aka Mill Creek (sub-district)
aka Brandon (sub-district) aka Indian Creek (sub-district) aka Ramshorn (sub-district) aka Quartz Hill (sub-district) aka Bivin Gulch (sub-district) aka Wisconsin Gulch (sub-district)
The Sheridan district, in the heart of the Ruby Valley, includes the smaller sub-districts of Wisconsin Creek, Indian Creek, Brandon (near mouth of Mill Creek), Mill Creek (near the upper portion of Mill Creek), Quartz Hill (between Mill and Indian Creeks), and Ramshorn and Bivins gulches (Winchell 1914; Sahinen 1935).
Placer gold was discovered in Ramshorn and Bivins gulches soon after the discovery of gold at Virginia City. Below the forks of Wisconsin Creek, the stream gravels have been worked with hydraulic giants. In the Ramshorn district placering began in the 1860s and continued on the upper stream until the second decade of the Twentieth century (Winchell 1914).
Within a year of the district's placer discoveries, many gold-bearing quartz veins were located. The Company mine in Williams Gulch, was opened in 1864, the ore being treated locally in stamp mills and arrastras. The Branham mill, for which Mill Creek and the Mill district were named, was crushing ore in 1865. The Whittacker mill was located in the Quartz Hill district in 1869. The 1880's saw arrastras become the favored mode of ore reduction. Later, during the 1890's, the ore from some of the mines was treated in stamp and cyanide mills. The most important producers were the Noble, Red Pine, Fairview, Smuggler, and Betsy Baker lodes (Swallow 1891; Winchell 1914; Sahinen 1935).
No production figures are available for the period between 1864 and 1904. However, it has been estimated that the district produced several times as much as the period between 1905 and 1914 when 10,490 tons of ore produced $170,190 primarily in gold. Production figures from 1905 to 1930 inclusive of the region were $9,666 in gold from placers and 38,810 tons of ore yielding $299,515 in gold, 105,460 ounces of silver, 137,153 pounds copper, 1,278,313 pounds of lead, and 143,54 pounds of zinc valued at $567,413 (Sahinen 1935).
The district is composed of ore deposits related to underlying or nearby granitic masses, although some are apparently related to dikes. Ore deposits occur as veins (fissure fillings) and as replacements in limestone. The primary minerals are pyrite, arsenopyrite, chalcopyrite, sphalerite, and galena in a gangue of quartz and rarely siderite. Gold and silver occur in the ore (Winchell 1914; Sahinen 1935).
Wisconsin Creek Sub-district
The primary mines in this sub-district are the Fairview, Company, Montana, Lake Shore and Leiter. These mines were some of the earliest in the area, but their primary development was in the 1890's and early 1900's. Because of the steep terrain, aerial trams were often used to transport ore from the adit to stamp mills. Leiterville was the largest community in the district, but a smaller camp of Fairview flourished for a short time (Winchell 1914).
Leiterville gradually evolved from a mill camp to a community in the 1880's. When the 5-stamp mill was sold to L. Z. Leiter the camp took the man's name for its own. After 1893, the operations of the Leiter mine and mill were greatly expanded. A large stamp mill replaced the old mill and a cyanide plant was erected to work the tailings. Life in the camp was also enhanced by the construction of miner's cabins, a boardinghouse, a manager's home, and a schoolhouse. Leiter's nephew, T. B. Leiter, was placed in charge of the operation, but instead of attending to business, he threw lavish parties at company expense. When his Uncle found out, the relative was sent packing and the operation put under competent management (Wolle 1963).
Indian Creek Sub-district
Although Winchell (1914) states that there were no important mines in this sub-district, the Blue Bird and Red Pine were being worked intermittently by lessees. These mines were near the headwaters of the creek (Winchell 1914).
Mill Creek Sub-district
Although the lower areas of Mill Creek are known as the Quartz Hill and Brandon districts, the upper reaches of the stream contain the mines of the Mill Creek sub-district. This area is at relatively high elevation and contains glacial amphitheaters, small lakes and glacial debris. The Belle mine is located in a glacial cirque at 9,500 feet. The ore in the area is auriferous pyrite showing little evidence of enrichment.
Quartz Hill Sub-district
The Quartz hill sub-district is known for its numerous large quartz veins. These veins have yielded a good grade of gold ore, but when described in 1914, the district was idle (Winchell 1914).
The Brandon sub-district centers around the town of Brandon at the mouth of Mill Creek. The town of Brandon was established in the summer of 1864. By fall the town had 27 good cabins, two blacksmith shops and the Brandon City House hotel. The town gained employment through mining and a local quartz mill. In 1874 the town was placed in the running for the new Territorial capital against such heavyweights as Virginia City and Helena. Although the placement of the town on the ballot was done as a lark, when the votes were counted, the town lost to Virginia City by a single vote. The town was most active in 1903 and 1904. The Toledo mine north of town in the foothills was the district's most prominent mine and many of the town's residents were employed at the mine and the 150 ton mill (Winchell 1914; Wolle 1963).
