The Homestake Mining Company was incorporated in 1877 and became one of the largest gold mines in the Western hemisphere. Throughout the ensuing decades, the mine grew into an influential and integrated industry in the northern Black Hills, particularly in the sister cities of Lead and Deadwood. Over the course of the company’s history, it celebrated many milestones and momentous occasions, including an extravagant celebration held for its ‘Golden Jubiliee’ in 1926.
Planning for the mine’s fiftieth anniversary began months in advance and involved hundreds of volunteers. The festival was planned as rumors swirled amongst workers and townspeople of the mine’s closure. The two day Jubilee was viewed by many as a respite from tensions over the future of the mine.
Advertisements for the celebration ran in local area newspapers throughout the year ahead of the celebration, which took place on August 6 and 7, 1926. According to a small article in the Lead Daily Call on February 24, 1926, the coming celebration would showcase the wonderful improvements in mining and milling over the past fifty years and the company planned to entertain double the normal amount of visitors to the area.
A considerable portion of the advanced planning surrounded the construction of a fully functional replica mining camp, complete with log cabins and buildings.
Placed in Poorman Gulch, which was located between Lead and Central City, the camp included saloons and dance halls, a church, and stores.
An impressive grandstand built into the hillside provided seating for 9,000 people. The grandstand allowed accommodation for the masses of spectators to view the pageants, parades, concerts, and festivities.
A special edition of the Lead Daily Call was printed on Thursday August 5, in preparation for the two day celebration. The issue featured regular news and advertisements as well as specialized information regarding the mine and its history. According to that edition, the mine had produced 1,589,700 tons of ore in 1925; roughly 4,350 tons per day.
A large portion of the special Jubilee Edition was the article “Homestake Mines, Methods and Interest,” which was the story of the Homestake Mine from discovery as told by the Superintendent, B.C. Yates.
Yates had previously worked for the Burlington Railroad and in a surveying partnership with Frank Peck before joining the survey crew at the Homestake Mine in 1897 and ultimately taking over as superintendent in 1918. By the mid-1920s he was a well-respected leader in the community and an integral part of the Jubilee celebration.
The festivities kicked off with a large scale parade on August 6th, which featured many floats and participants.
Throughout the mining camp, visitors were able to appreciate the various mining processes through exhibitions of placer mining, quartz mining, and stamp milling.
On August 7th, a major historical pageant occurred with over four hundred participants.
Thousands of visitors, volunteers, and participants participated in the Golden Jubilee, which was claimed by some to be the largest and most extravagant event in the mine’s history. It set an impressive precedent for future celebrations to live up to.
Listen to an SDPB Radio "In The Moment" interview with, Jessica Michak, Archivist, Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center.
Learn more at www.deadwoodhistory.com