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Preservation Thursday: Spearfish Electric Light and Power Company: Pioneering Hydroelectric Power in the Black Hills

DEADWOOD – Deadwood History, Inc. and the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission will host a lecture by local historian, Larry Miller, at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, 2017, at the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC), 150 Sherman Street, Deadwood. The event is wheelchair accessible. Please feel free to bring your lunch.

A full decade before the legendary Homestake Mining Company built its first hydroelectric plant at the mouth of Spearfish Canyon in 1904, earlier entrepreneurs had put together the funding to build the Spearfish Electric Light and Power Company. It began operation in 1894, providing Spearfish and its residents with electric service until the plant was destroyed by the massive Black Hills flood of 1904. The story of Spearfish Electric Light and Power includes a series of false starts as visionaries struggled to find reliable investors for the project. There were continuing and very public squabbles between Spearfish city leaders and Homestake as the company initiated its own plans for harnessing the forces of Spearfish Creek to electrify its mining operations. Spearfish Electric Light and Power was a harbinger of significant change as the Black Hills entered the 20th Century.

Larry Miller is a native of Chadron, Nebraska. He has a B.A. in History from Chadron State College and an M.S. in Journalism from Iowa State University. After working as a reporter, producer, and news director at several radio and television stations, he went into management. He was general manager of public broadcasting stations in Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania during his 45-year career in commercial and public broadcasting. He retired in 2004.

Miller also served 24 years of combined active and reserve duty with the U.S. Navy. His assignments ranged from the aircraft carriers USS Saratoga and USS Franklin D. Roosevelt to duty with the Navy Chief of Information in Washington, D.C. and teaching workshops at the Naval Academy. He retired in 1994. Miller and his wife, Karen, live in Spearfish.

Preservation Thursday is co-sponsored by the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, Deadwood History, Adams-Mastrovich Family Foundation, Saloon No. 10, Fresh Paint, Homestake Mining Company, tdg, Historic Homestake Opera House, and Celebrity Hotel.


We inspire the global community by preserving and celebrating the cultural heritage of Deadwood and the Black Hills in the context of the American West through exceptional exhibits, innovative educational programs, and access to extensive collections in unique settings.

Adams Museum, Days of ‘76 Museum, Historic Adams House, and
Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC).

This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.