The principal mine of the Ramshorn district was the Toledo. The Betsy Baker and the Walker, which were located across the gulch, were also active producers (Winchell 1914).
BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT
Cope (1888) discusses, but does not name, a mining district "On the west slope of the Tobacco Root range, bordering the Ruby and Jefferson Rivers and including the Mill Creek, Wisconsin and Georgia mining districts".
Winchell (1914) describes the district as the area around Sheridan, including a number of sub-districts: Wisconsin district on Wisconsin Creek, Indian District on Indian Creek, Brandon District near the mouth of Mill Creek Gulch, Mill Creek district on the upper portion of Mill Gulch, the Quartz Hill district on a knob terminating a ridge between Mill Creek and Indian Creek, the Ramshorn district in Ramshorn Gulch and the Bivin district in Bivin Gulch. Thus defined the district extends 10 miles north of Sheridan at the upper end of the Wisconsin district and 10 miles east of Sheridan at the upper end of Ramshorn Gulch. This area forms a rough triangle with extensions in Bivins Gulch and lower Ramshorn Gulch.
Sahinen (1935) places the district from California Gulch nine miles southwest of Sheridan to Wisconsin Creek about 10 miles northeast of Sheridan. Sheridan was a station on the Ruby Valley branch of the Northern Pacific Railroad.
Tansley (1937) maintains that there is little reason to divide the mines in the area around Twin Bridges from the mines around Sheridan. His argument is that there is little difference in the character of the mines other than being "tributary" to one town or the other. The dividing line between the two tributary zones, he places north of Wisconsin Creek.
HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES
The Agitator mine is located on Ramshorn Creek 10.7 miles by road from Sheridan. The mine was leased by L. E. Wright and A. L. Moore when it was described in 1937. The mine was developed by five adit tunnels on the vein with a combined distance of 400 feet. Quartz lenses 3 to 4 feet wide found in limestone were the source of the mine's ore. The two operators and one hired hand milled about 500 tons of oxidized ore per season in a small mill on the property. The mill contained three stamps weighing around 600 or 700 pounds that dropped at 80 to 100 strokes per minute. The pulp was contained around the stamps by a 40 mesh screen. Below the battery was a amalgam plate and then two blanket tables. Following the blanket tables the pulp passed over a launder plate and then to the waste pile. The mill was powered by a home-made overshot water wheel 10 feet in diameter which turned at 22 to 26 rpm. A flume and ditch delivered the water to the mill from Ramshorn Creek. The mill was estimated to recover 90 % of the ore values (Tansley, Schafer and Hart 1933;.Lorain 1937).
The Bedford mine is a silver-lead property and is composed of the Bedford and Melrose claims. The ore contained 30 to 50 percent lead, 25 fine ounces of silver and $5 in gold per ton. By 1888, 150 tons had been hauled by wagon 50 miles to Dillon and then shipped to smelters in Omaha. The tunnel was originally developed by a 100-foot tunnel and a 50-foot shaft. In 1888, a Helena company was sinking a 2-compartment shaft; 150 feet were completed at the time of the report with the vein expected to be struck at 200 feet. The shaft was equipped with a steam hoist and pumping plant. Plans were mentioned of a concentrating mill to be erected after the vein came in. The mine was listed in 1914 as the most important mine in the Ramshorn district. It is located near the end of the gulch at an elevation of 7,800 feet. In 1914 a crosscut was being driven to schist to the vein (Cope 1888; Winchell 1914).
The Belle mine is located in a glacial cirque at the head of Mill Creek. Its location marks the dividing line between the silver-lead properties of the west slope of the Tobacco Root range and the gold-iron lodes of the eastern slope. The mine had telluride ores not encountered in either district. Some of the ore from the Belle Vein assayed an amazing $4,460 per ton. By 1888, the mine was developed by shafts and levels to a depth of 180 feet and had produced 71.5 tons of ore. The ore was worked in an arrastra on the property, returning $5,000 in gold. Ultimately, a series of crosscut adits with short drifts developed the vein for a distance of nearly 1,000 feet. The mine produced gold, silver, copper and lead ore from 1909 through 1911 and again from 1929 through 1935. The mine was mentioned in the mining literature in 1909 (Cope 1888; Tansley, Schafer and Hart 1933; WPA 1940).
The Betsy Baker mine is located across from the Bedford near the head of Ramshorn Creek. The mine worked a bedding plane deposit that was exposed in three crosscut adits. In 1933, three independent leasing operations were working the adits of the mine. The mine produced gold and silver ore intermittently from 1912 to 1935. The mine was mentioned in the mining literature in 1903 and again in 1912 (WPA 1940; Tansley, Schafer and Hart 1933).
The Brandon mill in Mill Gulch was the first mill to be erected in the Sheridan district. The mill was erected in 1865 and soon the creek and the district were known as Mill Creek. The mill had 12-stamps of 500 pounds each and could work 12 tons per day. The low rate was due to the motive force being obtained from water power. The mill could reduce ore at a rate of about $2.00 per ton. The gold was caught on tables and blankets (Winchell 1914).
