March Miner of the Month: Potato Creek Johnny

March Miner of the Month: Potato Creek Johnny

We’re excited to announce a new feature: a Miner of the Month, where we highlight one of the local miners who helped form this region. And we’re starting with one of the most famous Black Hills miners, Potato Creek Johnny.

First Gold Gaming is named because of our proximity to where gold was initially struck here in Deadwood. Featuring local miners is a fun way for us to tie our business into Deadwood’s history and culture. After all, we all hope for the same thing – striking it rich!

Potato Creek Johnny, whose real name was John E. Perrett, was born in Pansgoffer, Wales. He immigrated to the United States in 1883 at the age of 17 and soon came to Deadwood during the height of the gold rush. He set up a claim on Potato Creek, which is part of Spearfish Creek, where he mined for nearly 40 years.

In 1929, well after the rush had subsided, Perrett made history when he found one of the largest gold nuggets ever mined in the Black Hills. The leg-shaped gold nugget weighs 7.346 troy ounces (the traditional unit to weigh gold), and launched Perrett into instant celebrity status. Perrett’s fortunes had finally changed, and so had his name as locals dubbed him Potato Creek Johnny.

Capitalizing on his newfound celebrity, Perrett became one of Deadwood’s earliest tourism promoters. Standing at 4 feet, 3 inches tall, Perrett entertained visitors with his larger-than-life personality and tall tales of prospecting for gold. In 1934, Deadwood businessmen W.E. Adams bought the original nugget for $250. It is on permanent display at the Adams Museum.

Potato Creek Johnny died in 1943 at the age of 77. His grave is located alongside other famous Deadwood residents like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane in Mount Moriah Cemetery.

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