Moses and Fred Manuel discovered the Homestake Ledge on April 9, 1876; sank a shaft in the side of a draw; built a crude mill and took out $5,000 worth of gold that spring. The city of Lead was named for that outcropping of ore, referred to as a lead and pronounced “leed.”
George Hearst sent L.D. Kellogg, an experienced practical miner, to investigate promising reports of new Black Hills gold discoveries in June of 1877. Following a brief investigation, he optioned the Homestake and Golden Star claims for $70,000 less a strip of land 10-feet wide originally deeded by the owners to H.B. Young. This parcel of land was subsequently acquired.
Kellogg then reported to George Hearst in California; they immediately took up these claims, purchased others in addition, and promptly undertook their development—about 10 acres total.
George Hearst and his partners incorporated their holdings as The Homestake Mining Company in California on November 5, 1877.
Homestake Mining Company was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange on January 25, 1879.
Homestake pioneered the use of steam locomotives and railway equipment in the Black Hills in 1879 – although mule-drawn ore cars on rails had been used the year before.
George and his wife Phoebe were the parents of one son, William Randolph Hearst, who, rather than continue in his father’s footsteps in the mining businesses, chose to manage his father’s newspaper, The San Francisco Examiner. William became a publishing magnate and pioneer in the radio and television industries.
Phoebe Hearst made substantial contributions to the educational and cultural life of Lead. She was responsible for the establishment of the first kindergarten in the entire West at Lead, and for the construction of the Homestake Opera House and Recreation Building as gifts to the community.
During World War II, gold mining operations were suspended by order of the War Production Board with the foundry retooled to producing war materials including airplane parts, wrenches and hand grenades.
On December 14, 2001, the Homestake Gold Mine shut down after more than 125 years of continuous operation. That same day the Homestake Mining Company was merged into Barrick Gold Corporation.
At the time of its closing the Homestake Gold Mine was the oldest, largest and deepest mine in the Western Hemisphere, reaching more than 8000 feet below the town of Lead and encompassing approximately eight thousand acres of patented Company-owned mineral claims.
The Homestake produced 40 MILLION ounces of gold from 1876 to 2001.