McCartney Mountain is an isolated uplift about eight miles south of Melrose, east of today's Interstate 15 in the benchlands north of the lower Big Hole River. The highest elevation in the district is approximately 7,900 feet at McCartney Mountain. The Big Hole River forms the southern boundary of the district. By 1885 several relatively rich silver and lead lodes carrying some gold had been developed, but all or almost all shut down after the repeal of the Sherman Purchase Act in 1892 led to greatly lowered silver prices. Most of the mines were worked again as the price of silver rose, but only one continued to operate after World War II. As of 1935, the two most productive mines were the Mueller and the Monte Clark (Sahinen 1935).
The McCartney Mountain region is underlain by metamorphosed Mesozoic sediments that have been intruded by a mass of quartz monzonite. Ore deposits occur as veins in both the igneous and sedimentary rocks; the ore is argentiferous galena. The ore showed 38 ounces of silver, 0.15 to 0.3 ounces in gold, and 16 to 76 percent lead (Sahinen 1935; Rowe 1941).
On April 27, 1881, the Dillon Tribune reported:
Some of our old prospectors are making preparations to examine the surrounding mountains in search of quartz. They propose starting in near Ryan's Canyon and traveling in the direction of McCartney Mountain (quoted in Taylor and Kingsbury 1986).
By 1885 several relatively rich silver and gold lodes had been developed in the McCartney Mountain area, including the Polly Jane mine and the Mountain View lode. Most mines dependent on silver closed when silver prices plummeted in 1893, but work on the Polly Jane continued as the price of silver rose gradually. The principal mines in operation after World War I were the Mueller and Monte Clark, located on the flanks of McCartney Mountain along a southeast spur two and three miles respectively from the mountain's summit. Stimulated again in 1934 by the establishment of the gold standard, the Polly Jane continued operation. Activity at all the mines, however, ceased with the onset of World War II. The only mine that was worked after the war was the BB & IE lode. A mill to process the ore was built near the Polly Jane. In the 1950's there were a number of adits and prospect pits scattered around McCartney Mountain, but only those in the vicinity of the Mueller and Monte Clark mines were being worked (Richards 1925; Taylor and Kingsbury 1986; Steuer 1956).
The importance of placers on McCartney Creek was relatively insignificant, although some placer mining was done along the headwaters of the creek. The placer gold in McCartney Creek probably came from the veins on the north and east flanks of McCartney Mountain (Lyden 1948).
Rock phosphate deposits were discovered in the McCartney Mountain region in 1910. By the 1950's numerous prospect pits and bull-dozed cuts had been made, but as of 1956 the high- grade beds of phosphate were not sufficiently thick to warrant further production (Steuer 1956).
BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT
Discussion of boundaries for the McCartney Mountain mining district have not been found in the historic literature. One source (Taylor and Kingsbury 1986) refers to the "unorganized McCartney Mountain." The district is best defined topographically. Figure 1 shows the district as defined by the AMRB (1994) with a smaller area showing the area of the primary mines.
HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES
BB & IE Lodes
The BB & IE lodes represent the improvements associated with one of several lodes patented by Herman J. Mueller. The mine was located at an elevation of 7,560 feet in the southwest 1/4 of the northwest 1/4 of the northwest 1/4 of the southeast 1/4 of Section 4 of T4S, R8W. The complex was apparently abandoned by 1942, and no structures were shown at this location on a 1916 GLO map. In 1985 the complex included the residence, workshop, blacksmith shop/shaft house, stable, and mine of "an individual [miner] who appears to have been a master carpenter" (Taylor and Kingsbury 1986).
The Contentment mine was listed as producing lead in 1930 (Gilbert 1935).
The Hidden Treasure mine in the McCartney Mountains was located in sections 4 and 9 of T4S, R8W. It was also known as the Bieber Mine and the Keith Mine. The group of mines covered 200 acres. The mine yielded gold-bearing ore between 1919-1931 and 1934-35. In 1925 the Keith & Bieber Mining Company was working the mine, and in 1932 Frederick Gilbert of Butte took it over. In 1926 some of the gold was reported to have assayed at 13 ounces gold per ton, but the expense of development was "far more than receipts." In 1930 the smelting ore contained nearly 5 ounces gold per ton. By 1932 the mine had produced "quite a tonnage" of high- grade gold ore, part of which was milled in a small plant at the mine (Mineral Resources Survey 1941; Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology files).
