Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

On March 21, 1998, a landslide impacting the Homestake Gold Mine’s open cut area temporarily halted operations. By April, underground mining was once again safe. However, the workforce at the mind was reduced from 850 to just 380 employees and gold production was reduced from 400,000 ounces to approximately 180,000 ounces per year.

Just three years thereafter, officials announced that the Homestake Mine would permanently close. Larry Mann, the mine’s spokesman, stated that despite management’s best efforts, coupled with significant downsizing in 1998, the mine’s corporate officials believed there was no scenario in which the mine could be as productive as it had once been. Coupled with the falling price of gold, stockholders could not expect adequate returns on their investments in the mine.

When shutdown was complete, the remaining buildings of the Homestake Mine stood vacant. Some time later, talks of transforming the former mine into an underground research laboratory arose. The National Science Foundation became interested in the mine because the deep tunnels are an ideal location to study elusive particles called neutrinos and dark matter. After a large donation of $70 million by T. Denny Sanford in 2006, the site was selected to become a  Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL).

After years of delicate construction, Homestake is now known as the Sanford Underground Research Facility and continues to study dark matter and neutrinos 4,850-feet underground. The lab now attracts scientists and science enthusiasts from around the world to learn the past, present, and future of the former mining goliath.

To learn more about the Homestake Gold Mine, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s digital history archive. Learn more about the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory at the former Homestake Gold Mine at the Black Hills Knowledge Network issue hub page.

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On September 11, 2000, it was announced that the Homestake Gold Mine in Lead would be permanently closed after 124 years of operation. Larry Mann, the spokesman for the mine, shared that the falling price of gold and rising production costs were to blame for the closing. The Homestake Mine was once the oldest and largest producing gold mine in America, with a surface operation nearly a mile wide and underground tunnels descending more than 8,000 feet below the surface. It was also the largest employer in the northern Black Hills.

Though the news was a shock, many workers and townspeople observed previous signs that this day might come. Two years prior, Homestake officials announced massive changes to the mine including a complete restructuring of its underground operations, the shutdown of its open cut surface operations, and a layoff of nearly half the workforce. These changes were imposed to combat shrinking gold prices and sustain operations if gold remained valued above $325 an ounce; however, the price continued to decline. Over the next sixteen months, Homestake workers dismantled equipment and buildings while simultaneously mining the richest reserves to help stem the cost of the shutdown.

Less than a year later, the Barrick Gold Corporation purchased the Homestake Mining Company for a cost of 2.3 billion dollars. While it continued the shutdown of the company’s flagship operation in Lead, Barrick was interested in the other mines that Homestake owned including ones in South America and Australia. With this merger, Barrick became the largest gold corporation in the world.

When shutdown was complete, the remaining buildings of the Homestake Mine stood vacant. Some time later, talks of transforming the former mine into an underground research laboratory arose. The National Science Foundation became interested in the mine because the deep tunnels are an ideal location to study elusive particles called neutrinos and dark matter. After a large donation of $70 million by T. Denny Sanford in 2006, the site was selected to become a  Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL).

After years of delicate construction, Homestake is now known as the Sanford Underground Research Facility and continues to study dark matter and neutrinos 4,850-feet underground. The lab now attracts scientists and science enthusiasts from around the world to learn the past, present, and future of the former mining goliath.

To learn more about the Homestake Gold Mine, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s digital history archive. Learn more about the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory at the former Homestake Gold Mine at the Black Hills Knowledge Network issue hub page.

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State and congressional leaders as well as scientists from across the globe have met to launch the Long-Based Neutrino lab at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, officially breaking ground on the biggest science experiment in world history. According to the Rapid City Journal, digging will now begin which will take up to three years due to the 875,000 tons of rock that needs to be removed before the research equipment and tanks can be installed for the experiment. Once preparations and construction are done, the Fermilab near Chicago will send a beam of neutrinos through solid rock to sophisticated detectors at Sanford.

To read up on past and current news articles related to the Sanford lab, click on this Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive link.

For more information on the Sanford lab, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network webpage.

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Ten years ago on July 10, 2007, the National Science Foundation selected the Homestake Gold Mine in Deadwood to become a Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL). The closure of the gold mine was announced in September 2000 after 124 continuous years of operation. The mine was sealed shut in 2003.

