Nearly a dozen years ago, Carolyn Weber joined the staff of Deadwood History Inc., as an archivist charged with organizing the vast Homestake Mining Co. collection tracing 125 years of gold mining history through myriad historical artifacts and more than 9,000 photographs.
Today, Weber serves as executive director of DHI. Although the 57-year-old who holds a master’s degree in museum studies is little-known outside historical circles, Weber is a driving force behind what local residents and visitors learn about the fabled Wild West community. So, we sat down with her to find out what still trips her trigger about the past.
Tell us a little bit about the facilities you oversee, the number of staff, and the scope of DHI’s collections.
DHI is the nonprofit organization that oversees the operations of the Adams Museum, the Days of ’76 Museum, the Historic Adams House, and the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center. All four of these properties are different and unique, but work together to interpret the history of Deadwood and the Black Hills in the context of the American West.
Our organization employs 11 full-time and 12 part-time and seasonal staff. DHI’s collections are vast and varied, dating back millions of years ago to the present. Just a smattering of the items includes paleontological specimens, a trunk from the Cheyenne to Deadwood stage line, thousands of beautiful and dramatic historical photographs, a personal possessions box that sailed on the Mayflower, Deadwood You Bet materials, champion bronc riding saddles, Homestake Mining Co. records, and revealing diaries.
What are a few of the most unusual, rare and intriguing items or artifacts from DHI’s collections?
Potato Creek Johnny’s nugget, on display at the Adams Museum, has to be one of the most valuable pieces in the collection. Weighing in at 7.346 troy ounces, it is one of the largest gold nuggets that has ever been unearthed in the Black Hills. W.E. Adams paid $250 for it back in the 1930s. Imagine what it is worth today?