In 1931 the Hidden Treasure was the chief producer in the district. In that year it amalgamated 108 tons of ore, shipping 98 tons to the Anaconda smelter. By 1934 Mrs. B. T. Asbury of Anaconda owned the 7 unpatented claims in quartz, and there was a 5-ton ball mill with a 10-ton amalgamation and gravity concentration plant at the site. At one time the mine had four tunnels totaling over 1,000 feet, plus a 75 foot winze. The mine was open to about 350 feet in depth and four men worked on the development. According to one report, the mill last operated in 1940, and the total production was valued about $150,000 (Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology files).
The Little Maudie is listed as producing gold in 1933 (Gilbert 1935).
Although the Monte Clark mine is cited in the historic literature as one of the two most productive mines in the district, little information is available on it. In 1925 the Monte Clark mine was described as a shaft near the contact of sedimentary rocks with intrusive andesite. It reportedly had produced considerable ore by that time (Richards 1925).
Mountain View Lode
The Mountain View Lode (site 24MA741) was part of a group of claims patented in 1924 by Carrie Keith and others. It is located in the northwest 1/4 of the northeast 1/4 of the northeast 1/4 of the southwest 1/4 of section 4 in T4S, R8W. No buildings were shown at this location on the 1916 and 1923 GLO maps, but in 1986 there were the remains of a residence and outbuildings at the site. The mine was probably abandoned in 1893, definitely by 1916. During the 1920s the price of silver increased, and some of the mines in the area opened again, including the Mountain View which was listed as producing gold in 1931 (Taylor and Kingsbury 1986; Gilbert 1935).
At 7,600 feet in elevation near the portals of other shafts and tunnels associated with the Mountain View Lode is a cabin shown on a 1923 GLO map. Other features at the site were developed between 1885 and 1895. Also contained in the group of lode claims were the Vermont, Liver Pool, Mountain View No. 2, and Montana Lodes. The mine is located in the southwest 1/4 of the northeast 1/4 of the northeast 1/4 of the southwest 1/4 of section 4 of T4S, R8W (Taylor and Kingsbury 1986).
The Jay Gould and the Silver Cliff claims were worked from ca. 1905 until at least 1925 by Edward Mueller & Sons, and were producing gold as late as 1931. The workings featured an adit level 800 feet long, above which were extensive stopes. An exposed, well-defined vein cut porphyritic granite near the contact with metamorphosed Cretaceous beds. The ore was silver-bearing galena, with rich oxidized products near the surface. A short distance away was the Silver King lode, enclosed between sedimentary beds. The silver-bearing ore at that claim consisted of drusy quartz and limonite (Richards 1925; Sahinen 1935; Gilbert 1935).
About 3/4 mile southwest of the Mueller mine Ira White sank a shaft in 1913 on an ore body in metamorphosed sedimentary rock near the granite contact. About 40 tons of shipping ore (mostly galena) had been produced by 1925. Assays showed about 38 ounces of silver and $3-7 in gold per ton and 16-76 percent of lead (Richards 1925).
The Polly Jane mine produced silver, lead, gold, copper, oxidized lead, and lead concentrate. The Mineral Review lists the mine as producing ores in 1912, 1915-16, 1919-1923, 1925, 1927, 1929-1930, and 1935. The mine, mill and residential complex representing the Polly Jane mine date most of the activity between 1885 and 1917. The claim belonged to Herman J. Mueller, and it was platted in 1947 (including the Polly Jane, Effie, Bessie, BB and IE Lodes and the Polly Jane Mill Site). In 1916, when the GLO surveyed the area, no mining was taking place, but the notes indicated the presence of an "Old Miners Trail," plus two cabins belonging to Denny H. Logie and Ed Mueller. The 1886 GLO survey notes mention that the "McCarty" mines in sections 3 and 4, T4S, R8W were "very rich in lead and silver." After the panic of 1893, the site was occupied at least seasonally with limited mining until shortly before 1916. Some mining may also have occurred in the 1930s. A log cookhouse/bunkhouse, a building foundation (later trash pit), a post-World War I cabin, and a log cabin were still extant on the site in 1985. The mill and its machinery were removed after the mine's closure, possibly shortly after the 1893 financial panic (Taylor and Kingsbury 1986; Gilbert 1935; Mineral Resources Survey 1941).
