiling, restored woodwork and fluted columns that match early photographs of the hotel lobby. Elaborate chandeliers, colored glass and gilded fixtures accent the entire level.”

With the revenue made from the new casino, they have been slowly restoring the rooms on the other floors; a win win situation. Once again, the Franklin Hotel is restored to its former glory, which has made at least one spirit very happy indeed.



People who loved their hotel that was their labor of love while they were alive, sometimes become active after restoration; sticking around to help – when and where they can; even gently guiding the people in charge.

A male spirit, probably Mr. Harris Franklin, is thrilled that someone has restored his hotel, and wants to help.

When the living let a building that was a labor of love go down hill, when this building is once again restored, those who loved the building may come back to help, not quite trusting the living to do a good job. Mr Franklin took a big risk

A male spirit, probably Mr. Harris Franklin, has become a second pair of eyes, in a hotel where he had taken a big financial risk to build this structure. He may think that he still has a financial stake. After the hotel was built he became an officer and chief shareholder in the Deadwood Hotel Company, making sure that the hotel was well run.



Male Spirit; possibly Mr. Harris Franklin

Dressed in turn of the century attire, wants to make sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to do; perhaps watching for wily behavior on the part of staff or the guests.

This spirit has a keen interest in watching the employees, especially the cleaning staff to the point of making personnel uncomfortable.

Staff and guests have also felt an unseen presence keeping an eye on them.

This male spirit is not afraid to appear in front of people, dressed in nice clothing in style for his era.


PROBABLY SO! While there isn’t any hard evidence shared with the public, it makes sense that it may be Mr. Harris Franklin who is staying to supervise and watch the living.

Staff and hotel guests have both seen him and felt an unseen presence watching them.

No results of paranormal investigations have been made public. The hotel owners probably did have a medium or paranormal investigation group in to find out who this male sprit is, and if he means harm.



The Silverado Historical Franklin Hotel and Gaming,
Grand Buffet and Legends Steakhouse
709 Main St,
Deadwood, SD 57732
(605) 578-3670

The Silverado Franklin Hotel is located on “upper Main Street”, near the corner of Shine Street and Main Street; only a two-minute walk from the Adams Museum & House and four miles from the Black Hills Mining Museum.




Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Deadwood Haunts in South Dakota