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The Spokane Gold mining district is named after this site. In fact the mine is so substantial and impressive that they created a mining district specifically for this mine. The Spokane Mine produced silver, gold and lead in appreciable quantities and employed from 50 to 80 men at any given time. The mining camp supported the miner’s families and all of the usual needs of those families.
A little town was built up around the mine. Today that town still shows its mining colors. It’s a real ghost town, with no residents. It does boast an old school, some very nice double level houses, a few wells and foundations all over. The mine itself has been covered by the over-reaching Forest Service in a back room deal made with the last mine owner. It will take some work to re-open this mine and some good capital for bonds.
7 miles outside of Keystone, South Dakota. Roads to the gate are easy 2WD paved roads. There is a gate located about ½ mile from the claim site. This gate states that only horses and foot travel are allowed at this time. With a proper notice of intent, vehicle access through the gate will be granted. Beyond the gate it is a 1 mile walk to see all aspects of the claim. There is a small parking area located just outside the gate.
This mine is an excellent site for someone who is looking to break into commercial mining. Read the history, this mine has been a consistent producer and would likely still be in operating condition if a suspicious fire had not destroyed the old mine buildings. A few old (1960s) documents from American Smelting state that there is over $100 Million dollars in silver reserves, $7 Million in Gold and a substantial amount of lead in reserve. That’s in 1960s dollars, when silver and gold were cheap. As a reference, that $7 million in gold in 1960 is worth $204,432,022.00 today. Silver of that quantity today is worth $1,584,615,384. Yes, that is 1.5 Billion dollars, sitting in the ground, waiting to be worked.
Above the potential for return, the claims are beautiful. The old buildings are stunning. The history is vibrant and alive. At night you can almost feel the old ghosts of the town coming to life and going about their business.
The history is stunning here. There was a large mill until the mid 80s when a fire (Forest Service??) burned the mill to the ground. A “reclamation” covered the mine and the old mill site and it will need to be re-opened. The mine site included a school house, many houses, wells and other implements of a small mining town. The town reportedly existed from 1891-1987. The mine produced primarily silver with some gold. The drop in market for silver mothballed the town. This was a massive mining site at one point in time. The entire town of Spokane, South Dakota was created around the mine located on this claim.
Roads to the gate are easy 2WD paved roads. There is a gate located about ½ mile from the claim site. This gate states that only horses and foot travel are allowed at this time. With a proper notice of intent, vehicle access through the gate will be granted. Beyond the gate it is a 1 mile walk to see all aspects of the claim. There is a small parking area located just outside the gate. This can fit 1 or 2 vehicles now. Once claim owner has access provided through the gate, the claim is large and flat. You could park as many vehicles, trailers and equipment as you want on the claim. These could be parked around the houses or at the mine.
As early as 1890, this famous mine has produced lead, zinc, gold, silver, and as side products, hematite, graphite, beryl, mica, arsenic, and copper.
Gold – Primary
Silver – Primary
Lead – Secondary
Zinc – Secondary
Comments on the workings information
The main ore shoot is developed by a shaft and drifts at the 60, 100, 200, and 300 foot levels. A second shoot is developed by a 41 foot raise and a 50 foot wince. The third shoot is undeveloped.
Analytical data: Two carloads were assayed at $23.00 a ton in 1898 (That is when gold was valued at $18.98 an ounce).
Materials – Type of material
Argentite – Ore Chalcopyrite – Ore Galena – Ore Anglesite – Gangue Pyrite – Gangue Quartz – Gangue Vanadinite – Gangue
Host rock type: Metamorphic Rock- Metasedimentary Rock- Slate
Ore body information
Strike: E-W Dip: 70 N Thickness: 7.62M (25 feet) Length: 220.37M (723 feet) Overall depth: 91.44M (300 feet)
Ore control descriptions: Fissure
Comments on the geologic information: Silver and gold are associated with the galena, some gold is also associated with the pyrite.
