Potato Creek Johnny's Nugget
In 1883, seventeen-year-old John Eli Perrett emigrated from Wales to the Black Hills in search of gold. He staked a claim on Potato Creek in Spearfish Canyon where he spent many years panning for gold. Perrett's world forever changed when on May 27, 1929 he found a 4-3/4 inch long gold nugget. The leg-shaped nugget, weighing 7-3/4 troy ounces, is considered one of the largest gold nuggets found in the Black Hills. Pioneer businessman W.E. Adams paid Johnny $250 for the nugget in 1934, and placed it on display at the Adams Museum.
Although some dispute whether Perrett actually found the nugget or simply created it, the nugget is what transformed John E. Perrett into "Potato Creek Johnny," an important character in Deadwood's history. At a height of 4'3" with long whiskers and dressed in buckskins, Johnny looked like the quintessential old-time prospector. When he died in 1943 at the age of 77, he was laid to rest in Mount Moriah Cemetery next to other Deadwood legends Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.
The Adams Museum has graciously placed Potato Creek Johnny's gold nugget on loan at Deadwood Mountain Grand for our guests to enjoy. To see more Black Hills treasures, please visit the Adams Museum at 54 Sherman St., Historic Adams House at 22 Van Buren Ave. and the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center at 150 Sherman St.