The Homestake Slime Plant in Deadwood, South Dakota might not sound like the kind of place nearby which you’d like to lay your head for a few nights. Indeed, back when the gold processing site was erected in 1906 and up until it was decommissioned in the 1970s, it would have been an unwise proposition.
But about a decade ago the massive plant was reborn in a salubrious way as the 3,000-capacity event and concert space for the Deadwood Mountain Grand hotel and casino, which in August just completed a major renovation. The old plant’s massive Douglas fir beams shipped all the way by rail from Washington state way back at the beginning of the 20th century are still there. So too is the corrugated galvanized steel façade that was added in the 1950s, and which, now revitalized, looks even more like the sort of industrial chic style that a Brooklyn hotel might copy.
A Holiday Inn Resort, the Deadwood Mountain Grand doesn’t follow your typical hotel layout as it rises up the hill behind the original processing plant. Guests reach the hotel lobby and their room via a walk through the upper level of the old plant that now holds the casino, followed by two elevator rides and some twists and turns.
With 98 rooms, among which five suites have fireplaces, the property gives off an aesthetic vibe of old-industrial meets modern rustic, with metal, marble and stone touches, along with lots of leather, suede, velvet, and sherpa fabric thrown in the mix.
Deadwood owes its existence, of course, to the mid-1870s gold rush that overwhelmed these Black Hills and which the federal government failed to suppress in its treaties with the Lakota land owners. In short time, independent prospectors using pans and sluices were turned into wage miners using explosives in industrial tunnels.
With historic nods in their new design for the Deadwood Mountain Grand, Minnesota-based Ste Marie Design has paid homage to the rough and tumble old mining days. Throughout, plenty of archival photos have artful splashes of color added to them, but which don’t disguise the anonymous miners seen riding carts in spooky shafts and whose dirty and joyless faces make you thankful for the epoch you were born in. In more genteel history, wallpaper in the bathrooms is made up of a blown-up letter handwritten to Deadwood’s early influential business leader and six-time mayor W.E. Adams.
In its supremely dangerous environment, the Homestake Slime Plant used press filters and mercury and cyanide to extract gold from crushed muddy ore that flowed down the terraced plant structure. Back then, you certainly wouldn’t have wanted to get near Whitewood creek that flows in front.
Today, Dale’s restaurant down by the casino with its two hundred-plus slots and
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