aka Lewis and Clark
aka Tenmile
aka Vaughn
aka Colorado
aka Bear Gulch

Three miles west of Last Chance Gulch is the Tenmile, where the Broadwater and the great Natatorium are built in the golden sands, which extend along the bed of the creek for more than twenty miles up into the main range, where Red Mountain rears his imperial head, crowned with veins of precious ores, and where the R. L. Lee, the Peerless Jenny, the Eureka, Atlanta and a hundred other mines attracted two railroads and fostered the young city of Rimini (Swallow 1891).

The Rimini district is about 13 miles east of Helena on the east side of the Continental Divide at the terminal point of a branch of the Northern Pacific Railroad. It is on Tenmile Creek with Red Mountain on the east and Lee Mountain on the west. It is probably the oldest lead-zinc camp in Montana; Mineral survey numbers 3, 4, and 5 were located on Red Mountain and survey 13 was located on Lee Mountain.

The Lee Mountain Lode was discovered in 1864 and the Eureka Mine in 1865. However, little mining occurred until 1885 when the Northern Pacific spurline was constructed to the district. During the 1880s a number of mines were developed with the most productive ones being the East Pacific, Lady Washington, John McGraw, Eureka and Porphery Dike. Some of these mines were opened to depths of up to 500 or 600 ft. One of the deepest, the Lee Mountain, has produced more that $1.5 million and the Valley Forge, which is 325 ft deep, has produced more than $200,000. The district shipped 400 tons of ore per week in 1891 with most of the ore being sent to the smelter at Wickes.

The dominant rock in the district is quartz monzonite, which at Red Mountain on the southeast and at and near Lee and Luttrell Mountains on the south is capped by flows of the late Tertiary rhyolite. The ore deposits include lodes of both older and younger groups. The most productive are the older deposits. They occur in about 60 veins about 200 ft apart. The ore bodies are auriferous silver-lead deposits, the chief ore being galena, accompanied by sphalerite, pyrite, and in some lodes arsenopyrite. The younger deposits consist of crushed altered rhyolite, which in places is sufficiently impregnated with fine gold to form large bodies of low-grade gold ore. The principal occurrence is in the southern part of the district at the head of Tenmile Creek at the Porphyry Dike, Pauper's Dream and Carlson mines (Schrader 1929).

The placers in the Upper Tenmile contained large masses of rich tin ore. Numerous gulches that feed into Upper Tenmile each contain several lode mines. Blue Cloud Gulch contains the War Eagle, Golden Eagle, Sucker, Lincoln and Blue Cloud; a ten stamp mill was erected to work the gulch's mines. Nelson Gulch was famous for its rich placers and several quartz mines: Shober, Manassa, Sagamore, Robedeaux and Yellow Boy. On the opposite side of Tenmile from Nelson Gulch is the Old Battle Ground mine. Above this mine in the foothills are the Humbolt, Claggett, Old Dominion, Morning Star, Carrie, and Flora. Colorado Gulch has the King David, Hopewell, Ingersol, Baby, Trustful, and others. Red Mountain has a large number of mines which have seen major development: Legal Tender, Garfield, Gregory, Silver Reef, Saratoga, Emma, Granite Mountain, Iron cap, Iron Dollar, Ontario, Snow Drift, Alcada, Mizpah and others along with three tunnels. Mines are located above Red Mountain, on the mountain east of Rimini and a large number below Rimini such as: Capitol, Yellow Boy, Orphan Boy, Bonanza, Little Bonanza, Sterling, Price, Mac, Enterprise, Knickerbocker, Tin Horn, Morning Star, April Fool, Stonewall Jackson and Washington (Schrader 1929).

The repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893 and the resulting low silver prices drove the miners out of the hills. By 1898 only the Porphyry Dike mine was worked with any success. However, the combination of a railroad spurline to Rimini and the construction of the smelter in East Helena served to revive the district somewhat by 1900. (Calderhead 1898; 1900).

All told, by 1928 the district reportedly produced up to $7,000,000, most of the production occurred before 1900 as only $1,980,000 was produced between 1902 and 1958 (Schrader 1929; McClernan 1983; Wolle 1963).

In 1929 the Montana Lead Company consolidated the Lee Mountain with the Red Mountain Mining Company's holdings. To explore the veins at depth, Montana Lead Co. drove a cross cut tunnel 1000 ft through Red Mountain. This tunnel's portal was on the east bank of Tenmile Creek half a mile south of Rimini. In 1936 the tunnel reached a length of 3,600 ft and tapped many of the districts significant veins at depth (Pardee and Schrader 1933).