Deposit: Three ore shoots are present along the fissure vein which is conformable with the enclosing schist, except where it cuts a small pegmatite.
USGS Database – Spokane Mine
The history of the mine is extensive. Reading back through the old local newspaper, the Deadwood Daily Pioneer Times, gives us some great insights into the mining operation.
January 10, 1892 – Talks of Buying the Spokane
Prof. D. M. Hyde, of Appleton, Wis., was Investigating the silver district west of here during the week. It need surprise no one if Mr. Hyde soon procures control of the Spokane mine, at least a deal is on foot looking to that end, and the price will be way up into the thousands. The property, owned by King, Phlaney, Tarbox and others in that viclalty also impressed Mr. Hyde very favorably and they would no doubt be purchased also Prof. Hyde represents a strong company of capitalists who make business of dealing in mining property as well as lumber lands, and he is greatly pleased with the Spokane and surrounding properties his report to his company may be anticipated. That the Spokane will prove a veritable bonanza to anyone who is financially able and qualified to open up and work the mines as It should be, there can be no question. The matter of the purchase will doubtless be determined at once after Mr. Hyde returns to Appleton. which will be this week. The deal means much to the entire Southern Hills, for it is a positive detriment to this region to have mines of such value as the Spokane remain idle. It is hoped that Mr. Hyde’s company and the present owners of the Spokane can come to a satisfactory agreement, and consummate their deal soon, so that with the dawning of the spring months this rich silver region may take on the boom that is sure to come.
March 27, 1892 – The Spokane Mine
The Deadwood papers announce the sale of a seven-eighths interest in the Spokane mine for $80,000. Through the Union it was announced that Messrs, Stenger and Humphrey, who were largely instrumental in securing an amicable settlement of the litigation over this mine, but been given a bond on the property and further than this nothing in the way of a sale has been effected. Mr. Humphrey was seen on the street the other day and after being informed of the purport of the Dead-weed announcements said that if anyone should know of the sale, he ought to be that one and that he desired to contradict the statement. confessing however, that there were strong indications that the sale would eventually be consummated. The gentleman further stated that great things were expected from the mines in the region of Spokane and that unless all signs fail, there would increased miming activity In the camp pretty soon, if not railroad building.
April 24, 1892 – Another Spokane Strike
Sylvester Judd was in from the Spokane mine yesterday and in conversation with a Journal reporter stated that a few days ago the men employed in the Spokane mine made a rich strike on the cross-cut on the 60 foot level. He says the ore is silver with some gold and it is the richest that has yet been taken out of the mine, and that the mine owners in the district are jubilant over the discovery. It is not known what the extent of the vein of ore just encountered is, but the miners are pushing work on it and will endeavor to find out as soon to possible. Mr. Judd stated that he considered the Spokane one of the best and most prosperous mine, in the Black Hills country, and that before the year 1892 closes it will be one of the bullion producers. The mine owners are busily engaged in developing their respective claims in the district, and all are hopeful of securing bonanzas.
April 2, 1899 – Southern Hills Mines
Work is soon to resume again in the Spokane mine and a number of other properties in that district are being developed at the present time which are said to give promise of becoming very valuable. In the Spokane mine, a large body of galena ore of fine quality and richness was uncovered just before work was suspended some time ago.
July 14, 1899 – The Crown Hill Annual
Dr. Jones stated that at the annual meeting of his company it was decided to put up a concentrator plant of 50 tons capacity at. the Spokane mine, as the plant In operation at present is inadequate. The shaft at the Spokane has been put down to the 200 foot level, and drifting is now in progress on the ore body, which is showing up remarkably well.
December 9, 1900
There has been an increase in the capital stock of the Crown Hill Mining Company recently, sufficient to enlarge the concentrating plant at the Spokane mine. The company also intends to sink the shaft on the property from the present level, 300 feet, to the 500 foot level.
