Gold Mountain Historic Mine Restored

Contact(s): Michael Salisbury (605) 343-1567



Rapid City, SD - Volunteers with the Black Hills Historic Preservation Trust and Passport in Time program recently worked with the Black Hills National Forest to restore a historic gold mine, located outside of Hill City, SD.

Michael Salisbury, archaeology technician, Black Hills National Forest, said that a Forest Service Moon Walk that took place to the old mine initially sparked interest in preserving the structure. “Originally the site was considered a real public hazard. It is really easy to access from Hill City and so the Forest Service was concerned about safety,” said Salisbury. “We had open mine shafts on the site, so a contract was put out to take down the structure, to fill in all of the mine shafts, and to make this site safe.”

The public got very involved when we first started talking about closing the mine Salisbury said. “The amount of response we had from the local citizens and the money and the leadership they were willing to donate… we had to look at it again,” said Salisbury.

“We set out to save this mine and luckily got a really great partnership with Black Hills Historic Preservation Trust. They have been cooperating with us for about four years on this project” said Salisbury.

“It’s the last one on public property in the forest, there used to be hundreds of them around thirty years ago when I started coming out here and we just felt it was something worth preserving, something to look at.” said Skip Tillisch, Black Hills Historic Preservation Trust President. “When history is gone, it’s gone forever and you can’t get it back.”

This year the workers worked to finish up the support of the structure. “Next year we hope to put up signs on a ¾ of a mile interpretive trail,” said Tillisch.

Both Salisbury and Tillisch said they could not have accomplished this project without the help from Passport In Time (PIT) volunteers. “We have twelve people from nine different states that paid their own way to come out and work on this project,” said Tillisch.

PIT is a volunteer archaeology and historic preservation program of the USDA Forest Service. The objective of PIT is to preserve the nation’s past with the help from the public. Forest Service archaeologists and historians take volunteers from across the nation on projects to restore prehistoric and historic sites.

Earl Edwards, PIT volunteer, said his wife and himself have enjoyed coming out to the Black Hills for several years to help with various projects. They have been out every summer to help with the restoration of the Gold Mountain Mine and he said it is satisfying to see it coming to a completion. “This is the last one of these that is standing in the whole Black Hills and so if this one fell over or got pushed over, which was a consideration for safety, then there are no more and its harder to dig up that history and the history is interesting,” said Edwards. Edwards also noted that there hadn’t been any injuries on the project in spite of the hot weather, heavy lifting and work. “It is going really well.”

“I hope that heritage resources as well as the Black Hills Nation Forest in general can support projects like this, hopefully yearly,” said Mike Hilton, Heritage Resource Program Manager, Black Hills National Forest. “We really are in a good situation because of the Black Hills Historic Preservation Trust and their interest and their willingness to help out with labor and finances because we wouldn’t be able to do it without partnerships like that.”

When asked Salisbury, Tillisch, Edwards, and Hilton all said their favorite part of the project has been the people.

“Just meeting the folks that have volunteered, that’s pretty incredible. These folks have come from a long, long ways and it cost them a lot of money to get here. They provide their own food and they get here by paying for their own gas and I think that’s pretty incredible and they should be acknowledged for that, for their support,” said Hilton.

Salisbury said the original Gold Mountain Mine was constructed in the 1920s and operated until 1940 in its present form. “It was shut down in 1941 by a war department order, L-208 and it shut down all of the precious mineral mining all across the United States, so that those miners could go work in the war industry, such as copper mining and things that they needed to make war materials,” said Salisbury.

“We can look back and learn a little about the mining history on the Black Hills,” said Salisbury.

For more information on the PIT program, visit