8 a.m. ~ 10
This is the remains of a processessing building of an abandoned
Black Hills gold mine. Such structures are not uncommon in
the Black Hills but visitors are
cautioned to be careful around such sites because there are often open
or poorly protected shafts within -- sometimes covered by rotted
lumber.Also, most are on private property so entry requires the
land-owner's permission. This site happens to be on US Forest Service
Gold Mining in the Black Hills
first Europeans in the Black Hills were gold prospectors and miners. The
histories of towns such as Deadwood, Hill City and Keystone are rich
gold mining history were made famous first in dime novels and later in film and television.
for instance, is the home of
the Holy Terror Mine, which closed in 1927 after nearly 40 years of
It's said there's still lots of gold down there, but the mine, which
was always dangerous to work, flooded from numerous underground
springs. Deadwood, of course, is the most famous Black Hills town for
its gold mining history and then there is Hill City, which was once the most notorious gold rush towns.
For those who wish to delve deeply, there are
literally hundrends of books about mining in the Black Hills and they
range from technical to ridiculous. Many are available at book stores
and tourist attractions throughout the Black Hills.
quick sample of gold mining history, there are three tours available: Keystone's Big Thunder Gold Mine, (http://www.bigthundermine.com/) Deadwood's Broken Boot (http://www.brokenbootgoldmine.com/)and Lead's Homestake Visitor Center (http://www.homestaketour.com/). Although not a mine, the Museum of Mining in Lead
is great spot to learn about gold mining in the Lead and Deadwood area.
The Big Thunder and Broken Boot mines are seasonal tourist
attractions. The Museum of Mining is open all year, but some exhibits
are closed in the off-season.
Gold panning is still popular throughout the Hills. There are numerous
roadside attractions offering gold panning, but if you want to drive up
to Rochford, you can spend a whole day working a real, operating placer
gold mine claim. (You get to keep all the gold you find.) If you
know where to look, you can still
pan for gold -- successfully -- in many of the streams of the Black
It's a popular pastime for people who live here.
One attraction we find interesting is Wade's Gold Mill near Hill City. This
is an actual working gold mill where they process ore from a
nearby placer deposit. They have a lot of antique gold
mining equipment, including a working stamp mill, and they even offer
gold panning lessons.
adventurous -- and the experienced
-- there are hundreds of "ghost mines" throughout the Black Hills.
are often hard to find, but sometimes they suddenly just appear when
are walking in the forest. There are quite a few in the Keystone/Hill
area. These mines were often for minerals other than gold
however. The Keystone Historical Museum also has information about
Keystone's early gold mining history.
A word of
caution however: Abandoned mines
can be dangerous places. Most are located on private property so you
even be near them. Some, however, are on public land. If you should
to run across an abandoned gold mine never, ever go inside. These mines
are often 100 years or more old and they are prone to cave in at the
disturbance. Also, many contain deep shafts -- some as much as a
feet -- so you wouldn't want to fall in.
are interested in the ghost mines
of the Black Hills, there are experienced guides who can take you to
of the better sites.