Wednesday, July 24, 2013

7/22 Deadwood & Lead, SD

These two towns are very close to one another in the Black Hills of South Dakota, but they are very different in character.  Deadwood was a dying town until the state legislature approved gambling there in the mid-1980s. It is now a town with "gaming" establishments lining the entire length of main street, broken up only by the many souvineer shops.  Not my favorite kind of town since you can't even find a meal without going into a casino or a bar.  In addition, I have not seen so many people smoking on the sidewalks in a long time, so it was hard to avoid smoke.

It is certainly a bustling town, but without some of its original character.  Here is what it looks like now:

The one thing you can do in Deadwood is take a tour via bus to the old Mount Moriah cemetery where Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane are buried.  It would have been an interesting place to walk around on my own, but you cannot drive there or park a big vehicle nearby.

Both town originally were mining towns, but Lead (pronounced "leed") was/is the location of the largest gold mine in the world, the Homestake Mine.  It closed about 20 years ago, but I remember touring it in 1980 when it was up and running.  The cost of gold went down, but it was more the cost of mining up to 8,000 feet deep caused most of the problems.  It was sold and many of the original buildings were torn down.

It is worth stopping at the visitor center to see the miners' memorial and get a good view of the open pit part of the mine.  This pit is the oldest part of the mine, but also the newest, as it was enlarged considerably in the mid- 1980s which explains why I do not remember seeing it before.

Apparently, they had to move one end of main street several times because the edge of the open pit kept collapsing.

Here are some of the photos I took of mine equipment on the tour I took of the mine buildings. They have some equipment near the visitor center, as well.

This display shows the various drills and drill bits used for various mine levels.

And this is an underground porta potty.

And the two winches that lifted the cages miners rode in.  They are still used today because the mine is being used to do research on subatomic particles. It is called the Sanford Underground Research Facility and its website describes what they are doing in more detail:

There isn't much left to see in Lead, but there is a small museum where you can go underground in a simulated mine and also offers panning for gold. 

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