Another part of the mine is located in the northwest 1/4 of the northwest 1/4 of the southeast 1/4 of the northeast 1/4 of section 4, T4S, R8W at an elevation of approximately 7400 feet, within a mile of Mueller Spring. A corrugated metal shed is still standing at the site, just west of the vertical shaft of the mine, but the headframe and hoist machinery used to remove ore from the mine portal have been removed. The mine was opened during the mid-1880s and abandoned in 1895. Some work appears to have continued during the 1910s and 1920s. There are two other vertical shafts that appear to be older located 40 feet northeast of the end of the waste ore pile (Taylor and Kingsbury 1986).
The Silver Clark mine is located near a contact of sedimentary rocks with intrusive andesite (Sahinen 1935). No other information is available on the mine.
According to a 1925 report, prospects in granite on the upper part of Timber Gulch had produced good ore (Richards and Pardee 1925).
The Vermont Mine, located in sections 4 and 9 of T4S, R8W adjacent to the Hidden Treasure mine, produced silver-gold-lead-zinc ore. Between 1924 and 1928 the ore was valued at $12,475. Mrs. George Sypher of Seattle and others owned the four patented claims and developed them with 1,200 feet of drifts, tunnels and shafts. In 1928 the lead ore contained 193 ounces of silver per ton (Montana Bureau of Minerals and Geology files).
In 1935 development work consisted of a 640 foot adit, several shallow shafts, and open cuts. The owner reported that the last shipment of 6 tons netted $1,800 and that he planned to start producing again in the summer of 1935 (Gilbert 1935).
The White mine is on a galena ore deposit in metamorphosed sediments near the granite contact (Sahinen 1935).
The Windy mine was listed as producing lead, gold and silver in 1917 (Gilbert 1935).
Abandoned Mine Reclamation Bureau (AMRB)
1994 Mining districts of Montana. Maps 1:100,000 and Map #94-NRIS-129. Compiled and edited by Joel Chavez. Prepared by Montana State Library Natural Resource Information System (NRIS) for Montana Department of State Lands. Helena
1898 Ninth Annual Report of the Inspector of Mines of the State of Montana.
1899 Tenth Annual Report of the Inspector of Mines of the State of Montana for the Year Ending Nov. 30, 1898.
Calderhead, J. H.
1898 The Treasure State and Its Industries and Resources: 6th Annual Report of the Bureau of Agriculture, Labor and Industry of the State of Montana for the Year Ending November 30, 1898, Independent Publishing Co., Helena.
Gilbert, F. C.
1935 "Directory of Montana Mining Properties," Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Memoir No. 15, Montana School of Mines, Butte.
Lyden, Charles J.
1948 The Gold Placers of Montana, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Memoir no. 26.
Mineral Resources Survey (WPA)
1941 Montana Mine Index: An Alphabetical Index Arranged by Counties, Districts and Mines of Information on Montana Mines from 1867-1941, Montana School of Mines, Butte.
Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology
Files on Hidden Treasure and Vermont Mines.
Richards, R. W., and Pardee, J. T.
1926 "The Melrose Phosphate Field, Montana," U. S. Geological Survey, Bull. 780-A.
Rowe, Jesse Perry
1941 "Geography and Natural Resources of Montana. Montana State University, 1933 (Revised 1941). Missoula
Sahinen, Uuno Mathias
1935 "Mining Districts of Montana," M. S. thesis, Montana School of Mines, Butte.
1956 Geology of the McCarthy Mountain Area, Beaverhead and Madison Counties, Montana, M. S. thesis, University of Utah.
Taylor, John, and Larry Kingsbury
1985 "McCartney Mountain Burn," Cultural Resource Class III Inventory Report 85-MT-070-077-35 and associated site forms, prepared for the Bureau of Land Management.