September 17, 2007 – The Black Hills and the Geographical Center of the 50 United States

Today was sightseeing day.

Our first stop was in Lead (pronounced leed) to see the Homestake Gold Mine. This started as an open pit mine and then went under ground. It was in operation from 1876 to 1998. Here is a picture of the open pit – it is ~1000’ deep and ½ mile wide. The underground shafts and tunnels go down 9000'. Here is a picture of the open pit:

The museum and video about the mine and the town was quite interesting.

From there we went through Spearfish Canyon – a scenic byway. Some pictures:

The fall is here. Fall is one of my favorite seasons with all of its colors. (So hopefully we will be able to follow it across the country and be in PA when all the leaves are peaking in color.

As we left the canyon, we headed towards the geographical center of the 50 states. It was amazing that in the space of 30 miles, we left the hills/canyons and were on the high plains. We saw many more antelope. How about this guy:

We got directions for the center from the visitor information bureau a few days ago. So we traveled 13 miles north of Belle Fourche then turned onto a gravel road for 7.8 miles.

And this is the first thing we saw:

Then we saw this:

Only it was in a field surrounded by barbed wire. As we looked around, we found an area of barbed wire that was open and a path to the center. So off we went.

Here I am at the center:

Here is the plate:

Here is the area surrounding the center:

Here is the road:

Just a little background: This is the center of the 50 states not to be confused with the center of the 48 states (near Lebanon, Kansas) nor the center of North America (near Rugby, North Dakota). It gets a little confusing on how it is determined but if you are interested in the methods, the internet has lots of information.

And back at camp another wonderful campfire!!!

Just as the sun was going down, we started to hear howling just like last night. We are not sure if it is dogs, coyotes, or wolves – I do not know what is native to the Black Hills. It is really eerie since it is so quiet here and the sound just carries… (Maybe I can find out more tomorrow.)

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