The Rimini district was described by Swallow in 1891 as including Blue Cloud Gulch, Nelson Gulch, Colorado Gulch, Red Mountain, Upper Tenmile, the mountains east of Rimini and the mines below Rimini. McClernan (1983) compiled a map from Becroft (1963) and Ruppel (1963); this map includes Red and Lee Mountains and Minnehaha Creek, Beaver Creek east to Chessman Reservoir, and Tenmile Creek. Sahinen (1935) simply refers to the district as Tenmile Creek and its tributaries while Knopf (1913b) defines it as the Upper Tenmile Creek and its headwaters including Rimini, Lee Mountain and Red Mountain. Figure 1 shows the basic district boundaries.



The Armstrong mine was reported to be five adits with a total length of about 1,500 ft. Although this was a producing mine, little is known of its operation. The mine worked a quartz and tourmaline vein and radioactive traces were found on the dump. It was active intermittently between 1940 and 1948 (Pardee and Schrader 1933; Ruppel 1963).


The Beatrice mine was described as a collapsed workings that once consisted of a 400 ft incline shaft, a 450 ft adit and a 600 ft long cross cut. Shipments of gold - silver ore occurred in 1903 (Ruppel 1963).

Bunker Hill

The Bunker Hill mine is on the east side of Tenmile Creek 1.5 mile south of Rimini. It consists of three adits exploring a vein for 1,200 ft horizontally and 600 ft vertically. Although little is known of the early development, the first recorded production occurred from November of 1889 to November of 1890 when the mine was operated by the Red Mountain Mining Co. The mine was reported to have produced 1,272 tons of ore containing 0.22 ounces gold, 30 ounces silver per ton and 11 percent lead. In 1940, 400 tons of ore were shipped and in 1947, 891 tons of ore were shipped (Pardee and Schrader 1933, Becraft 1963).

Emma Group

The Emma Group consisted of six claims. In 1909 a tunnel was driven 450 ft to tap into a vein of ore that had values of lead-silver and copper (Knopf 1913).


The Eureka mine is located about a mile south-southeast of Rimini on the northwest slope of Red Mountain. It was discovered in 1865 and developed with a 495 ft tunnel. Another tunnel higher on the mountain excavated to 172 ft produced high grade ore that was shipped to Newark, New Jersey for processing. Additional development work occurred in 1899 when the lower tunnel was extended to 890 ft., the tunnel ran through an ore body for 465 ft of the distance. After this ore was stoped out, a shaft was sunk to the 400 ft level and a drift run 642 ft eastward.

The mine eventually became part of a group of Red Mountain mines leased by the Montana Lead Mining Company. In 1931 the Eureka vein was tapped at a depth of 1,200 ft by the Montana Lead No. 1 tunnel (Pardee and Schrader 1933).


The Evergreen mine reportedly consisted of several adits with raises between levels. The property produced 3,475 tons of ore. The ore typically valued at .29 ounces gold and 20 ounces silver per ton with 13.4 percent lead, 5.4 percent zinc, 5 percent arsenic and .5 percent copper (Becraft 1963).


Located 4.5 miles south of Rimini on 1.5 miles of Try Again Creek was the Gould placer mine. The nine ft thick gravel deposit rested on bedrock and was ground sluiced. A million cubic yards of material were estimated to be in the deposit, however large boulders hampered operations. In 1915 the Gould deposit had produced 2,007 pounds of black sands which when treated in East Helena yielded 10.225 ounces of gold and 6.5 ounces of silver. Prior to 1925 $85,000 of development produced a reservoir, a pipe line and implements for hydraulic mining.

Lee Mountain

The Lee Mountain mine was discovered in 1864 by John Caplice. Development consisted of about 6,000 ft of underground workings including seven drift tunnels, shafts, and raises. The lowest tunnel, No. 7, is just above Tenmile Creek and about 600 ft below the collar of the upper shaft. The No. 7 was extended in 1880 to 870 ft. In the years prior to 1891 the mine sent 3,000 tons to the smelter returning an average of 0.5 ounces of gold and 11.6 ounces of silver per ton, and 6 percent lead. The poor metal prices of the 1890's made extraction of ore from the mine unprofitable and activity ceased. From 1902 to 1904 the mine produced 18,642 tons of ore valued between $1.5 million and $.75 million. In 1916 the mine was operated by Dr. E. H. Barbour of Helena and in 1917 by the American Smelting and Refining Co. In 1923 the No. 7 tunnel was extended to the end of the claim a distance of 1,020 ft. In 1924 the claim was extended to a distance of 5,000 ft along the vein. In 1929 the Montana Lead Co. obtained control of the property. From 1934 to 1938 the mine produced 598 ounces of gold, 75,657 ounces of silver, 643,464 pounds of lead and 727,916 pounds of zinc (Pardee and Schrader 1933; Knoft 1913; Becroft 1963).


