WILD BILL DAYS GOLD PANNING
JUNE 17-18, 2017
August 1874, Horatio Ross and the Custer expedition discover gold on French Creek near present day Custer, SD. When word of the discovery got out the rush was on. A steady stream of gold seekers from across the country began to flow into the area looking to find their fortune in the canyons of the Black Hills. From the small discovery at Custer, prospectors moved north looking for richer diggings until they discovered Deadwood and Whitewood creeks near modern day Deadwood. Here they found the richest beds in the hills which eventually led to the discovery of the Homestake Mine in Lead, SD. During its time in operation, Homestake was the largest gold mine in North America and remains the second largest, by gold production, in United States history, having produced approximately 40 million ounces of gold. While the majority of the gold produced from the Black Hills came from the lode deposits, the majority of the romance of the 19th century gold rush lies in the placer beds of the northern Black Hills.
The lure of Deadwood was too much to resist for thousands of prospectors, including western legends like Wild Bill Hickok and Wyatt Earp, who came to the Black Hills in search of riches and adventure. We celebrate James Butler Hickok's time in Deadwood during Wild Bill Days in June, organized by the Deadwood Chamber of Commerce. During this celebration Northern Hills Rec along with the Black Hills Prospecting Club provide lessons on gold panning. Modern day gold seekers can choose to try their luck panning the free dirt taken directly from the creek or, if you are looking for a guaranteed find, choose to buy some "pay dirt." Come to Deadwood during Wild Bill Days and learn how to pan gold from some genuine Black Hills prospectors!