On our way to Roughlock Falls, we saw a pretty intriguing sight – A Hydro Electric Plant that was built in 1917. This year is the 100th Anniversary of the building so we couldn’t resist stopping the car to explore it.
We could not enter the building because of the “No Trespassing” signs and a big fence around the property. Researching on the internet, we were able to find out about the history of the plant.In 1877, a group of investors including George Hearst (father of William Randolph Hearst) bought the Homestake Mine from the men who discovered it for $70,000. The investors incorporated the mine company and began selling shares on the New York Stock Exchange in 1879. It would become the first and longest – listed mining stock in the history of the exchange.
The Homestake Mining Company Hydro Electric Plant No. 2 was constructed in 1917 to supplement the power of Plant No. 1 which was built in 1910. They both contained turbines that provided power for the Homestake Mining Company’s gold mining operation in Lead, South Dakota. The pipes that diverted the water to the plant were made of redwood and later lined with concrete.
In 1947, a landslide damaged the conduit of the Hydro Electric Plant No. 2 and it was shut down. Plant No. 2 is now owned by SD Game, Fish and Parks. Plant No. 1 is still running and is owned by the City of Spearfish.
The Homestake Mining Company was one of the largest gold mining businesses in the United States from the later 1800’s to the beginning of the 2000’s. It merged with a Canadian-based gold mining corporation in 2002. There is a bit of controversy in that the mining operations still use a toxic gold cyanidation process that has been banned in many countries except that courts in Colorado and South Dakota have ruled against the bans.
Lex and I were very careful to shoot video around the property with the zoom lens. You could hear the powerful creek underneath and imagine what the powerful turbines insides must have looked and sounded back in the day.
Afterwards, we climbed down to the creek and Lex felt the cold water. I just wanted to skip around the rocks. It was a beautiful day and I’ll never forget it!