Digging a hole in the ground? Call South Dakota 811 first!

South Dakota is famous for Mt. Rushmore, with its massive stone faces of Presidents Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt.  Movie makers and writers have also been drawn to what’s possibly behind and below the faces, including secret spy headquarters and other such things.  The National Park Service frowns on any digging or excavating at the site to hunt for some super-criminal’s home base.

Actually, few people know there IS actually something behind Mt. Rushmore – more specifically, behind Lincoln’s head.  For that story, go here:  https://www.nps.gov/moru/learn/historyculture/hall-of-records.htm

While America celebrates Mt. Rushmore above the ground, South Dakota is also home to a very big hole in the ground:  the Homestake mine, established in 1876.

Here’s a picture of it today:

No one needed to call 811 back then, there weren’t any buried utilities, and in fact, Alexander Graham Bell had just invented the telephone.  Workplace safety was unknown as miners toiled to bring gold up out of the ground.

Today that hole in the ground is 1,250 feet deep and a mile across.  A further mine shaft reaches down 8,000 feet.   Wouldn’t that be an underground utility locator’s nightmare?

It finally closed at the end of 2001 after producing over 1,300 tons of gold.  At its closure it was the largest and deepest gold mine in North America.

In 2011, the Department of Energy agreed to fund ongoing research at the Sanford Lab, with the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority operating the lab at the site of the old mine. The deepest underground laboratory in the United States, it houses multiple physics experiments in areas such as dark matter and neutrino research.   Talk about damage prevention!

You probably don’t have any projects quite this large, but even if digging a small project, it’s best, and the law, to call 811 before digging.

Having underground utilities properly marked/flagged before excavation cuts the risk of an accidental strike down to about one percent.

Make the call to South Dakota 811.  Know what’s below BEFORE you dig.

And while the secret room behind Lincoln’s head is pretty cool – the best look at Rushmore is from behind.

Until next week, safe digging!

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