Syd Devries

Syd DeVries, senior principal engineer for the Fermilab-managed Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility at Sanford Lab, stands in front of a model of the Ross Hoist.

The epilogue of Steven T. Mitchell’s Nuggets to Neutrinos reads, “As another chapter of the Homestake story is closed, a new chapter is opened. [The facility] is again open, but this time for science… From nuggets to neutrinos, the Homestake story and legacy continue to unfold.”

The facility’s transition from a gold mine to an underground science facility is a history unto itself. Countless aspects of the property have been refurbished for new uses. Sanford Underground Research Facility’s (Sanford Lab) next Deep Talks event will highlight a key part of this facility’s transformation: the hoists.

At “Deep Talks: Celebrating 80, 85 years of the hoists,” Syd DeVries will explore the history and future of the Yates and Ross shafts, which turn 80 and 85, respectively, this year. DeVries is the senior principal engineer for building and site infrastructure working on the Fermilab-managed Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility at Sanford Lab. Deep Talks begins at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, at the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center in Lead, S.D.

“This talk will focus on the history of the Yates and Ross Shafts, their use during the mining period and their transition into current and future use for Sanford Lab,” said DeVries. A model of the Ross Shaft, made by Dan James and Jim Hanhardt, will help attendees visualize the shaft infrastructure — before and after the refurbishment project.

Earlier in his career, DeVries worked for a mining contracting company, managing mining-related construction and design projects in Canada.

“If you're working for a mining contractor, you're typically doing work that falls outside normal mining operations, such as putting in a new shaft or crusher,” said DeVries. “We usually worked on unique, one-time projects.”

Such “unique” projects are the norm at Sanford Lab, where each project requires a combination of novel and tested engineering solutions.

“Working for a mining contractor exposed me to all kinds of projects; that background provided the experience I would bring with me for the work happening here,” said DeVries.

DeVries led an original feasibility study at the facility, examining the possibility of converting the property into an underground science laboratory. Now, DeVries gets to see the Ross Shaft Rehabilitation project through to completion.

"I still have memories of when we were just dreaming this project up. To actually have been through it — from start to finish — is pretty satisfying. When you put lots of time and effort into a project, you take a lot of ownership for it,” said DeVries.

Deep Talks is held at the Visitor Center, 160 W. Main Street, in Lead. The event begins at 5 p.m. with a social hour that includes free beer (must be 21 and older to drink) and light snacks. Deep Talks is sponsored by Crow Peak Brewing Company of Spearfish.

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