In order to facilitate work with scientists proposing the DUSEL, the South Dakota Legislature established the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) in 2004. Just two years later, the Homestake Mine was donated the mine to the SDSTA by the Barrick Gold Corporation. The donation released the gold company from any future liabilities or environmental concerns as a result of the new laboratory.

Homestake was unanimously selected as a location for a DUSEL by a panel comprised of 22 field experts. In the first round of competition, the Homestake Mine was among the top two finalists--the other was the Henderson Mine in Colorado--out of an initial group of eight. However, the National Science Foundation reopened the competition a year later in 2006, allowing the Universities of Seattle and Minnesota to submit proposals. Another year of careful resulted in Homestake winning outright.

Learn more about the DUSEL at the former Homestake Gold Mine at the Black Hills Knowledge Network issue hub page.

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In May 1900, the Homestake Mine produced $185,000 worth of gold ore every fifteen days, according to The Sumpter Miner. In order to maximize production at the mine, a new cyanide plant would soon be installed and was expected to double the mine’s production. At the time, the mine was “600 feet wide and over a mile long” and employed approximately 1,500 men.

The Homestake Mine was first discovered by Fred and Moses Manuel, and Alex Engh and Hank Harney in 1877.  It was later purchased by another trio of men—George Hearst, Lloyd Tevis and James Ben Ali Haggin. Hearst took control of the property late in 1877 and hauled in much of the equipment by wagon.

The mine operated until 2001 with the exception of a brief closure from 1943 to 1945 due to World War II. The closure came as a result of low gold prices.

At the time of its closure, the mine reached 8,000 feet deep and produced nearly 40 million ounces of gold. Following its mining days, the mine was sought after for its underground structures for researching neutrinos. The mine is now known as the Sanford Lab, after philanthropist T. Denny Sanford who contributed $70 million toward the project. 

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The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) taking place between the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago is slated to begin construction shortly. The Rapid City Journal reports that the project, arguably one of the most sophisticated in human history, will see the Fermi lab send a stream of neutrinos towards the receiving facility a mile beneath the surface at the Sanford lab. These tests could reveal what role neutrinos play in the universe, how heavy elements form, and why the universe consists of matter instead of antimatter.

To read up on past news articles related to the Sanford Underground lab, click on this Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive..

For more information on the lab and its history, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network news page.

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On March 15, 1904, the State Convention of the Socialist Party in South Dakota gathered in Sioux Falls to elect individuals to represent the party in the upcoming state elections. One of these individuals was Freeman Knowles of Deadwood, who was chosen to run for governor as a socialist. Freeman Knowles, originally from Maine, was a Civil War veteran and a newspaper publisher who moved to the plains after the war and published multiple newspapers before settling in the Black Hills in 1888 and creating the Meade County Times, the Evening Independent, and The Lantern.

Knowles had some success as a politician in South Dakota, but was an infamous newspaper publisher in the state. While running under the populist banner, he was elected to represent South Dakota in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1897 to 1899. Given his previous success, the convention elected him to run for governor under the socialist ticket in 1904 as well as 1906, but to no avail. With around 3,000 votes in both elections, Knowles came in a distant third place. Despite the losses, Knowles continued to spread his socialist ideologies in his newspapers, especially The Lantern, until he was arrested and sentenced to one year in prison in 1908 for “sending obscene materials through the mails.” He would die only one year later.

Far-left politics had considerable influence in the Black Hills and the rest of South Dakota around the turn of the twentieth century. The left-leaning ideologies of populism and socialism gained ground in the state, especially around the mining areas of the hills, and became strong enough to present their own officials to run for office with some success. The most active left-leaning organization in the hills was the Lead City Miner’s Union which took an active part in caring for the mine workers and their families. The union won the fight for eight-hour work days and provided entertainment and even sick pay to some workers. After a lockout in 1909-1910 broke the Lead City Miner’s Union, most socialist sympathies were also crushed or moved elsewhere. 

For more information about Lead, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's community profile

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In January 1998, the Homestake Gold Mine announced a major restructuring of mining operations to help maintain operations during a time of low gold prices, according to an annual report by the United State Geological Service. The mine suspended operations until April 1998.

When operations resumed that spring, only 280 workers were brought back, down from the 850 prior to the restructure. Gold production also decreased to 4,300 kilograms in 1998 from 12,400 in 1997.