The Lexington mine is located 1.25 miles south of Rimini. In 1888 it was leased by the Red Mountain Mining Company who drove a 400 ft adit with cross cuts without striking a vein. The company then returned to the previously developed upper adits and removed 2,912 tons of ore in 1888 and 1889. The net returns were $58,912 or slightly more than $20 per ton after direct expenses. The mine was closed in November of 1929 (Pardee and Schrader 1933; Becroft 1963).

Pauper's Dream

The Pauper's Dream mine includes a large number of claims that lie across the Jefferson / Lewis and Clark County line. In 1933 the mine consisted of two open pits and between 500 and 600 ft of underground development. The larger pit was about 200 x 80 ft and 30 ft deep. About 8,000 tons of low grade ore from this deposit were worked in the Venus mill returning $12,700 in gold. In 1926 this property along with the Porphyry Dike was involved in a pollution control lawsuit (Pardee and Schrader 1933; Ruppel 1963).

Peerless Jennie

The Peerless Jennie is located four miles south of Rimini near the divide at the head of Tenmile Creek. The mine was one of the most valuable mines in the district, surface ores were extraordinarily rich. According to R. W. Raymond one 50 ton lot of ore averaged 900 ounces of silver per ton and another 200 ton lot averaged 500 ounces of silver per ton. It was most active in 1918 and 1919 when 381 and 624 tons of ore were shipped. The workings consisted of a shaft, a cross cut adit and a large waste dump indicative of extensive underground development. In 1925 and 1926 development work was done by lessees who found $12/ton ore at 130 ft. The mine was worked intermittently until 1942 and the dump was reworked in 1947. All told in the twentieth century the mine produced a mere 1,316 tons of ore but with nearly unbelievable values of 337.78 ounces of gold, 38,438 ounces of silver, 4,552 pounds of copper, and 38,299 pounds of lead (Pardee and Schrader 1933; Knoft 1913; Becroft 1963).

Porphyry Dike

The Porphyry Dike group of mines is located about five miles south of Rimini in an area that extends southward across the divide at the head of Tenmile Creek and into the Basin Creek drainage. The mine, comprised of a group of 82 claims, was one of the leading mines of the district. Developments consisted of two 1,200 ft adits with associated underground workings and an open pit about 150 ft by 300 ft. Through the 1890's the ore from the pit was treated in a 10-stamp mill.

Primarily a gold mine, the ore also had values in silver. As the sole mine in the district to survive the silver crash of 1893, the mine produced 70,000 tons of ore prior to 1900. This ore was worked in a variety of local mills with a return of $2.60 per ton. When the ownership of the mine was consolidated in 1900, a new mill was contemplated, but the 10-stamp mill was not replaced with a 20-stamp mill until 1917. This mill was later replaced by an electrically powered 300-ton ball mill. In addition to the mill, surface development included offices, shops and houses for the 40 workers and their families. In 1926 the mine was closed by a law suit because the fine mill tailings were polluting the Helena water supply.

Production is listed intermittently from 1914 to 1929 with the tailings reworked in 1941. The mine has a recorded total production of 52,163 tons of ore, 4,118.89 ounces of gold and 2,483 ounces of silver (Calderhead 1898, 1900; Pardee and Schrader 1933).

R.E. Lee

One of the earliest lode mines, the R. E. Lee operated for over 20 years. It contained a vast body of silver, lead and gold ore. A smelter was shipped to the site from Helena, but the project was abandoned before the smelter could be erected. Later a concentrator was built.

Red Mountain

The Red Mountain mine was developed out of the Red Mountain Tunnel. The 3,300 ft long tunnel runs through quartz monzonite and cuts through 40 or more veins. The mine links underground with the Free Speech, Alta and Eureka; most of the mine's production is from the Free Speech vein. The recorded production from 1931 to 1948 lists 6,978 tons of ore processed returning 1,148.14 ounces of gold, 110,029 ounces of silver, 28,115 pounds of copper, 425,538 pounds of zinc and over a million pounds of lead (Pardee and Schrader 1933; Becroft 1963).

Valley Forge

The Valley Forge mine is located about half a mile northeast of Rimini. The mine reportedly has two shafts and a cross cut with raises and intermediate levels. The richest ore was said to have come from the 500 ft level. The mine was most active around 1905-06. Prior to 1913 the production of the mine was listed at $200,000. Recorded production continued intermittently until 1948. A total recorded 29,178 short tons of ore were processed which returned 5,243 ounces of gold, 267,529 ounces of silver, 19,315 pounds of copper, 143,220 pounds of zinc and an amazing 4 million pounds of lead (Pardee and Schrader 1933; Knopf 1913).


The Venus mine is located .8 miles south of the Porphyry Dike glory hole. The mine was developed through a 100 x 40 ft open cut 40 ft deep. The mine also had a 70 ft shaft with about 1000 ft of drifts. The ore was treated in a 10-stamp mill on the site.


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