The Black Hills, formed millions of years ago by tectonic activity deep within the earth, turned out to be very rich sources of precious metals. In 1874, Custer wrote home that he had found gold in French Creek on a mapping expedition and the area was never the same. Thousands flocked to the Black Hills in hopes of becoming rich overnight; understandably, few ever came away with much. Towns sprung up overnight and fortunes followed the gold. The town of Custer, for example had a population of 10,000 in 1875, but when larger and more profitable gold strikes were announced in the northern Black Hills, Custer's population shrank to 14 almost overnight.
Sixteen miles from Custer, another settlement, Spokane, formed around the Spokane Mine in 1890. While miners hoped for gold, other metals and minerals were found and extracted but the mine played out in the 1930's and the settlement was all but abandoned by 1940. However, the some of the buildings are still standing.
Last week, I found Spokane and its abandoned buildings, and spent the good part of a day there. I was surprised that the town didn't have a sad or melancholy feel to it. Rather, the sense was that here was a town that had done its work, and, once completed, was being allowed to return to the earth. I sepia-toned the photographs because I thought it was appropriate for the subject.
This, I am told, was the mine manager's house. It had an upstairs and a basement.
Other buildings and sights from Spokane...
All the best,