Less than three years later, the Homestake Mining Company announced that the Lead gold mine would permanently close. The mine operated for 124 years, before officially closing at the end of 2001. The mine currently serves as a neutrino research center.

Learn more about the Homestake Gold Mine by reading previous stories on the Black Hills Knowledge Network. 

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On September 28, 1888, George Hearst purchased an Edison dynamo to power 75 Edison lamps in the Golden Star Mill in Lead, South Dakota, which was installed that winter. The Golden Star Mill was commissioned nine years earlier for $251,500.

George Hearst was a self-made millionaire and owned a major interest in the Homestake Gold Mine. Hearst married his wife Phoebe in 1862, and they had their only child, William Randolph, the following year. William Randolph Hearst chose not to enter the mining industry like his father, and went on to become a renowned media guru who influenced many facets of American life.

To read more about the history of Lead, visit the city's Black Hills Knowledge Network resource page

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The Sanford Underground Lab is preparing to receive and store portions of a needed 1.4 million liters of xenon gas over the next couple of years. The Rapid City Journal reports that the xenon is needed to perform the facility's next experiment named LUX-ZEPLIN. The experiment, which is scheduled to take place in 2018, will be designed to detect black matter particles which is possible due to the lab's location one mile underground. Further discoveries on dark matter could help to unlock new research into our galaxy and its formation.

To check out past news articles related to the Sanford Underground Lab, click on this archives link.

For more information on the lab and its current research as well as its past history as the Homestake Gold mine, check out this Knowledge Network resource page.

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When Fred and Moses Manuel, Hank Harney and Alex Engh discovered a gold outcropping near Lead, they claimed their find and named it the Homestake

They had located the area from which the placer gold in Deadwood Creek had eroded. More rock mining regions opened up around Lead and Deadwood because of this discovery.

For $70,000 in 1877, a trio of mining entrepreneurs -- George Hearst, Lloyd Tevis, and James Ben Ali Haggin -- bought the Homestake from the men who discovered it. Hearst arrived at the mine in October 1877 and took active control of the property.

Hearst had to haul in all the mining equipment by wagon from the nearest railhead in Sidney, Neb. Despite the remote location, an 80-stamp mill began crushing Homestake ore in July 1878.

The partners sold shares in the Homestake Mining Co., and listed it on the New York Stock Exchange in 1879. The Homestake would become one of the longest-listed stocks in the history of the NYSE.

Homestake miners crushed rock to release the gold, concentrated the gold by gravity methods, and then exposed the concentrate to mercury that would amalgamate or mix with the gold. Miners call this kind of gold ore "free milling." Gold existed elsewhere in the Black Hills, but it was not in the free-milling state. Gold chemically bound to rock and difficult to remove is called refractory gold ore. 

For many years, the Homestake operated as the only major gold mine in the Black Hills. Mining ceased from 1943 to 1945 due to World War II, and the mine closed at the end of 2001 amid low gold prices. Through 2001, the mine reached 8,000 feet deep and produced 39.8 million ounces of gold and 9 million ounces of silver.

Soon, scientists coveted the mine's extensive underground structure for research purposes, after physicist Ray Davis had won a Nobel Prize for his neutrino experiment. (See related article.) After a complex process of securing funding, negotiating scientific turfs and some political tussles, Homestake Mine became an underground research facility, now known as Sanford Lab. It is named for philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, who donated $70 million to the project. 

Published in Home
Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

Open Cut Zip Line Proposal Hits Roadblock

A proposal to repurpose a defunct part of Lead's Homestake gold mining legacy has not so far found support with the mine's owner, Barrick Gold Corp., reports the Rapid City Journal

Two Lead businessmen hope to build a zip line over Lead's Open Cut, a defunct open pit gold mining site in the center of town. However, a Barrick official told city officials at a public meeting that the mining company has no plans to work with the would-be zip line operaters due to liability concerns. 

The Lead mayor rebuffed suggestions that the city intervene by using eminent domain, calling that idea "morally wrong." 

Read more about Lead on the Black Hills Knowledge Network

 

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A new sculpture in Lead honors the legacy of the Nobel Prize winning physicist who advanced neutrino research with an experiment in the underground Homestake gold mine during the 1960s, reports the Black Hills Pioneer and the Sanford Lab website

With a large tank of chemicals installed in the 1960s, Ray Davis Jr. showed that the understanding of neutrinos at that time was not on point. His findings earned him the 2002 Nobel Prize for physics. That prize provided momentum to the idea that the recently shuttered gold mine be turned n into an underground science lab.

