Big Bike Solo in the Black Hills

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, May 18, 2009.

  1. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

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    :lol3

    Right. Cannontrek III was a big ol' goatscrew!
  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Took a ride up the gravel road to the top of Terry Peak.
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    This probably isn't very fair to the hearing impaired . . . or to gang members.
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    A v e n t u r e
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    Obviously the snow gets very deep up here. They need to keep it open for access to the transmitters on top.
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    Steps to an observation tower on top.
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    Looking down toward Lead and Deadwood. The two Homestake Mine shaft houses are visible. Bear Butte (near Sturgis) in the background.
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    Bear Butte. Bear Butte is a laccolith where magma got forced up between some horizontal rock layers forming a dome. Eventually the rest of the stuff eroded away leaving the dome of igneous rock.
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    This young girl from Texas had never seen snow before and came up here to experience it for the first time. She was having a ball. Being from Wisconsin, I didn't really understand what all the fuss was about and I wasn't nearly as elated as she was.
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    When you come back down the mountain, head west down toward Cheyenne Crossing and grab some gas and those excellent Indian Tacos Jud was talking about. On your way there, you will pass through Icebox Canyon. Before the highway was here, there was a wagon road that passed along a creek in the cover of some trees deep in the narrow canyon. This kept the air chilled a bit. The freighters named the spot.
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  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Made a visit to the site of a train robbery.
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    This is the site of what used to be Englewood. Englewood was a rail junction that also had a generating plant to power pumps to get Homestake mine water over the divide from Hanna. The railroad came through here in 1891. This place used to have a section house, round house, depot, engine house, water tank, school house, dance hall, post office/store, saloon, and boarding house. Not much left today.
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    One of the old rail grades is now the fabulous George Mickelson trail. A good tip is to stop at these trail heads. They usually have some kind of excellent local interpretive information.
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    George Mickelson bicycle trail.
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    I went looking for the site of a train robbery near the old town site of Woodville. Woodville was a wood cutting camp. Here is some old trestle works.
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    The old grade (dark red on the map) is signed as a road.
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    Some outlaws would try to rob the train from time to time.
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    On 12 Sep 1888, there was a payroll train robbery along this grade that went awry. Homestake was transporting $12,000 to pay workers at the timber cutting camp in Brownsville. The money was stashed in an old valice that was stuffed into the tool box of the engine's tender. The train stopped along here to drop off a track crew and then started on toward Brownsville again. As the train approached a curve on a drop off, the engineer saw that the rails had been spread. Since he had just dropped off a track crew he was still going slow enough to stop before he derailed. The robbers intended to put the whole works over the side as wrecked trains and dead men were easiest to rob. Once the train stopped, the robbers sprang their ambush. There was a big shoot out with bullets ricocheting around the train cab. A couple of the robbers were wounded and captured. The engineer whistled for help from Woodville. Eventually they delivered the payroll to Brownsville.

    It was pretty neat riding along this spot imagining how all this went down.
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    I had to go around. The trip around (green track) is a nice ride.
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    I tried tracking onto the grade from the other direction. I was pleased to see this puddle on the gravel road.
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    The quick rinse gave me the chance to un-unbalance my wheels.
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    There was a muddy spot where some power lines crossed the grade. Best for this to thaw out and dry out before anyone rides it.
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  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Heading the back way down toward Lead and Deadwood.
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    The mine has two principal hoist shafts - Ross and Yates. This mine was the largest and deepest gold mine in North America and produced over $1B in gold. The mine is a little over 8,000 feet deep. These hoist shafts run men and materiel up and down in the mine. There are also some underground hoists. The hoists can haul 60,000 lbs at express speeds. Hoists haul material out of the mine and also haul waste material as fill back into the mine.
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    This is a shaft that enters the mine at some level from the side.
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    When this baby was operating they exchanged 1,060,000 cubic feet of air a minute in the mine. For every one ton of ore, there were 11 tons of air exchanged. The heat rejected by this mine could heat 350 Deadwood homes each winter day. Rocks just below the surface are around 44 degrees. I saw a picture of some guys that were in the mine a week or so ago at around 4,000 feet down that were in T-shirts saying it was about 70 degrees. At 8,000 feet the rocks are 133 degrees. 60T spot air conditioners (that could cool 30 homes) were brought in to work areas to improve the environment. Obviously with all the water involved, this was humid air. These are some blades from one of the older exhaust fans.
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    This old exhaust fan is still pumping out humid air. Obviously there are/were others to achieve the desired volume of air exchange. They are dewatering the mine down to around 4,300' so they can put in an underground laboratory. Deadwood got gambling and now has more jobs than residents. Lead didn't do so well and they are trying in some ways to revitalize getting this lab.
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    Rock at 8,000 feet is pretty hard and sometimes just bursts from the pressure. I read a book that briefly covered some of the techniques used in mining and safety at the Homestake and it was fascinating. I wonder how much timber from the Hills is buried in this mine.
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    The underground lab will deal with rare physics processes that can be affected by cosmic radiation. Putting this stuff underground gets the job done. Canada has something like this is place. Experiments were done here years ago as well.
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    Dewatering this mine is a big deal. The water must be treated. Nothing new for these guys though since Lead and Central City have been getting their potable water supply from the mine for years.
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  5. Bimble

    Bimble In giro in moto

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    Wow, Bryan. What a narrative. I've greatly enjoyed the history. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the work.

