Passionate individuals preserve almost century old gold mill

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Since the Gold Rush in the late 1800s, gold mining has been a big part of the Black Hills' history.
Thanks to the work done by the Black Hills Historic Preservation Trust and members of the Forest Service, one gold mill remains on Black Hills National Forest land.

The Gold Mountain Mine near Hill City is one of a few standing gold mills left in South Dakota.
In 2007 the Forest Service planned to close the site and demolish the mill, but thanks to some passionate individuals in 2010, plans started to restore and preserve the almost century–old structure.
Tuesday staff from the Black Hills National Forest and Black Hills Historic Preservation Trust opened the trailhead and honored the people who played a key role in preserving the gold mill.

Mike Hilton says, "It also gives us an opportunity just to come out and to really learn about some of the mining history of the Black Hills and how that got started, some of the early mining and particularly hard rock mining in this case, and it gives folks an opportunity to just have some hands–on experience with the mining industry in the Black Hills and the history."

According to the Forest Service, the mill was built before 1930 and was abandoned during the 1940s during World War Two.

President of the Black Hills Historic Preservation Trust Skip Tillisch says, "There's lots of places in the Hills that need to be preserved that are worth saving because of their unique structures like this being one of a kind in the Black Hills where people can get to it. They should be saved."

And Tillisch is especially passionate about the Gold Mountain Mine project because of the tremendous amount of work he and others invested in the project.

Skip Tillisch says, "I get shook up when I talk about it. I put a lot of time in it and have met a lot of incredible people and worked with some fantastic people to get this done, and seeing this project completed is amazing and more than we ever thought it would be when we first started talking about it and thinking about it and seeing it come to fruition with the trail and everything is amazing."

Tillisch says if the mill wasn't restored and was allowed to crumble an important piece of history would be lost.

Skip Tillisch says, "When it's gone, it's gone forever and when you destroy it you can look at a picture in a book because it exists, you can read the story, but I think it's very meaningful when people can stand and see how massive these structures are."