On Aug. 26, a sculpture by South Dakota Artist Laureate Dale Lamphere of Sturgis was dedicated. The Ray Davis Jr. Memorial, on the Sanford Lab Visitor Center near downtown Lead, features a tank support from Davis' experiment and includes a stainless steel ring that floats inside the support. 

Read more about the Sanford Lab on the Black Hills Knowledge Network

 

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The Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center welcomed more than 750 people to its dedication on June 30, reports the Black Hills Pioneer.

Lead’s newest tourist attraction and historical center, an 8,000 square foot building located near the Open Cut, includes exhibit space for historic and informative displays, a gift shop, a simulated cage ride, a large observation deck overlooking the Open Cut, a classroom, and office space for the Lead Chamber of Commerce. Lead-Deadwood school officials hope to use the classroom space in the visitor center to create a new educational outreach program.

Governor Dennis Daugaard gave the keynote address at the dedication, discussing the scientific breakthroughs made at the Homestake Gold Mine in the past, and its incredible potential for the future. South Dakota Science and Technology Authority Executive Director Mike Headley also took the time to recognize South Dakotan philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, U.S. Senator Mike Rounds, and Governor Daugaard for their contributions to the Sanford Lab project.

For more information, visit the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center Facebook or website or the Black Hills Knowledge Network archive.

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The Grand Opening of Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center in Lead was held on the Open Cut Observation Deck yesterday, June 30, reports the Rapid City Journal.

Governor Dennis Daugaard was the keynote speaker for the grand opening; also present were U.S. Senator Mike Rounds and T. Denny Sanford, a well-known South Dakota philanthropist. The 8,000 square foot facility is home to historical displays and information about the history of Homestake and the city of Lead, as well as Sandford Lab, which is now housed within the closed mine system.

Designed by Dangermond/Keane Architects, and engineered by TSP Inc., and Albertson Engineering Inc., the construction of the visitor center by Ainsworth-Benning Inc. was delayed by rain in May and June, but Lead is pleased to have it open now. Mayor Jerry Apa hopes that the center will provide a link to Lead’s past and hope for its future, by providing a new attraction for tourists and furthering the development of Lead’s downtown.

For more information, visit the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center website or Facebook page or the Black Hills Knowledge Network archive.

Published in News
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 00:00

Sanford Lab Records Nepal's Earthquake

Instruments at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead recorded the earthquake that rocked Nepal on April 25, according to the Sanford lab website

A team from the Deep Underground Gravity Laboratory (DUGL), headed by Victor Tsai, assistant professor of Geophysics at the California Institute of Technology, had installed 15 seismometer stations at various lab sites ranging from the surface to 4,850 feet below ground. Every station, sensitive to even 1 micrometer of movement, recorded the April 25 event. 

Scientists said the earthquake was the result of an ongoing collision between the Earth's Indo-Australian plate and its Eurasian plate. The Indo-Australian Plate is pushing under the Eurasian Plate at a rate of nearly 2 inches per year, the Earth's fastest moving event of its kind.

 

Published in News
Tuesday, 07 April 2015 00:00

Early Neutrino Researcher To Talk In Lead

Dr. Michael Cherry, Dean of the Physics Department at Louisiana State University, worked for eight years with Nobel Prize winner Dr. Ray Davis on his solar neutrino experiment at Homestake in the 1980s. Cherry will be at the Sanford Lab on Thursday, April 16, and will share his experiences in a public presentation. 

Dr. Michael CherryCherry conducted research on the 4,850 Level of the Homestake Mine. He worked with Davis and mainly focused on studying cosmic rays, using the Large Area Scintillation Detector (LASD).

Cherry has continued to research cosmic rays and solar neutrinos, including the CALET Project (CALorimetric Electron Telescope), which will collect data from the International Space Station.

Cherry will discuss his experiments and experiences at Homestake in a public presentation At 7 p.m. on April 16 at the Deadwood Gulch Convention Center. His talk is sponsored by the Sanford Lab and the Lead and Deadwood chambers of commerce. The presentation will follow the Lead-Deadwood Community Fund Chili Feed, which begins at 5 p.m. The presentation is free to the public. The Chili Feed is $6 for all you can sample.

