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Discover 150 Years of Black Hills Gold in Rapid City

by Eugenia Lazaris

Apr 2, 2024

© Jeremy Campbell | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / North America

One hundred and fifty years ago, the spotlight landed on South Dakota when gold was discovered in the Black Hills. Today, families visiting Rapid City have the chance to learn all about that history while exploring one of the country’s most beautiful destinations.

After the 1874 Custer expedition led to the discovery of gold in the hills surrounding Rapid City (hills now home to the iconic Mount Rushmore and the work-in-progress known as the Crazy Horse Memorial), the production of a unique type of gold jewelry became synonymous with the region.

Henri LeBeau, a French goldsmith, was the first to craft a specific type of gold jewelry using the materials mined from the local mountains. Known as Black Hills gold jewelry, it features three types of gold (red, pink and green) adorned with motifs like leaves, vines and grape clusters.

Thanks to a federal mandate enacted in 1981, only jewelry made in the Black Hills can be called Black Hills gold jewelry, making Rapid City the perfect place to go if you want to learn more about this fascinating bit of American history.

There are plenty of ways for the family to learn more about this history during a trip to Rapid City, starting with Journey Museum and Learning Center, where you can learn all about the history of the region throughout the eons, along with how the Gold Rush impacted and changed the Black Hills and the Indigenous peoples who call it home.

Families will also enjoy visiting Black Hills Caverns, where a tour of the caves will give incredible insight into the local mining industry and what goes into extracting gold and gemstones from the landscape.

At Mt. Rushmore Black Hills Gold Factory, located in Rapid City, families not only get to shop for their own pieces of Black Hills Gold Jewelry, but they can also take a free tour of the factory to find out exactly how this beautiful jewelry is made and what makes it stand out from other types of gold.

Not only will your visit to Rapid City introduce you to what has been an iconic symbol of the area for 150 years, but it will also give you a chance to discover one of the most beautiful destinations in the country.



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