The town of Spokane, South Dakota was born out of the fever of extracting lead, zinc, gold, and other metals from the Earth. However, it would go on to suffer the same fate as hundreds of other similar mining towns and is now abandoned.
Founded in 1890, the town was named for a silver mine in (the more famous) Spokane, Washington. The remnants of the town are situated in the Black Hills area of Custer County, 16 miles east of Custer. A functioning mine until the early 1940s, Spokane’s profits fluctuated from year to year. According to surviving accounts, one of the best years for the town was 1927 when it shipped $114,742 worth of metals in today’s dollars. The money allowed for a schoolhouse to be built and attracted plenty of miners to keep the place running.
With the stores of metal (and thus profits) drying up, the mine was closed in 1940. Several companies tried to turn a profit from it during the 1950s, including one that used it as an illegal dump site, but none of them had much luck. It is unclear when, but the mine’s buildings burned down, while others which were deemed unsafe were destroyed by the U.S. Forest Service. A watchman stayed in the town until the mid-1980s, when it was officially abandoned.
Little has survived to this day, but explorers can still find the watchman’s house, intact enough to walk through the first floor of, and the schoolhouse, which it is on its last legs. In addition to those buildings, there are some rusting cars, a root cellar complete with empty wooden shelves, and some foundations.
Know Before You Go
There are no signs for Spokane. It sits to the east of US-16, between North and South Playhouse Rd.