Written on August 20th, 2020
Fred and Moses Manuel discovered a large vein of gold in a rocky outcropping three miles south of Deadwood in 1876 and named it the Homestake Mine. Over the next 125 years, it produced 40 million troy ounces of gold, making it one of the richest gold mines in the world. The Homestake Mine closed in 2002, but Lead reinvented itself as a city on the cutting edge of science. Today, visitors will find plenty of homages to the town's gold mining days, but this former company town offers more than just memories of gold.
The Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center, located beside the 1,250-foot deep "open cut" portion of the Homestake Mine, houses exhibits dedicated to the city of Lead and the mine's long and illustrious history, as well as information on the experiments taking place at the Sanford Underground Research Facility more than a mile underground. Guided tours are available, and guests can even hit a golf ball into the open cut for a guaranteed hole-in-one. The Black Hills Mining Museum preserves the town's gold mining past with a variety of exhibits and activities. Visitors can tour a recreated gold mine and pan for gold, taking home what they find. The Historic Homestake Opera House, built in 1914, was founded by Phoebe Hearst to provide cultural opportunities for the town's citizens. In its heyday, it featured a 1,000-seat theater, recreation center, library, bowling alley, billiards hall, social hall, and indoor swimming pool. The Opera House was destroyed by a fire in 1984 but has since been rebuilt. Every year, dozens of arts/educational events are held, and guests can take part in a tour of the historic building.
Located in nearby Deadwood, Blackstone Lodge & Suites makes a perfect getaway for families and executives, with spacious suites, three hot tubs, a pub for sampling local craft beer on tap, and a complimentary hot breakfast. If you'd prefer a smaller, more intimate stay in the heart of Lead, the Dakota Spur Hotel features nine rooms in the main hotel, with five additional rooms in the Kruger House. Amenities include a Guest Lounge with complimentary breakfast, free pool table and foosball, and a smoking deck ideal for relaxation after a busy day exploring the northern Hills.