By Nancy Carr
Northern Hills Prospectors, a local GPAA chapter based in Deadwood, S.D. has announced plans to hold its Deadwood Gold Show 2016 in mid-October.
The chapter members thought it was time to have a gold show in the Black Hills of South Dakota again to bring everybody back to the area,” said Nancy Denke, chapter secretary. “The last gold show, put on by a different club, was held in 2012 so the time seemed right to get people back up into the Black Hills.”
Deadwood was an infamous Wild West town that is now a international tourist destination. It is the place where western gunslinger Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Sheriff Seth Bullock and Preacher Smith lie buried in Deadwood’s Boot Hill, officially known as Mount Moriah Cemetery. The town was the focus of HBO TV series, Deadwood, and rivaled Tombstone, Ariz. as one of the most notorious towns in the American West.
Deadwood is also where John Perrett, a.k.a. “Potato Creek Johnny” found his famous 7 3/4 troy ounce gold nugget back in 1929, one of the largest nuggets ever found in the Black Hills, which he sold to a local businessman for a paltry $250, although at the time, still a lot of money. A replica is on display at the Adam’s Museum in downtown Deadwood.
The Homestake Mine, once the largest and deepest gold mine in North America, is located in the neighboring town of Lead. This mine was founded by the Manuel Brothers in 1876 and has produced more than 40 million troy ounces of gold. The Homestake is now a national science lab and research facility, called the Sanford Underground Research Facility. It was chosen by the National Science Foundation to search for solar neutrinos and dark matter at more than 4,000 feet underground. The new Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center is rich with the mining history of the Black Hills.
There are also several other western and mining museums that highlight the rich culture and history of the area and nearby points of interest including world famous Mount Rushmore. With 1.2 million acres of natural adventure land in the Black Hills, there’s something for everyone in the family.
Take in the sights and stop by the show which is slated for October 14-16 in the Roosevelt Room at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Deadwood, S.D.
The show will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and the chapter is hoping to have a diverse range of vendors who specialize in not only placer mining equipment and techniques but also hard rock mining, Denke said.
There are four GPAA claims within 25 miles of the Deadwood/Lead area for local and visiting members who come for the show and want to get out in the woods to try their hand at gold prospecting in them thar hills.
The chapter currently has 106 members and holds its regular meetings the first Saturday of each month at 9 a.m. in the Prospectors Room at Deadwood Mountain Grand Hotel and Casino.
“We also have a lot of out-of-state members that make it out at least once a year which is kinda fun,” Denke said.
“We’re going to try to have a small gold panning contest. We have room to do our panning with the kids like what we do every year for Wild Bill Days which is held in Deadwood every June. The kids have the choice of either panning paydirt or panning for free and trying to find gold,” said Denke.
Renewing interest in the outdoors, specifically the Black Hills is also a motivator to hosting the show.
“With the U.S. Forest Service trying to block everything off, we’re trying to bring people back to the hills to enjoy what’s there,” Denke said. “They are trying to close down an 8,000-acre area ... It’s absolutely crazy.”
The controversy seems to stem from a wildflower known as the fairy slipper, which is considered to be a “sensitive species” by the U.S. Forest Service.
But, despite some loss of access to public lands, “there is a lot to see and lots of neat places to go around the Black Hills,” Denke said.
Denke said there is still room for vendors who wish to attend the Deadwood Gold Show. Those interested are asked to call Northern Hills Prospectors Secretary Nancy Denke at (605) 457-2266 or her mobile (605) 515-0090. She can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nancy Carr is a freelance writer based in Menifee, Calif. She is a member of the Gold Prospectors Association of America.