A place called Lead, South Dakota was once one of the largest (and deepest) gold fields in America. Homestake Mining Company was founded in 1877 after George Hearst purchased a primary 10-acre claim for only $10,000. Eventually, they were able to secure up to 8,000 acres! More than 40 million ounces of gold were extracted up until 2002, when Homestake Mine ceased its operation. It was later the site of several particle physics studies. Now, it is the location of the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL). This lab utilized all 8,000 feet of depth.
Also known as “Gold Country”, this western area of the Sierra Madre Mountains is one of the richest gold deposits in the world. Nowadays, it extends all along Highway 49. What started out as the Kennedy Gold Mine at Sutter’s Mill in 1870, soon turned out to be the catalyst for the infamous “California Gold Rush” of 1848 to 1855. Attracting more than 300,000 gold hunters, San Francisco’s population quickly grew from a meager 1,000 to a shocking 25,000 by 1850!
Neighboring California, it isn’t surprising to learn that Nevada is also home to one of the country’s largest gold mines. Carlin Trend, Nevada was first discovered as a gold field in 1961 by geologist John Livermore. He was looking for a rumored “invisible gold” that was mentioned in publication written by another geologist by the name of Ralph Roberts. Invisible gold is deposited in soil by hot springs, and is so fine it can hardly be detected by older, traditional methods of panning. Places like Indonesia and China have similar “Carlin Trend-style” deposits. In 1965, Newmont Mining began their gold extracting production, and Carlin Trend has been a well-known source of gold ever since.