March 29, 1918 – Rushing Construction at Spokane Mine
It now appears probable that by the middle of next month the Spokane mine, at Spokane, near Keystone, Pennington county, will be operating at full blast making a large production of lead and silver. The finishing touches are being put on the mill, and it is expected that it will be completed and ready to treat ore by that time. The company has a force of fifty men at work about the mine, mill and camp, and every effort is being made to get things in shape on the day set. The big new hoisting plant should be completed by Saturday night, and that will mean that mining can be pushed. The company’s nearest railroad point is Keystone, and efforts are being made to have the commissioners of Pennington county repair and rebuild the road from the mine to that place, for the company will have a large tonnage of lead concentrates to ship, and the road is not in good enough condition at present to make it possible to haul the big loads over it. The county commissioners are said to be willing to spend $5,000 on the road which they estimate will cover about one-half of the costs-and want the merchants, the mining company and others interested to advance the balance.
July 9, 1924 – Spokane Mine Will Again be Producer
Word has been received from Hill City that the Spokane mine, one of the well known producing properties at the early days in that section, has been taken over by eastern parties and that it will again be placed on a producing basis. For some time work of unwatering its workings had been in progress, and after that had been accomplished mining engineers gave the property a most thorough examination, and the result has been the determination to again place it on a producing basis on the strength of the reports made on its possibilities. It is a silver-lead proposition, its ore carrying about 60 per cent lead, and while its sliver content is not so high, the lead, for which there has arisen a great demand makes it a valuable proposition. The present shaft will be sunk to the 300-foot level, drifts and crosscuts driven, stopes excavated and the mine worked for its lead and silver. There is a good mill on the property and this will be employed in treatment of the ores.
November 11, 1927 – Spokane mine Looks Good
D. J. Hafford, representative of the Cleveland Rock Drill company, was a visitor in Lead yesterday on company business. He recently made a trip to the Spokane Lead and Silver Mine in the southern Hills of Custer county. The mine is being operated by the firm of Winterbottom and Connelley, of Cleveland, and Mr. Winterbottom and his son, Joseph, Jr., are at the mine now in charge of operations. Complete modern machinery, including a ten-stamp mill, a ball mill, and classifiers have been installed, Mr. Hafford said, and the prospects for the mine are excellent. A good body of lead and silver ore with a small gold value is in sight at present, Mr. Haftord declared, and he was confident that it would widen out as the shaft was lowered. If the ore increases in size additional machinery will be installed to take care of the larger output, Mr. Hafford said.
January 4th, 1928 – Spokane Mine Near Keystone Suffers A Fire Loss $70,000- Blaze Starts in Saw Mill and Sweeps to the Power Plant
Approximately $70,000 fire damages resulted at the Spokane mine, 25 miles southwest of here between Keystone and Hermosa, last night when the smokestack in the sawmill became overheated. setting the roof on fire. The flames spread to the power house which was also destroyed. About 20,000 feet of newly sawed lumber was burned. Work in the mine was not interrupted. F. A. Gira, general manager and vice-president of the Spokane Mining company, said this morning that work has already been commenced toward repairing the loss. Silver, lead and gold are mined in considerable quantities at the company’s holdings. About 80 men are employed at present. The ore are concentrated at the Spokane mill and shipped to Omaha for refining. A serious catastrophe was avoided through fast work on the part of the men who kept the gallows frame from burning although they were in flames several times. The gallows, as Mr. Gira explains are a continuation of the shaft, extending 54 feet above. Had this structure burned, the mine would have been seriously crippled, he said. Some of the machinery may be salvaged and repaired. The two large generators in the power house are thought to be damaged to such an extent that it will be impossible to repair them. Steam power for operating the machinery is being generated from the boilers in the mill. The sawmill was a large wooden structure, 90 feet long and 24 feet wide. The power house was 70 feet long and 50 feet wide. The hoist, compressor and boiler in the two buildings can probably be repaired, Mr. Gira said this morning. The fire broke out shortly after 6 o’clock last night, spreading raipdly. Realizing that there was possibility of losing the two buildings, efforts were directed to keep the flames from spreading to the other structures. B.A. Gira is the assistant general manager of the mine. Activities at the mine were increased considerably during the last year and the company added several large pieces of machinery.
