Monday, September 14, 2009

Black Hills mining

Another reader request - Black Hills mining history. If you aren't familiar with the settling of the Hills, it all started with George Custer's expedition through the area which confirmed rumors of gold in 1874. After that there was no stopping people from digging into the hillsides and extracting gold, silver, tin, mica and several other minerals.

Mining is still going on today, but photographically it's the older historical mines that are interesting. If you pay attention as you travel through the Black Hills, small depressions, shafts, crumbling buildings and some huge open cut mines are evident in all areas.

Unfortunately when I started researching for this post, I discovered that several of the mines I have photographed in years past are now posted as off-limits to exploring. I will show some of those mines here, but my next post will be more useful to those who want to find spots for their own photos.

This wooden structure near Keystone is now behind a locked gate along with the large hole filled with water next to it.

West of Custer is Tin Mountain Mine, until just recently open for poking around in. This is one of my favorites and I was saddened to see "No Trespassing" signs posted all around the mine. Nothing to do but obey them, however. I'm glad I got these shots when I did. The man made cavern in the side of the mountain is huge enough to contain a nice-sized house.

In Keystone, several tunnels lead into a mountain with it's top removed, forming a small lake.

At the tiny town of Galena, the Emma Mine complex is high on a hillside overlooking the gulch.

Next up - mines you can visit with directions on how to find them.

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Jonathan said...

Hi Chad,
Is the Emma Mine on public or private land? Looks like a area worth exploring with the camera next time I am in the area.

Thank you

Chad Coppess said...

Unfortunately, the Emma Mine is on private property and at the top of a very steep hill accessible only by rugged four-wheel-drive trail. I'm sorry, but I don't think it's open to public visitation.

Jonathan said...

I figured it was but thought I would ask just incase, theres plenty of them still on public land to discover.

Thank you,

Unknown said...

I was just in this mine last week, have been visiting for my whole life and really never knew much about it. Last I saw there were some old tractor tires thrown in the bottom of the main room and a few feet of water covering other trash and a makeshift beer pong table sitting by a fire pit up by the water, unless this is a different mine? I'd like to say it's the same mine just by the locations of the entrances and that boulder just left of the main entrance as you enter.