High in the Black Hills, surrounded by Ponderosa pine forests, meandering trout streams and magnificent mountain meadows, are one of South Dakota’s most memorable twin cities: Lead & Deadwood.
Lead has been called the richest 100 square miles on Earth. Over a period of 126 years, miners pulled more than 41 million ounces of gold and 9 million ounces of silver from the Homestake Mine, the largest mine in the western hemisphere. Prospectors began arriving in the Black Hills in the mid-1870s. Very quickly, “Lead City” was transformed into a thriving community built around the gold-mining industry. In December 2001, however, that limit arrived. Homestake mined its final ore and left behind more than 370 miles of tunnels from the surface to the 8,000-foot level. Today, those caverns house world-leading research by Sanford Lab that seeks to understand the riches of the universe.
The Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center now is a modern and dramatic facility providing public outreach for the Sanford Underground Research Laboratory as well as interpretation of the history and cultural context of the Homestake Mine and the new underground Lab. A short video history brings it to life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrJtG_jLptg
After a physics lesson in WIMPS and Neutrinos, I followed the Bison to Deadwood to study the story of Tatanka. Amazingly, 30 to 60 million Bison once roamed the Great Plains of North America. By the close of the 19th century, it was estimated that less than 1,000 bison survived. I was very impressed by the hands-on education exhibits and 14 larger-than-life bronze sculptures of bison being pursued by Native American riders. I could almost hear the shouts of the hunters and the thunder of the buffalo’s hooves. Neutrinos are basically nothing. Bison, on the other hand, are inspiring, full of life and passion. Make this special place a “must see” stop in the Black Hills. Watch Kevin Costner talk about his passion for the Black Hills: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgbaEzGIl2M