Lead was originally founded as a company town by the Homestake Mining Company and is the site of the Homestake Mine, the largest, deepest and most productive gold mine in the Western Hemisphere before it closed in January 2002.
By 1910, Lead had a population of 8,382, making it the second largest town in South Dakota. In 1974, most of Lead was added to the National Register of Historic Places under the name of the “Lead Historic District”.
Lead and the Homestake Mine have been selected as the site of the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, also called the Sanford Lab, a proposed NSF facility for low-background experiments on neutrinos, dark matter, and other nuclear physics topics, as well as biology and mine engineering studies.
Lead is located at 44°21′3″N 103°45′57″W (44.350967, -103.765784). Lead has been assigned the ZIP code 57754. The population was 3,124 at the 2010 census.
Two prominent man-made features of Lead’s geography are the giant open cut, which was used for surface gold mining by the Homestake Mine, and the resulting ridge nearby built with the non-producing material from the cut.
During the winter there are two ski areas just a few miles outside of Lead. Terry Peak and Deer Mountain are both full service ski areas.