Gold Prospecting in South Dakota
In 1874 gold was discovered by a group of men under General Custer at French Creek in South Dakota which later became Custer County. Not being too concerned that the Black Hills area was still owned by the Sioux, prospectors were soon busy trying to get rich.
Whitewood and Deadwood Creeks proved to be rich in placer gold. The town of Deadwood soon grew up around the rich gold area, which was an illegal settlement known as one of the most dangerous places to live and work in the country. As Deadwood had no particular law and order in evidence, prospectors took their chances.
As the miners expanded their search they found some extremely rich placer creeks and also some lode sources that proved very profitable. There are plenty of streams in Custer County that will produce gold.
It didn’t take long to find all the easy pickings, when thousands of miners came to the area, and soon commercial mining began, with the Homestake Mine being the deepest gold mine in the country. Still, there is lots of gold left for the hobbyist prospector.
Near the Wyoming border to the west, the Black Hills will probably be the profitable area to search. Millions of ounces have come from Custer, Lawrence and Pennington counties, and even though they’ve been mined, you can still find quite a bit.
Lawrence County is the home of the Homestake Mine, producing over 20 million ounces over its lifetime. Strawberry, Elk and Deadwood creeks all have placer gold, as well as Yellow, Squaw and Annie creeks. There are quite a few lode mines near the town of Lead, and many of the creeks and gulches have been worked.
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Pennington County has seen less gold produced than Lawrence County, but still has been nothing to sneeze at. Located in the Black Hills to the south, there are some abandoned and some active mines in the area, and Castle, Battle, Spring and Rapid creeks will all show placer gold.
As always, be respectful of private property and claimed areas. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding of plenty of area to start searching.