Deadwood gaming may have created more than 2,000 jobs in northern Black Hills and spurred preservation of one of south Dakota’s most unique historical treasures, but its true impact is being felt throughout the state. From Yankton to Sisseton and Sioux Falls to Rapid City, the positive effects of Deadwood gaming are rippling though South Dakota.
“It just doesn’t stop in Deadwood,” says Mike Kroger of Dell Rapids. “The whole concept of Deadwood is quite an asset to the state.
”And Kroger should know. As a current State Representative from District 25, board member of Preserve South Dakota, and a small business owner, Kroger has witnessed a 15-20 percent increase in his business since Deadwood gaming began in 1989. Today, Mike Kroger Masonry and Restoration employs as many as 10 stone masons and specialists in stone patching and does business within a 500-mile radius of Dell Rapids.
Kroger Masonry has been involved in a variety of historic preservation projects in Deadwood, including the Adams Museum & House, History & Information Center, Deadwood Recreation Center, the Bodega Bar and most recently, the three-year restoration of the historic Mt. Moriah Cemetery, which preserves the final resting places of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and other noted characters of the West.
“Deadwood has had a tremendous impact on my business,” Kroger says. ‘Certainly gaming brings in a lot of tax dollars for South Dakota and offers visitors a place to see historic sights and gamble, but I don’t think the average state resident sees all the impacts.”
A friend of Kroger’s recently told him that he believed “all the work in historic preservation was just an exercise in futility.” Kroger was quick to respond, noting to his long-time friend that Kroger Masonry had just spent a good portion of its profits in purchasing heavy equipment from him. Kroger also pointed out that proceeds from Deadwood gaming have funded dozens of historic preservation projects around the state.
"Deadwood gaming has proven to be a great asset to the community and the State of South Dakota,” he says. “They’ve taken older, dilapidated buildings and turned them into viable, taxable properties. But, as a National Historic Landmark, much remains to be done."