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In 1874 when General George Custer's Expedition was in the Black Hills, two miners named Ross and McKay attached to the expedition and discovered gold in the gravel on French Creek near Custer. Since that time around 32,000,000 of gold came from South Dakota. The Homestake mine is located here and it is the largest and richest gold mine in America.

Black Hills

Placer gold is found in the gravel bars of all the streams in the Black Hills. Several of these deposits have made recreational prospectors rich.

Custer County South Dakota

by Tom Ashworth


All of the streams, bench and terrace deposits near Custer contain placer gold. East of Custer 6 miles, along French Creek (original 1874 discovery site) in all bed, bench and terrace gravels you can find placer gold. The gold deposits extend all the way to Fairburn.

Lawrence County South Dakota

by Tom Ashworth

This county is where the Homestake Mine is located. Lawrence County has produced a total of 26,386,000 ounces of gold between 1875 and 1959. The GPAA has a claim on Boulder Creek that produces well.

Deadwood District

In the east central part of the county, including old camps on Deadwood , Two bit, Strawberry, and Elk Creeks produced 284,000 ounces of lode and placer gold. Along Deadwood, Whitewood, Gold Run, Bobtail, and Blacktail Gulches were some very rich placer workings. Along Spearfish Creek, there is rich placer gold. In spring Gulch, is the location of the Hidden Treasure Mine, which was a major producer of lode gold. On the west edge of town on US 14A is the location of the Broken Butte Mine which produced lode gold in pyrite and sphalerite. East of town 3.5 miles is the Mascot Mine, discovered in 1892, earliest records of gold production in the district. Southeast of town by 4 miles in Strawberry Gulch, is the Oro Fino Mine, discovered in 1893, for lode gold. Southeast of town 8 miles, near Roubaix on Elk Creek, is the Cloverleaf Mine. It had a total production of 43,885 when it closed in 1937.

Garden District

Northwest of Lead by 3 miles in Blacktail and Sheeptail gulches and False Bottom Creek, is the Garden (Maitland) district. Here you will find the Maitland Mine, discovered in 1902 and had a total production of 137,000 ounces of lode gold form 1902-1959. Other small mines bring total production of the Garden District to 176,000 ounces. West of Lead by 3 miles, in the Bald Mountain area, on the west slope of Bald Mountain is the Trojan Mine.

Lead District

The Lead District includes Yellow Creek in the central part of the county. On the south side of Lead on US 14A and US 85 is the Homestake Gold Mine, which is the largest gold producer in North America, with a total production of 24,450,000 ounces of lode gold from 1875-1959. It has an average annual output of 500,000 ounces of gold, with a lot silver as a by product. The Homestake consist of 654 mining claims covering 5,639 acres. Visitor tours are available. There are other smaller lode mines with lesser output.

Nigger Hill District

Near Tinton, in the Nigger Hill District, there were many area mines for lode gold. Along Bear, Potato, Nigger, Poplar and Mallory gulches were rich productive placers. Along Sand and Beaver Creeks you can find many old placer workings.

Ragged Top Mountain District

Near Savoy, is the Ragged Top Mountain District, it is about 5 miles long, lying west of Spearfish Creek, in the large bend of Spearfish Canyon. The first mines opened .5 miles north of Ragged Top Mountain 2 miles northeast of town, at Dacy.

Squaw Creek District

The Squaw Creek district includes the Ragged Top, Elk Mountain and Carbonate areas, had a total production of 75,800 ounces of lode gold. West and South of Ragged Top Mountain, many area mines produced lode gold. In Squaw Creek and Annie Creek, numerous mines, active before 1914 for lode gold. all regional stream, bench and terrace gravels contain placer gold.

Pennington County South Dakota

by Tom Ashworth

Immediately south of Lawrence County in the southern part of the Black Hills, Pennington county produced an estimated 128,000 of gold largely from lode mines, but with some placer deposits. The most productive areas for panners seem to be along Spring, Castle, and Rapid Creeks. In Palmer Gulch placer gravels are also said to be rich.

Hill City

From 6 miles southwest of town to 5 miles northeast of town has numerous mines. Total production is estimated at 35,400 ounces of lode gold. There are area mines in and around town. Near the head of Spring Creek you can find several old mines.


Keystone is in the western part of the county. The gold belt extends from 3.5 miles northwest of town to 1.5 miles southeast of town. The estimated production from 1875-1959 is 85,000 ounces of lode gold, plus unrecorded amount of placer gold. The area along Battle Creek had productive placers. The Keystone-Holy Terror Mine had and estimated production of 76,000 ounces of lode gold and was the most productive in the county.


Southwest of Mystic along Castle Creek, in bars and terrace deposits made up of quartz gravels you can find the important placer locations in Crooked Gulch, Hoodoo Gulch and Chinese Hill. Plenty of placer gold still being recovered.

Mystic-Placerville-Big Bend-Rapid City

Mystic-Placerville-Big Bend-Rapid City area, all along Rapid Creek for 40 miles you can find placer gold. Rapid Creek has produced some very nice placer gold especially at Neilsen's and near Placerville. In Placerville on Placerville Bar, Swede Bar and Stockade Bar were all very productive.

Rapid Creek

BY: Coley Foster

All along Rapid Creek on the Rochford road there are good placer deposits. The Standby Mine near Rochford was a pretty good producer. There a couple of GPAA claims along the road here. Also for new persons to prospecting there is a guy Named Lew Wight that has a claim (Glory Hunters) at the intersection of the Rochford and Mystic roads. He gives classes and provides equipment for people to work his claim. There is a fee but I am not sure how much it is. It did seem reasonable and his class was very good.

I work this area a lot


In the Rochford district, including a belt of mines 9 miles long, extending from 4 miles southwest of town at Myersville to 5 miles north of 30 degrees West at Nahant in Lawrence County is the Hornblende Belt. There are many mines in this belt.


Rockerville is in the center of an area of several square miles of high terrace gravel deposits that were very productive.


At Sheridan, along Spring Creek, there were many productive placer workings.

Silver City

West of Silver City you can find numerous mines that produced gold from quartz veins in schist. These mines produced gold, lead and antimony. North 2 miles from town along Rapid Creek there were many old mines that produced lode gold, copper and silver.

© Mike Higbee's Prospectors Cache / Mike Higbee - mailto:49erMike@tomashworth.com / Revised