November 2nd, 1930
A crew of forty men, under the direction of Superintendent Phillips, is at work cleaning out the Spokane mine in the Keystone vicinity, ready for operations. It is a lead and silver proposition principally and is also a good gold proposition. The mine has been idle three years. When the cleaning out of the Spokane has been completed and operations will have begun, work will then be commenced on the Cuyahoga, a sister property similarly mineralized. The two developments promise plenty of activity in that district.
December 31st, 1930 – Development is Underway at the Spokane
The Spokane Sliver and Lead company has been modest about letting the world know about how they are developing their property, which is located about half way between Hermosa and Keystone. and adjoining the state park on the north. Aside from making many surface improvements during the past few months, to the mills and otherwise, they have been most active in developing the mine, principally on the 200-foot level where they have been following a 15-foot ledge which is bringing encouraging returns. A recent assay of the ore is said to show 62 per cent lead, 23 ounces of silver, 4 1-2 per cent zinc and gold. Some copper is found in parts of the mine. Development work is also being extended on the 300-foot level, and the shaft is also being sunk deeper—all showing results that are arousing increased interest in the Southern Hills. Ross Brothers, of Terry, have a contract for considerable mine work. Minor Phillips, superintendent of the Spokane mine, well known to all old Homestake Mining company employes (sic), expresses hope of developing an outstanding mining property. They are now employing about 100 men, the number having been steadily increased during recent months. The new highway which is being extended from the state park to Mount Rushmore, over the top of Iron Mountain, goes close by the Spokane mine through what is one of the most picturesque regions of the Black Hills.
January 1st, 1931 – Rich Ore Brought in From Spokane Mine
The Pioneer-Times is indebted to Minor Phillips, superintendent for the J.H. Winterbottom corporation, operator of the Spokane mine near Keystone for an excellent specimen of high grade gold-silver-lead ore brought to the city last evening by Robert Hogarth, who is employed at the mine. The specimen was taken from the 24-foot ledge where operations are now being conducted. The ore assaying $4 in gold, 24 oz. silver and 50% lead to the ton. The specimen brought in, about two inches square, weighs one and one-half pound. One hundred and ten men are employed at the mine and operations are being pushed to capacity. One thousand feet of drifting has been done during the past month.
April 18th, 1931
Spokane Mine Will Pay Outstanding Debts Soon is Said
Minor T. Philips, superintendent of the Spokane mine, has made public a telegram which reads as follows:
Cleveland, Ohio, April 11, 1931. Minor T. Philips: Meeting held, arranged to pay one half of claims cash, balance by first of month. Put men drawing mill ore bin starting to ship. Put carpenter on second level repairing chutes. Will wire you money not later than Thursday. Will leave for mine last of week. Push things along.
H. L. Burkey.
This news, if true, will end a long fight of the Spokane to overcome difficulties in developing and operating an admittedly rich mine, caused by the prevailing hard times and condition of the money market. Other mining propositions are also looking up in the vicinity of Custer.
September 12th, 1931
Custer Chronicle: The Spokane Mine, which has been operating with a more or less short-handed crew, has struck an extremely rich vein of lead ore, which Minor Phillips says assays about 80 percent lead with some silver and gold showing. They have about six hundred tons he says, of this rich ore already mined. The crew consists of about 15 or 20 men. but arrangements are being made to increase the number of those employed.
