Take a Tour of Homestake

Our surface tour of the Homestake Mining Operation takes you through the historic town of Lead and Homestake’s surface operation. It follows the mining process including hoisting, crushing and milling of the underground ore and views Homestake Gold Mine’s state-of-the-art Waste Water Treatment Plant and open pit mine.

This is a guided tour that takes about 1 hour. You are taken via bus through the city of Lead then up to the Homestake surface operation.

The Cost of a Surface Tour

Group- $5.50 (10 or more people)
Adults- $7.50
Seniors- $6.75
Students- $6.50
Family- $25.00 (4-6 family members)

The tours run daily from May – September.
You do not need to book a tour in advance unless you have a large group of people.
If you have a large group of people, we recommend that you book your tour a few days in advance
and we offer group rates as well.

If you have any questions regarding this information –
please call 605-584-3110.


From Interstate 90

Take Hwy 85 (Exit 17) south off I-90 towards Deadwood. Once you reach Deadwood, Hwy 85 turns into Hwy 14A. Stay on Hwy 14A through Deadwood – it will take you straight to Lead, SD. Once in Lead, you will take a left at the first stop light. Stay on this road – it will take you down Historic Main Street. The Homestake Gold Mine Surface Tour & Visitor Center is located at the end of Main Street on your left hand side.

Traveling North on 385
(from Custer & Hill City)

Travel North on Hwy 385 until you come to the Lead/ Deadwood junction of Hwy. 385 & Hwy. 85. Turn left, drive one mile and you will arrive at Lead’s Historic Main Street. The Homestake Gold Mine Surface Tour & Visitor Center is located on the right side of the street (160 West Main Street). We look forward to seeing you soon.

Our Story

The Homestake Gold Mine was one of the early enterprises associated with the Gold Rush of 1876 in the northern Black Hills of what was then Dakota Territory. The mining community of Deadwood was the center of the gold fever, with tents, sawmills, log houses and saloons springing up seemingly overnight. But the real action would happen three miles away “over the hill” where brothers Fred and Moses Manuel and their partner Hank Harney located their Homestake claim on April 9, 1876. Moses liked what he saw in an outcropping of a vein of ore, referred to as a lead and pronounced “leed.” Soon more prospectors materialized, and no time was lost in selecting a site for a new town. On July 10th work began on laying out the town lots, and that work was completed the next day. Miners were offered the lots, 50 x 100 feet, but were required to build on the lots in 60 days or forfeit them. That spurred many on to build on the front half and then sell the back half. Progress came quickly. Telegraph service began December 1st and by early 1877 four hotels, a grocery store, saloon, bakery and butcher shop were up and running.

In June 1877 George Hearst, who had earlier sent an agent to offer a bond to owners of the Homestake claim, bought the four and one half acre claim for $70,000. No stranger to mining, Hearst had mining interests in Missouri, California during its gold rush, Nevada, Utah, and Montana. He later represented the State of California in the United States Senate. He and his wife Phoebe had one son, William Randolph Hearst, who, rather than continue in his father’s footsteps in the mining businesses, chose to manage his father’s newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner. William became a publishing magnate and was a pioneer in the radio and television industries.

With a population of 8,392 in 1910, Lead was the second largest community in South Dakota. The employment opportunities for not only miners, but also laborers and mechanics were excellent. After George Hearst’s death in 1891, his widow Phoebe made substantial contributions to the educational and cultural life of Lead. She was responsible for the establishment of the first kindergarten in the entire West. In addition, she arranged for the Homestake Mining Company Homestake Opera House and Recreation Building to be constructed as gifts to the community from the company. Tickets had to be purchased for events in the Opera House, but use of the swimming pool, bowling alley, meeting rooms and library was free.

Throughout the decades to come the City of Lead and the Homestake Mine were confronted with challenges ranging from an epidemic of Spanish influenza, nearby forest fires and even a fire in the mine, which was extinguished by a deliberate flooding of the mine and subsequent dewatering with no ill effects to the mine or its equipment. But on the whole, the city and its residents prospered as a result of the mine. In the early 1930s, as the rest of the nation suffered economic hardship throughout the Great Depression, the management of Homestake set a shorter work week with an increase in wages, and provided end of year bonuses to workers.

During World War II, gold mining operations were suspended by order of the War Production Board. The young men of the city joined the armed forces, moved to locations where copper mines were operating or worked in airplane factories. The older men who remained in what was by then an almost deserted town worked in the Homestake foundry or machine shop producing goods needed for the war effort, including parts for airplanes, wrenches and hand grenades.

The following decades saw modernization of mining techniques and procedures, including the advent of computerization to the Homestake Mine. The workers voted in 1966 to be represented by the United Steel Workers union.

In September of 2000 a Homestake Mining Company spokesman announced that the mine would close. In January of 2002, the Homestake Gold Mine finally shut down after more than 125 years of continuous operation.

Hoist operator, Laurie Skavang of Lead inscribed this message on an exhaust fan 4,550 feet underground, “Farewell to all! Thanks 4 being my friend. We will all stand tall, and I’ll treasure it ’till the end!”

Welcome to HomeStake

The story of the famous Black Hills Gold Rush has been told and retold. These accounts include countless history books, numerous fictional novels and most recently HBO’s loosely historical series, Deadwood.

The times of “fabulous fortunes” were sensational, wild, perhaps wicked and short lived. The actual Deadwood/Lead gold rush began in 1875 and ended in 1877. Yet gold was to play a huge role in the area’s history, economy and development for many, many years to come.

Toward the end of the big Black Hills gold rush, mining magnate, George Hearst arranged to purchase one of the most promising claims in the Lead/Deadwood area for $70,000 and incorporated it as the Homestake Mining Company. That was the beginning of a story with a list of accomplishments, both technological and civic that is over 126 years.

Before its closing in 2002 Homestake Gold Mine was the oldest, largest and deepest mine in the Western Hemisphere, reaching more than 8000 feet below the town of Lead.

Without a doubt, the best place to begin to uncover the fascinating story of the Homestake Gold Mine is the Homestake Visitor Center at 160 West Main Street, Lead SD.

The Homestake Visitor Center provides captivating surface tours that explore the historic town of Lead and both Homestake Gold Mine’s underground and surface operations. It also offers free viewing of the historic 1876 Open Cut mining area, artifacts, an informational mining video, historic and educational memorabilia and a gift shop.