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BHSU Library to celebrate the unveiling of Watson Parker’s Ghost Town Notebooks Collection

Watson Parker 
 Here is an image from Watson Park's Ghost Town Notebook Collection that will be on display starting Tuesday, Aug. 12 in the Case Library.

The Leland D. Case Library at Black Hills State University will host a celebration of the unveiling of Watson Parker’s Ghost Town Notebooks Collection Tuesday, Aug. 12 at 2 p.m. in the Case Library. The celebration, led by Dr. David Wolff, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, will showcase Parker’s work and celebrate his life. Parker died in January of 2013 but left a richness of knowledge for generations to share and know about. Parker is best known for his book, Black Hills Ghost Towns, which was written with his childhood friend, Hugh Lambert. The book features 600 towns, mines, and stage stops of bygone years.

In 2013, the Parker family donated his collection of notebooks on the ghost towns to the Case Library as per Watson’s wishes. Watson himself was a supporter of the Case Library and the western historical studies. This collection consists of 133 three-ring binders of his extensive and meticulous notes on his research on and exploration of the Black Hills.

The notebooks include information not included in his books. The collection includes handwritten and typed research notes, photographs, newspaper clippings and articles, maps, and brochures compiled over 40 years. His primary interests were locations associated with the Gold Rush towns along with mills, mines and various institutions such as banks, factories and saloons. A lot of these places have fallen apart and don’t exist anymore so it’s a huge contribution to everyone in the Black Hills.  Watson enjoyed working on these projects and visiting all the places that he wrote about.

Watson Parker’s books are entertaining and factual which is why they were used as a reference for David Milch, the creator of the HBO Series “Deadwood.” His portrayals of the Black Hills are a huge asset to what existed in the Black Hills up to the 60’s and 70’s said Roberta Sago, special collections librarian and archivist at BHSU.

His notebooks will be a huge addition to the amount of information historians know about the past of the Black Hills. “His notebooks are a treasure trove of information about the Black Hills to be used for posterity’s sake,” said Sago. The Parker family will be attending the presentation light refreshments will be provided.

The Case library is located on the second floor of the E.Y. Berry Library-Learning Center. For more information about this event should call 642-6361 or email For more information about the BHSU library visit

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