Our first stop this morning was Lead (pronounced leed, which is a mining term) and the Homestake Mine only to find that tours were cancelled due to repairs on something or another. We did get to view a video and the open pit mine behind the visitor’s center. The mine operated for 126 years, closing in 2002, due to falling gold prices. There is still gold in the mine but operating costs surpassed income generated by the gold produced. Homestake Mine provided a good living for the workers, company sponsored health care and many other benefits for the town.
The open cut portion of the mine is 1,200 feet, however the underground portion extends to more than 8,000 feet. A system of shafts and drifts that extend under the town.
Demolition of buildings and cleanup of the site is expected to take several more years. Part of the mine is currently houses the Sanford Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory at the 4,000 foot level. Pumps are constantly removing water below that level as the water table is near the surface.
We went down the road a couple of miles to the Black Hills Mining Museum. This is another wonderful museum. The well-informed tour guide takes you down to basement level to a simulation of the Homestake Mine. The tour takes you from the earliest years to the close of the mine, describing mining methods through the years. The museum was made possible by the Homestake Mine Co.
There is a nice museum above ground, with mining and local history.
1904 Homestake Mine Employees
We next took an excursion over the border into Wyoming to see the Vore Buffalo Jump. As with many of the places and things we wanted to see it was closed after Labor Day but they did leave the gate open so you could take a self-guided tour.
The site was discovered in the 1970s during the construction of I-90. This is where buffalo were driven into a sinkhole by Native Peoples and butchered for meat, hide, bones, sinew, etc.
This is a photo of a sign depicting the buffalo falling into the pit.
Here is a view from the bottom of the pit. University students intern here during the summer months. The building protects the dig site.
The large teepee on the left appears to be a visitor center. It is not made of canvas rather wood covered by roofing membrane to resemble a teepee. The teepee on the right covers a “sandbox with arrow points you can dig with the trowels provided and keep for $1. I’m sure these are modern versions of artifacts not the real thing.
We took Hwy 14A, the 19 mile Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, back to Deadwood. Spearfish Creek parallels the road and there are pullouts that allow you to access the creek or the waterfalls along the way. The cold water comes from springs. Spearfish Creek disappears to the north in Spearfish. Some water is diverted for domestic use and the remainder finds its way into sinkholes created from dissolving gypsum in the ground.
Fly fisherman fishing for trout.
It was quite a hike to Spearfish Falls across a bridge and over rugged terrain. On the way back I was huffing and puffing so loud that I didn’t know there was a man behind me until he scuffed his foot in the gravel. I nearly jumped out of my skin. He apologized for frightening me. I told him that I couldn’t hear him over my heavy breathing.
Roughlock Falls is handicap accessible with a paved path and very nice viewing platforms.
There are several picnic tables like this at Roughlock Falls. The top and seats are 4” thick. There are similar chunky benches there also.