November 28th, 1931
Plan to Electrify Spokane Lead-Silver Mine in Near Future
Early electrification of the Spokane mine and commencement of actual mining operations were forecast by J. A. Foerstner, of Cleveland, O., secretary of the Spokane Silver and Lead company, in a long distance telephone conversation with D. W. Davis, Saturday night. Mr. Foerstner said that present shut-down was but temporary to permit organization for mining operations following the showings obtained in the recent explorative survey. The Spokane was visited in August by a group of Ohio and Michigan capitalists and mining engineers. They agreed to put up the funds for a technical survey of the properties under the direction of Prof. Francis C. Lincoln, professor of metallurgy at the South Dakota State School of Mines. Robert F. DeBaach came here from Dayton. O., as official observer and the exploration work was carried on by a crew of 20 men under Supt. Minor T. Phillips. Recently Mr. DeBaach returned to Ohio to make his reports. It is believed locally that the decision to electrify the mine through-out is the result of a favorable report by Mr. DeBaach and Professor Lincoln, and that this points to the long-desired steady operation of the mine on a commercial basis, real Thanksgiving news for this section. The Spokane has long been regarded as an exceptional property, several large bodies of ore having averaged 46 per cent lead, with silver and gold enough to run over $50 at current market prices.
January 20th, 1932 – Spokane is Largest
The largest single project in the Custer territory is the Spokane Silver and Lead mine, where gold obtained as a by-product, is said to have run $4, with over $50 in silver, lead and zinc as major ores. This property was surveyed by eastern financiers during the late summer, and commencement of regular operation is looked for by those best informed. Eighty men were employed in the test survey, and the mill will use about 130 in full-time operation.
August 27th, 1933 – Litigation Over the Spokane Mine Up in Court at Springs
A group of Dayton, Ohio. residents arrived in the city last evening by plane and are spending several days in the Black Hills, looking after mining interests near Keystone. The party includes Harry S. Price, his son, Gail Price, his son-in-law, R. F. Debach, and R. Aullenwuter, pilot. Mr. Price has been here on several occasions in connection with the Spokane mine near Iron Mountain. He is conferring with his local attorneys, C. A. Eastman, W. P. Rooney and E. B. Adams, who have represented him in connection with considerable litigation regarding the old Spokane Silver & Lead Company. Judge Walter Miser of Rapid City, and Attorney C. R. Cross of Cleveland, Ohio, met with Mr. Price and his attorneys here last evening. Litigation over the affairs of the mining company was expected to start in Custer county circuit court today. Extensive operations at the Spokane mine are being planned when legal action is completed, Mr. Price has announced.
September 3rd, 1933 – Spokane Lead and Silver Mine Sold
Litigation of the affairs of the Spokane Lead & Silver mine, located near Iron Mountain, was settled this week in circuit court. The mine was sold Aug, 28 to Harry S. Price, Dayton, Ohio, contractor, the highest bidder, and he will head the new company. The mine has long been considered one of the outstanding mines of the Black Hills, and came into recognition about 40 years ago when Hawk Wright and seven associates took over $40,000 in silver in one fall. They later traded their interests for gold bearing properties.
January 15th, 1936 – May Reopen Spokane Mine Near Keystone
Harry S. Price of Dayton. O., and his attorney, J. P. Sheridan, arrived Saturday to confer with Attorneys W. P. Rooney and C. B. Eastman with the prospect of refinancing and reopening the Spokane mine, east of Iron mountain. Frank Pelton arrived from Cleveland Sunday in connection with the same matter. The mine, located between the Game Lodge and Keystone, near Mt. Rushmore, was operated for ten years by the Spokane Sliver & Lead Mining company, which employed 75 men. A mill is situated on the grounds. Title to the property has been in litigation for some time.
August 17th, 1941 – The Spokane Mine
This mine was in operation a short time during the year and shipped 81 tons of lead-silver-gold ore to the Helena, Mont., smelter.
June 22nd, 1952
According to information received here this week the old Spokane lead and silver Mine has been acquired by the American Smelting and Refining Company. Indications are that it will be put into operation soon. The Spokane, 15 miles east of Custer, is one of the oldest mining properties in the Black Hills and is known to be one of the richest. It was purchased some time ago by the Iron Mountain Development Company of Cleveland.
December 31st, 1953
The American Mining & Smelting Company, the only other operator reporting production, made several small shipments of gold-silver-lead ore from the Spokane and the Silver Queen mine.