Thursday, January 26, 2012


Spearfish Canyon (Lodge), South Dakota

Spearfish Canyon South  Dakota
Hwy 14A, National Scenic Byway
Spearfish Canyon and Lead, (pronounced Leed), South Dakota are the last of our vacation spots that I will blog in detail.

Spearfish Canyon was so-named because Native Americans came down into the canyon along the creek (also named Spearfish)  to fish by spearing. The canyon is located near Spearfish, S.D. along the northern edge of the Black Hills National Forest. Within the forest is Harney Peak which is the highest natural point in South Dakota and east of the Rockies.

The 22-mile road trip through the canyon on US Hwy. 14A was a lovely September day with the leaves beginning to show their lovely yellow and orange tints of coming autumn. There are numerous waterfalls, and everywhere there was the bubbling sound of Spearfish Creek which runs through the canyon. Some beautiful homes built to fit into the environment were scattered along the route. US 14A is designated a National Scenic Byway.
Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota
Bridal Falls
There were towering rugged cliffs, sparkling waters, forest stands of pine spruce, aspen and birch. The Canyon is about 62 million years old, 12 times older than the Grand Canyon.

A family that enjoys outdoor activities would love Spearfish Canyon with over 700 campsites, 450 miles of trails including the Mickelson Trail named after the golfer, several smaller cities of tourism like Deadwood, Hill City, and Lead, and other famous sites with short driving distances.

Hiking, jogging, walking bicycling, horseback riding, bird-watching and fly fishing are popular activities. Some activities of note are National Trails Days, Spearfish Canyon Half-Marathon and 5K Walk, Ladies Marathon and Half Marathon, the Dakota Five-0.
Spearfish Canyon South Dakota
Hwy 14A, National Scenic Byway
SOOC (Straight Out of Camera)
Frank Lloyd Wright's parting words about Spearfish Canyon: "..a stately exposition of what decorated walls on enormous scale can do and it is that I've heard so little of this miracle..."

Lead, at the end of US 14A , is the home of Homestake Gold Mine, closed in 2002. Founded in 1876 it was sustained for 130 years as the richest gold vein ever unearthed. Today the many abandoned underground tunnels and caverns are contributing to the future. In 2007 the National Science Foundation selected Lead for the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory.

Where else has a progressive little city found a way to promote abandoned tunnels and caverns? Sometimes communities whine and complain, instead of spending time in creative, positive discussion and exploration.

Our tour stopped at the Homestake Visitor Center located on the edge of the Open Cut where gold was first discovered and last mined.

Homestake Mining Co.
Open Pit Gold Mine
Bottom - 800 ft.
Although our stop was only for the Open Cut mine bought by mining magnate George Hearst near the end of the Black Hills gold rush, the mine is only a part of the beauty  of Lead. The town's architecture is a rich heritage. A walking tour of 20 buildings of extraordinary design is a feature of Lead. From photos I have seen, (1) the Finnish Lutheran Church Building  (now a gift shop), (2) Glover House-home of George W. Glover, son of Mary Baker Eddy-founder of Christian Science Church, and still a private resident, (3) Christian Science Church, (4) Revell House/Main Street Manor, and (5) Homestake Powder House (transfer house for explosives-now a private residence) would be my personal picks to tour of the 20 buildngs designated as a walking tour.
Homestake Mining Co Open Pit
Lead, South Dakota
George Hearst, a mining magnate in a several fields including silver, copper and gold was the father of newpaper magnate William Hearst. Both had investment holdings in various enterprises.George Hearst had a successful political career also.
Dirt/Gold Cart, Homestake Mining Co. Pit
Lead, South Dakota
However, the years Hearst owned Homestake Mining Co. marked the beginning of a story of nearly 126 years of accomplishments, both civic and technological for Lead, SD.

Much of the area of South Dakota from Deadwood, Lead and Spearfish Canyon, with its settlers, celebrities and activities were depicted in an HBO series entitled DEADWOOD.

Closeup Hauler Wheel
Homestake Mining Co. Pit
Lead, South Dakota
Attribution: Material for this post has been assimulated from the Internet, Lead South Dakota Walking Tour of Historic Buildings brochure by Lead Historic Preservation Commission, Exploring The Black Hills and Badlands (The Great American Road Trip) and our Road Scholar guide.

Photos: by NitWit1 unless otherwise attributed.
Homestake Mining Pit -  Lead, South Dakota
Photo by Husband
Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota
Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota
Imagin the height of the evergreen in the
foreground, as the photo does not show
the base of the tree.

Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota
Hwy 14A, National Scenic Byway
Photo by Husband


rosaria said...

Beautiful pics.
I had no idea South Dakota had so many mines.

Betty said...

South Dakota is such a beautiful state! Thanks for the photos.

Arkansas Patti said...

How inventive of the town to make it a tourist mecca when it could easily have become a ghost town.
Really an interesting place. I would have been tempted to look at least a little for some overlooked gold.

Lisa said...

Very interesting post! I had know idea South Dakota had so many mines. It's such a beautiful state.

AND your photos are awesome!

Nezzy said...

Oh, just take my breath away with those beautiful pics!!!

It looks like the most amazin' trip ever!

God bless ya and have a great weekend sweetie!!! :o)