Traffic note

Possible travel delays in Deadwood are ongoing in April, and temporary signals will replace a four-way stop. Traffic will be reduced to one lane at the junction of Cemetery Street and Highway 85.  This could cause some delays when coming to and from Lead.
 
Motorists are encouraged to take the Central City route instead of Highway 85 when traveling between Lead and Deadwood.
Published in News

An experiment now under construction at the underground Sanford Lab in Lead will pursue one of humanity's most basic quests -- the makings of stardust, if you're a romantic, or nuclear fusion within stars, for the more scientific-minded. 

Construction on the CASPAR experiment -- Compact Accelerator System Performing Astrophysical Research -- should be completed by August, and the experiment could be operating by January 2016, reports the Sanford Lab website

Researchers are preparing equipment at the University of Notre Dame and will move it into the Sanford Lab once construction of the experiment cavern is complete. 

Researchers leading the CASPAR experiment say they chose the former Homestake gold mine for the same reasons many other scientists have, to sheild their work from cosmic radiation by going deep underground. Additional elements are being incorporated into the CASPAR cavern's construction to further sheild radiation.

Read more about the Sanford Lab on the Black Hills Knowledge Network

 

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The Historic Homestake Opera House in Lead will host a celebration in honor of its 100th anniversary with events Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Black Hills Pioneer reports.

The back wall of the theater is host to a detailed timeline of the history of the opera house from the first brick laid to the present day. People are encouraged to write their own opera house memories on the timeline. Select memories will be included in a 200-page coffee table book.

Those interested in submitting memories and information for use in the book may do so online at www.leadoperahouse.org/century-book.html. Submissions may also be e-mailed to [email protected]

Friday
  • 5:30 p.m. -- Social catered by Cheyenne Crossing
  • 6:30 p.m. -- History of Homestake Opera House presentation, featuring speakers, memories from longtime Lead residents, a photo exhibit and a video.
  • 7:30 p.m. -- Concert by Black Hills Blend and the 50-member Shrine of Democracy Chorus. Admission by donation.
Saturday

A day of film screenings features free popcorn with water, soda and beer available for purchase.

  • 2 p.m. - Screening of “Muppets Most Wanted.” Free for kids with a $5 chaperone admission.
  • 4:30 p.m. - Screening of several black and white classic films. Admission by donation.
  • 7 p.m. - Screening of “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Admission by donation.
Sunday
  • 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. -- Photo and video presentations on the opera house's first 100 years.
  • 10 a.m. - Tour, 45 minutes and wheelchair accessible. Admission fee.
  • Noon - Tour, 45 minutes and wheelchair accessible. Admission fee.
  • 2 p.m. - Tour, 45 minutes and wheelchair accessible. Admission fee.
Monday
  • 10 a.m. - Tour, 45 minutes and wheelchair accessible. Admission fee.
  • Noon - Tour, 45 minutes and wheelchair accessible. Admission fee.
  • 2 p.m. - Tour, 45 minutes and wheelchair accessible. Admission fee.

 Read more about the Homestake Opera House online.

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Construction of the new Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center began Monday, June 30. The ceremony took place on the patio of the current visitor center located in Lead at 160 West Main Street.

Speakers at the event included Mike Headley, executive director for South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA), Joyce Carsten, President of the Lead Area Chamber of Commerce, Ron Wheeler, Director of Governmental and External for SDSTA, and Jerry Apa, Mayor of Lead.

The new 8,000-square-foot visitor center will include offices for Lead Chamber of Commerce, retail space and a classroom.

Ron Wheeler added that “we will be looking at conducting workshops [at the new visitor center’s classroom] to train science teachers – especially middle school teachers.”

Three thousand square feet of the visitor center will be dedicated to telling Lead's story, from its gold mining beginnings to Homestake's transformation into an underground research facility. 

Lead Mayor Jerry Apa ended the event with a speech that stated "We are not only witnessing the culmination of years of planning and hardwork, but the beginning of a new adventure that will enrich and expand the knowledge and wisdom of all who visit this site."

Find more information about the Sanford Lab on their website and on the Black Hills Knowledge Network. Explore more information about Lead at the Chamber of Commerce website.

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525 University Loop, Suite 202
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 716-0058   [email protected]