Gold prospecting in the Black Hills area of South Datoka had some very early starts. History shows that in 1887 writings were found on a slab of rock with a carved message from a prospector named Ezra Kind stating that there had been raid on his small prospecting party in 1833. The message stated that he and his men were attacked by a band of Indians and that his men and horses were packing all the gold they could carry. That's a lot of gold!! But this story in not so much about the gold. As you will see by the ed of the story, it's about the "Fools Gold."
Mining and prospecting never really took off in this area until the time of Custer and that was around the years of 1874. During that time there was government deals with treaties and after that the area became opened for more prospecting and settling. In fact during this time it was Custer and some of his men that actually found gold in the French Creek area which is close to modern day Custer.
Like all mining booms back then word travelled fast and it wasn't long before the Black Hills area was crawling with prospectors and miners. Small tent towns sprung up and merchants, saloons and brothels followed. By 1877 work had changed from prospecting to actual mining as some deposits were found and it was during these years that the Broken Boot mine was discovered
It was in 1876 that two prospectors, James Nelson and his partner Olaf Seimcame across a small deposit of gold. They worked this small deposit trying to get the most out of it they could. After 26 years of working the mine the two men had aquired a total of about 15,000 ounces. It was hardly a living wage back then but the two partners were also mining something else. Fools gold!. That's right! Their mine was full of iron pyrite and they were mining it along with the real gold. YOu see back then iron pyrite was very useful as a component to be used in the refining and smelting of gold. Iron pyrite was used to make sulfuric acid and this acid is what was used to refine gold to it's purest. When it was all said and done, the two miners made more from fools gold then they did real gold.
However as time went on there wasn't enough money in fools gold and so in 1904 the mine shut down. The mine sat idle until 1917 when it reopened because of WW1 and the need for iron and sulfur to make gun powder. But in the year or so after, the mine closed altogether.
Then in the mid 1950's a group of local business men decided to buy the mine and turn it into a tourist attraction. The only living heirs of the mine decided to lease the mine out and while there was renovations going on, some workers stumbled across an old worn out boot in a tunnel. This prompted the owners and the heirs to rename the mine, Broken Boot.
The Broken Boot Mine has been giving tours to visitors since 1954 and has become a land mark stop for visitors travelling to and through North Dakota.