Our surface tour of the Homestake Mining Operation takes you through the historic town of Lead and Homestake’s underground 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. You get off the bus 2 times to go inside the different facilities of the operation that are located on the surface.
On completion of your tour you will receive a sample of ore that was drilled from the Homestake Gold Mine.
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 –…
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.…
The town of Lead has played a pivotal role in the history of the Black Hills. Home to the Homestake Gold Mine and sister city to the town of Deadwood, the streets of Lead tell a tale as rich as the gold mined from its hills.
As you click through this informative section, take a moment to read the captions and enjoy learning about Lead and its entire splendor.
Click here to start your tour through the history of Lead.
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!”…
The Homestake Gold Mine Surface Tour & Visitor Center in Lead, SD, is open daily during the summer months of June, July, and August and Monday-Saturday from September to May. The center offers surface tours of the Homestake Gold Mine which run daily. This center also features a short informative film regarding Homestake, historic and educational memorabilia, and a fabulous gift shop. You can also view the Historic Open Cut, the original claim of the Homestake Mining Company back in 1876.
The Black Hills Mining Museum in Lead, is open 9:00am to 5:00pm Tuesday through Saturday. This establishment allows you to take a step back in time and explore the rich and colorful history of Lead and gold mining in the Black Hills. You can view many historical items such as machinery that was used to actually mine the gold in the Homestake Gold Mine and other area mines.
Lead Main Street – You will find many lovely stores that host a variety of items. We have antique stores, & eateries, museums, art galleries, and the Historic Homestake Opera House all on Main Street. Also, take time out to see many of the historic houses or buildings located all around Lead.
Deadwood, SD – A great place to take a step back in time. This town has done a fabulous job on restoring the Historic Main Street. Deadwood is just 3 miles from Lead. While in Deadwood check out the Adams Museum and House, Mt. Moriah where Wild Bill and Calamity Jane are buried.
The Days of ’76 Museum features Old West and Native American artifacts and over 60 historic horse-drawn vehicles, including the original Deadwood Stage.
The Adams Museum and House The Adams House, built in 1892, is an elegant Victorian mansion which became the Adams House Museum following a detailed restoration. The Adam House Museum tells the story of two 19th century families, and reveals a cultured lifestyle not commonly associated with the American West.
The George S. Mickelson Trail is a great place for biking, skiing, horseback riding, or walking. This trail is 114 miles long and takes one through the entire Black Hills from Lead to Edgemont SD.
Spearfish Canyon – Designated a National Scenic Byway. It is located on Highway 14A and twists through the 19 mile gorge. Enjoy the cool freshness of Spearfish Creek, Bridal Veil Falls and Roughlock Falls along the canyon. This is a great place to fish, hike, bike, or picnic.
Crazy Horse Memorial & Mt. Rushmore National Monument are only a little over an hour from Lead on south Hwy 385.
Lead, South Dakota on the average receives over a hundred inches of snow throughout the winter months. This allows the Black Hills to have a fantastic base for skiers and snowmobilers. There is enough snow for everyone!
Skiing usually opens up the day after Thanksgiving. We have 2 slopes in the area. Either slope is just minutes from Lead.
Deer Mountain Ski Resort – They offer down hill skiing and cross country. Terry Peak Ski Resort –
Snowmobiling: Snowmobiling opens up December 15th. The trails will be groomed by this date. We have over 300 miles of groomed trails and over 2,000 miles of off trail access. Many of the resorts or listings below offer lodging, restaurants and/or sled rentals.…