2018 Mining History Association Tour


Southern Black Hills Pegmatite Mining
Tour Leaders: Bob Otto and Tom Loomis
June 7, 2018


The MHA tour of the southern Black Hills pegmatite mining area began in Deadwood.  The trip south travelled through the Keystone Gold Belt passing many historic metal mines before arriving in Custer, in the heart of the pegmatite district.  To say that pegmatites are a special form of granite is selling them short.  They are known for the amazing variety of mineral species they sometimes contain including many considered strategic.  Minerals containing tin, mica, lithium, beryllium, columbium, and tantalum, along with many others, are among those found in the South Dakota pegmatites.  Much has been written about pegmatites and the many theories of their formation.  Those wanting a quick introduction to the pegmatites and mines in South Dakota will find Tour Leader, Tom Loomis’, web page very informative.


MHAers at the Tip Top Pegmatite Mine on the Southern Black Hills Tour

Tour Leader and host, Tom Loomis, explains the history, operation and geology of his Tip Top Mine and similar pegmatite mines in the area.

Tour members are no doubt thinking about what minerals they might find on the dumps.

Does anyone know the driver of that rig?


Like most of the pegmatite mines across the country in Maine, New Hampshire, Colorado, and South Dakota, when the US Government stopped purchasing strategic minerals in the 1950s, the mines shut down.

(Above) It is quite a view from the top of the mine dump looking toward the two kilns of the Black Hills Lime Company.


(Right) A grizzly makes a rough sort of the ore by size.  The larger pieces pass over the bars of the grizzly while the smaller pieces drop through the slots between them.


Our host discusses the operations at the mine.

MHAers are checking out the mine opening, to the rear, and the ore in the pile.

The kilns appear to be in good condition.

Our host describes the operation of the kilns.

The mine cars and a compressor are ready for inspection.

(Above, left) The ore house at the Townsite Mine near Pringle.


(Above, right) The trestle from the mine to the top of the ore house.


(Right) It was quite a scramble to get to the mine at the top of the dump.

(Photos Courtesy of Mark Langenfeld and Tom Loomis.

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