Just want to let you know, it’s pronounced “Leed” not like pencil lead, but to “lead” a horse to water. The reason the town is called Lead is that there are quartz-like veins in the rock that “lead” the miner to the gold in the mines. Back in the day these were sometimes called Lodes .. as in “We hit the mother lode”.
We are so glad that we had the opportunity to visit and volunteer in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We have heard so much about the beauty that abounds in this area of the country and when we found out about the possibility of volunteering at D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives … well … we jumped at the chance!
We are camped in “Volunteer Village” which is a separate area of the Spearfish City Campground. The entire campground is set along side Spearfish Creek that starts up in Spearfish Canyon and travels down through the City of Spearfish and travels north to eventually become the Redwater River and then ultimately into Belle Fourche Resevoir.
Since we work 3 half days on duty / 3 days off) as volunteers at the hatchery, we have plenty of time to see the sights. Add to that the fact that one of our additional benefits of working here is that we are given VIP passes from the Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association.
This card gives us the opportunity to visit 50+ area attractions for free or deep discounted pricing. The purpose is to familiarize us volunteers with everything that the Black Hills & Badlands area has to offer and be eager to share the information about the attractions with visitors to the hatchery as we serve as tour guides in the venues here.
As you can see by the map below, the downtown areas are only about 3.5 miles apart … it’s like one larger community now but back in the day there was quite the rivalry between the towns … so much so that when the wealthy W.E. Adams at age 71 married his second wife of only 28 years, the gossip and shame cast upon him by other upstanding citizens of the community was NOT the fact that he was marrying a MUCH younger woman, but that he was from Deadwood and she was from Lead!
(The following was taken from blackhillsknowledgenetwork.org) ” Lead was founded in April 1876 by brothers Fred and Moses Manuel who had ventured out from the booming gold town of Deadwood in search of gold. The brothers discovered a promising vein of ore near current-day Lead. Such veins were called leads. The brothers staked their claim, built a mill and in the spring of 1876 mined $5,000 worth of gold from what would eventually become Homestake Gold Mine. “
Kathy wanted a coffee, so we stopped in to this cute little former gas station in Deadwood that now serves as a coffee shop and a glass-blowing studio! Customers can buy the finished product, or make their own at the direction of the owner.
After the coffee stop, we moved on to the Homestake Mine / Sanford Lab Visitor Center just down the road in Lead where we were treated to a trolley tour of the town and the history of the gold mine and the impact it had on the town. The mine was closed in 1983, but is being used today as a research facility at over 5000′ below ground level (under the open pit portion). When the mine was in operation, it had over 350 miles of tunnels down as deep at 8500 feet!
They dug the open pit as deep as they could and ultimately started digging and blasting tunnels down as deep as 8500′ below ground level!
This was a fascinating tour and you can find out more about the history of the Homestake Mine and it’s impact on the area around towns of Lead and Deadwood along with the current neutrino research work going on underground at the 5000′ level by following this link.
We drove to the top of Mount Roosevelt located just northwest of Deadwood in the Black Hills National Forest where we parked and then took a trail and walked up about 3/4 mile to the site of the “Friendship Tower” that was built by Teddy Roosevelt’s good friend Seth Bullock. We just happened to be there on the 100th anniversary of the completion of the tower July 4, 1919.
After Mount Roosevelt we drove on up to Mount Moriah – the highest point in Deadwood and the home to Deadwood Cemetery. We drove up through the narrow old streets to the parking lot, paid our $2 entry fee and then continued to climb up through the grounds stopping to look at well worn stone monuments of those early pioneers we didn’t know and we saw the burial spot of some of the more famous Black Hills pioneers as well.
Continuing our walk up the streets of the cemetery to the top, we then turned off to a trail that took us up another 750 feet to the burial site of Roosevelt’s good friend Seth Bullock. Seth wanted to be buried at this spot so that he could look across the valley to the Friendship Tower on the top of Mount Roosevelt. You can read all about Seth Bullock, his influence on Deadwood and the Black Hills along with his close friendship with Teddy Roosevelt by reading this Wikipedia article.
There’s still much more to see and do in the Deadwood / Lead area and you can find out more by following this link.
We’re having a wonderful time volunteering here in the Black Hills at DC Booth Historic Fish Hatchery and we have a lot more to share with you. We’ll continue to send along updates as we visit new and interesting places in the area.
If you’re not already subscribed to this blog, you can easily do so by scrolling up to the top of any page and entering your email address in the block on the right side.
You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel (herbnkathyrv) on You Tube.
If you’re curious (at any time) to know where we are at that moment then click the button at the top right of this page labeled “See Where We Are Now“.
We’d love to hear from you. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, you can send us a note. Again, thanks for riding along. ’til next time – safe travels.