2001 Mining History Association Field Trip


Annual Conference, July 29-August 1, 1993





The open pit at the Homestake Mine is the most visible legacy from the well over 100 years of mining gold in Lead, South Dakota.  The pit is located on the site of the original 1876 discovery claims.

The open pit was idle after 1945 when all mining was being done underground.  In the 1990ís the pit was reactivated.  In this view from the hill on the south side of Lead, new benches are being created as the pit is once again in production.


The Homestake orebody dips from the open pit to the south running under the town.  Two main production shafts are located along the direction of the ore.  The Ross Shaft (above) is located on the south edge of the town.  It reaches the 5000 foot level of the mine.  As the mine deepened, the No. 5 Shaft located even further south was sunk to the 6800 foot level.  It was used primarily for ventilation.

The Yates Shaft was located on the hill above the pit and town so that ore could be easily moved to the adjacent mills on the hillside between the shaft and the pit.  The shaft reached the 4850 foot level.  Several winzes (internal shafts) connect the deeper levels of the mine to the upper levels.  When the mine closed in 2002, it had reached the 8000 foot level.



(Above)  The headframe of the Yates Shaft is seen towering over the Homestake milling complex.  Throughout the long history of the mine, a number of mills were constructed on this hillside so that the ore flow would be assisted by gravity.  In the modern mills, cyanide was used to dissolve the gold from the finely ground ore.  The gold was then removed from the solution and sent to the refinery.  The cyanide was recycled back into the process.


(Left)  The early mills used stamps to pulverize the ore and free the gold. In later years, crushers, rod mills, and ball mills were used to free the tiny particles of gold from the rock.  The tailings from mill were sent back underground where they were used to fill the stopes to support the ground.  This battery of six stamps stands in the city park located on the rim of the open pit. 


Photo Credits: Mike Kaas

Note: The photos taken at the time of the conference have been supplemented with others taken a few years earlier.  Since the mine closed in 2002, the mill buildings have been removed and the hillside has been reclaimed and re-vegetated to create a park-like setting.  The park extends to the rim of the open pit where the Homestake Visitor Center is now located.  Similarly, the large mine dumps located behind the open pit have also been reclaimed.




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