The discovery of gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1874 by members of the Custer Expedition sparked a gold rush that helped precipitate the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. The war culminated with the Battle of the Little Bog Horn and the expropriation of the Black Hills from the Great Sioux Resrvation. The famous Homestake mine in Lead, S.D., was located in April 1876 during th infancy of the gold rush. George Hearst and other California capitalists purchased the mine in 1877. Throughout its life, the mine produced 40 million oz of gold before being closed in 2001.
All of this is revealed in a new book, Nuggets to Neutrinos: The Homestake Story, written by Steven T. Mitchell. A native and life-long resident of the Black Hills (and long-time E&MJ reader), Mitchell graduated from the South Dakato School of Mines with a BS and MS in Mining Engineering. During his mining career with the Homestake Mining Co., he held various engineering and management positions at the Homestake mine. The book was written by a miner for miners.
Much has been written about the Black Hills (Custer) Expedition of 1874, but only a few authors have described how the Black Hills were expropriated for the benefit of the U.S. and miners in particular, Mitchell explained. “Unfortunately, the entire Homestake story has not been told to date, primarily because of the longevity of the mine and the seemingly abstruse and arcane nature of much of the historical information,” Mitchell said. “Although the final chapter about Homestake’s mining history has been closed, a new chapter about science has opened.” Today the 8,000-ft deep underground mine is being transformed into a science and engineering laboratory where scientists will conduct research on dark matter, astrophysics double beta decay, and solar neutrinos—hence the name, Nuggets to Neutrinos. The 738-page hardcover book is available from Xlibris Corp.