History

Lead has been called the richest 100 square miles on Earth. Over a period of 126 years, miners pulled more than 41 million ounces of gold and 9 million ounces of silver from the Homestake Mine, the largest mine in the western hemisphere.

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Prospectors began arriving in the Black Hills in the mid-1870s. Very quickly, “Lead City” was transformed into a thriving community built around the gold-mining industry. In the early mining years, miners hammered the rock with picks, their way lit with candlelight, and mushed mules pulling carts filled with ore. In later generations, miners broke the rock with pneumatic drills and powerful explosives, producing a seemingly limitless stream of riches.

In December 2001, however, that limit arrived. Homestake mined its final ore and left behind more than 370 miles of tunnels from the surface to the 8,000-foot level. Today, those caverns house world-leading research that seeks to understand the riches of the universe.

To learn more about the history of Homestake and Lead, come to our Visitor Center and check out the exhibits!

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