Friday, April 7, 2017

Two Bit, South Dakota

Two Bit, South Dakota doesn’t sound like a kind of place that would attract much in terms of people or prosperity, but that it did. It was named for a gulch that produced two bits — 25 cents — in gold with every pan in 1877. Prospectors found a good quantity of placer gold. Nestled in a gulch about two miles east of Deadwood, the placer gold was soon exhausted.

Main Street, Deadwood, South Dakota, 1876
Miners were forced to start digging into the hillsides and going further afield in the hunt for the elusive gold.

Anderson Hardin drove a tunnel 330 feet into the mountains. Then a decline tunnel was driven that followed a shoot of low-grade gold ore. At the end of the tunnel, a winze — a vertical or declined tunnel between two levels — was sunk on this vein. Then another tunnel was dug which encountered ore. Assays returned from $50.00 to $300.00 per ton.

The Bodega Saloon, Deadwood. Built in 1879.
A new shaft was sunk and by 1892 was 35 feet deep. Ore was found that showed flecks of free gold that did not need any kind of processing. Around this time Jim Hardin ascertained that promotion and raising money was a far better way of making a living than digging in the ground. He proved to be brilliant in that field and quickly became a millionaire.

Hardin formed other mining companies including the Consolidated Hardin Mines Ltd; The Two Bit and Chicago Mining Co.; Great Northern Mining Co., Hardin Mining & Manufacturing Co. and the Great Eastern Mining Company. The elusive dream of gold by the investors was considered the sure thing of a check in the bank for Hardin. Hardin’s paper empire began to crumble in the early 1900s. His Hardin Standard mine had run out of ore. His other mines, all shallow shafts, were eventually found lacking in payable amounts of gold ore.