Did Jerry Hardy drift into the town of Pactola clutching a leather bag full of rich gold ore?

The story goes that by the time Jerry Hardy drifted into the town of Pactola, situated on Rapid Creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota, it had long been know as a gold camp. Placer gold was first washed from the stream bed in July 1875, even before it was legal for white prospectors to be in the region.

Hardy, a prospector from Wyoming, was lured into the Black Hills by the fresh placer finds. He was a loner, so rather than live in town he built a small stone cabin in the canyon.

One day in May 1877, Hardy rode excitedly into town clutching a leather bag full of rich ore. However, it wasn’t gold, but high-grade silver. A silver rush quickly gripped Pactola, with nearly every miner taking off into the hills searching for the fabulous silver mine.

Through it all, Hardy kept the location of his mine a secret. For three months he showed up in town every Wednesday with freshly dug ore, buying provisions and tools. Then two weeks passed without a single sing of the lucky prospector. A group of concerned miners rode to the cabin to see if anything was wrong. They found Hardy inside, shot three times in the head. The killer or killers were never found and no more silver was ever brought into Pactola.

Is there somewhere within the Pactola watershed, a rich lost lode of Black Hills silver?

This is not the location of the find, but is as good a place as any to stop your ride to ponder the Pactola bag of ore treasurer.

DECIMAL DEGREES: 44.0990084, -103.554062

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