    :bow

    :thumb

    P.S. your pics bring back the smell of the pines, too.
  6. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer Supporter

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  7. knybanjo

    knybanjo kinda slow

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    I grew up just a few miles from there.....I do believe that I've experienced a few of those cosmic rays.:loaded
  8. TheBlade

    TheBlade Adventurer

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    Hey Cannonshot,
    This Trip Report is absolutely amazing. You have done such a nice job and have really put some effort into this. You took some of your pictures just 2 blocks from my house (Chapel in the Hills and the deer crossing the road near Canyon Lake). Next time you come out here, I want to ride with you if you'll have me. I will post this thread for folks attending or interested in attending the 2009 North American V-Strom Gathering in the Black Hills June 25-29 (5 weeks away).
    Awesome!
    TheBlade
  9. Powershouse

    Powershouse Flower Sniffer Supporter

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    I was at a talk recently where they were talking about research being done at the Tower-Soudan mine to explore the potential for life on Mars. Seems they are finding a surprising array of indigenous organisms deep in the mine.

    Back in the day I was down to the 7500 level in the Homestake mine; think jungle environment - hot and humid. Oh, and dark, very dark.
  10. El Guero

    El Guero Long timer

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    Thanks for this report! I've been riding in the Hills three times now, and I really feel like I've only scratched the surface for sure! I had had plans to go on a big trip this summer but had to nix it, but reading this has me really excited for my trip to the Black Hills with regal403 later this summer!
  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Thanks. Hope it brings back nice memories and also inspires some people to visit or visit again. There is so much to explore and enjoy people could keep coming back over and over.

    It really is a lot of work to do this and thanks for appreciating it. (The riding and exploring was the fun part!) But, it should all be worth it if it serves as a reference and enables a bunch of others to better enjoy the Hills. I've certainly benefitted from things I've read here so things like this are a chance to contribute myself.
  12. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Thanks. It appears this turned out to be timely with regard to the V-Strom convention. Hope this gives some ideas to your gang that helps them make the most of their time in the area.

    Didn't realize I was so close when I was in Rapid. Would have been fun to meet up or share part of the ride while I was out there. Next time perhaps.
  13. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Maybe you guys can check out some of the stuff I got snowed out of. :D
  14. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    And what is with you other guys zooming in on neutrinos and maybe some other theoretical particles? I was downplaying the lab thing and concentrating more on the shoot-outs, train robberies, and action stuff. :lol3

    We certainly have a diverse array of interests around here. :D
  15. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Lead is the Homestake Mine hometown. Lead is pronounced "Leed" so lets get that out of the way up front. It is named after the Homestake Ledge (or Lead). A ledge or outcrop of ore is a lead.
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    This air locomotive was used in the mines. It weighs about 27,000 pounds and held about 137 cubic feet of air at a thousand pounds pressure.
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    These things replaced animals in the early 1900s.
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    I wondered how long that engine would run on a tank of air. Then I realized that there were hundreds of miles of air line running throughout the mine. Most things in the mine ran on compressed air. There were two compressor plants that produced 25,000 cubic feet of compressed air a minute. The air was cooled and sent down into the mines.
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    A simplified depiction of the mine. Much more complicated for sure.
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    Besides the hundreds of mile of underground shafts and ramps, there was a big open pit mine was well.
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    There is a visitor's center at the pit with some interesting information.
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    This is a shot of an old stamp mill. This one was in Terraville. Terraville had less level ground than any other community in the Hills. Townspeople did their shopping in Lead. To get there, they used to walk through underground mine workings that the Homestake kept shored up and lit for their convenience. As I mentioned, stamp mills crushed ore into a sand like substance so it could be further processed. Some of this processing involved chemicals to dissolve the desired metals. OSHA and EPA nightmare perhaps. One process in Carbonate killed vegetation and all the cats in town.
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    Terraville is gone with the development of the big pit. I did see this deer deep in town doing some lawn grazing when I was near the old Terraville site.
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    This old nicely preserved engine house is now a restaurant. Nice building.
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  16. plumber mike

    plumber mike Highdive Deepened

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    Great writeup and pics.Next time you come down my road(Yellow Creek Rd.)stop and get me so we can do some riding:D I couldn't help but notice since the picture of the tree coming out of the rock at the corner of Kirk and Yellow Creek and the "stairs to nowhere" are part of my morning commute.
  17. El Guero

    El Guero Long timer

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    Maybe... We'll see if I get a GPS by then :lol3
  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Central City is a town of less than 200 now. They started placer mining here in 1875. Placer (pronounced "plasser") mining is sifting the gold out of the naturally formed gravel by sluicing and panning. This is different than the hard rock mining we have been talking about.
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    By 1877 the town had mushroomed into a spread out community of 10,000 people. At the time Central City had 16 mills, a church, newspaper, a post office, telegraph office, brewery, and the second school in the Hills. The first brick building in the Hills was built here.
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    This was also a violent town. Two mine owners quarreled here. The Aurora and Comstock mines were close to each other. Eventually the Comstock tunneled into some Aurora ore. The Aurora guy ordered them out while threatening the blow up the place. He did. The blast caved in a bunch of stuff that also defeaned one miner. Coming to the surface afterward, the Aurora guy was killed when he was caught in a cross-fire between Comstock and Aurora miners.
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    The Comstock Mine was also the site of an early sit-down strike where the miners holed up in the mine and refused to leave until they got their pay. The mine owners sent for the Army. The Army came and they even brought two cannons with them. In the end a smart Sheriff (Seth Bullock I believe) avoided violence by dropping something similar to burning sulfur down an airshaft smoking the boys out.
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    In 1883 Central City got smoked by a devastating flood. In 1885, Larry Belleville had a restaurant in town. He left for a bit to run an errand and when he came back the place was engulfed in flames. It burned down much of the town. Larry immediately split and was never seen again.
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  19. plumber mike

    plumber mike Highdive Deepened

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    You do a better job explaining the area and the history than the chamber of commerce does:rofl Great thread.Glad I found it.
  20. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Thanks Mike. Some of this stuff was hard to dig out. :D