The Buckeye mine is located at Brandon near the mouth of Mill Creek. Alfred Cisler, one of the first settlers of the town of Brandon, discovered the Buckeye mine in the 1860s. The property is composed of five locations on the same vein, three of the group were patented: the Buckeye, the Buckeye #1, and the Buckeye #5. The claims were formally located in January of 1883 and were surveyed for patent in March of 1896. Henry Elling, Virginia City general store owner turned mining magnate, owned the property at the time of the survey which listed $3,930 in tunnels, shafts, and levels.
The Buckeye claims showed surface mineralization their entire length of the 600-foot wide vein. When George Cope visited the site in the mid 1880's he noted that the entire surface could be mined with a scraper and run through concentrating jigs. To dig anywhere on the claim was to find ore. He predicted the true value of the mine was as a large producer of low-class ore (Cope 1888).
In 1896 the property, which was owned by Henry S. Gilbert et al.,was one of three best developed mines in district, and was being developed by David Fifer of Butte, who took a lease and a bond on the mine. By 1898, Fifer had excavated the shaft to 70 feet where he struck a fine vein of galena and carbonate ore. The shaft, which was sunk entirely in ore, dropped to the 100-foot level before developing a system of levels and cross-cuts. In May of 1898 Fifer began to run the concentrator in Brandon entirely on Buckeye ore. In July he freighted 35 tons of galena to Twin Bridges to be shipped by rail to the smelter in East Helena (Western Mining World passim).
The mine continued to be developed by a series of lessees. In 1899 O. S. Brooks and John Merrill leased the mine and were reported to be taking out good ore. In March of 1900 Cavanaugh and McDonald leased the property and sent ore to the Twin Bridges Smelter. Later the same year Wiseman and Co. shipped ore from the mine to East Helena. Although the mine was listed as one of the district's most developed in 1902, the mine saw little further work until 1919 (Western Mining World passim).
Interest was renewed in the mine in 1916 when it was listed in the Mineral Record as a key producer of the district. However, production did not resume until 1919 when several lots were shipped from the mine. The next year it briefly resumed its role as one of the district's largest producers before shutting down in 1921. In 1924, development resumed under the recently organized Buckeye Corporation as several lots of sulphide ore were shipped from the mine. In 1925 the mine's lessees shipped lead-zinc ore to the Timber Butte plant in Butte. Although the mine was only active for 30 days, it was the district's leading producer and the lessees opened up a large body of ore. The 1926 season saw the mine still under lease and shipping its ore to the Timber Butte Plant from January to March. Although the Buckeye Corporation ended its active roll in the operation of the mine in 1927, new lessees shipped several cars of lead-zinc ore to Butte in 1928. By 1929 the mine had risen to become the chief producer in the district (Mineral Record 1916 - 1929; Trauerman 1950).
In 1929 the Vigilante Mining Corporation (VMC) began serious development of the property. Organized in August of 1929 with Texas capital and with A. H. Dahle as President, the company was reported to be remodeling the mill at the Buckeye (probably the Brandon Mill). A 75-ton concentrating table and flotation plant was ordered from Butte Machinery Co. and installed by September. By October, VMC was reported to be working the mine dump and by the end of the year had reduced 2,648 tons of material to 344 tons of lead concentrate. In addition, several cars of lead-zinc were shipped to Butte. In 1930, the mine was listed as one of the chief producers of lead in Montana. Operations, including both the Brandon mill and the lead-zinc ore shipments to Butte, were suspended in June of 1930 (Mining Truth 1929; Mining Journal 1929; Mineral Record 1929; 1930).
Because the stock market crash of October of 1929 and the following Great Depression reduced both mining speculation and the government's ability to report on mineral production, the mine disappeared from both trade journal and government reports. In 1933, Wilfred Tansley described the mine's development as two adits which had been extended over 600 feet on the vein. He noted that a portion of the Buckeye ore body was stoped and the ore concentrated at the Buckeye Mill. He also reported that the collapse of mineral prices had brought an end to production (Tansley, Schafer and Hart 1933).
Yet with the huge body of low-grade ore, the mine continued to interest developers. From 1944 to 1948, the Buckeye Corporation leased the property to Victoria Mines, Inc. who operated the mine. The mine and mill were most recently operated by Steve Mortensen until 1983. The mine was worked with front-end loaders, loaded into trucks, crushed with a ball mill and concentrate shipped to East Helena for final treatment.
The Company mine was located on the south fork of Wisconsin Creek in 1864. The Company #1 was the first lode mine to be discovered in the Sheridan district and in the Wisconsin sub-district. The mine was developed by D. B. Noble and would later bear his name. Around the mine a small camp named Nobleville housed the miners and their families. Noble along with a man named Alesworth built an arrastra at "Nobleville" in 1868. Around 1883 the mine was sold to the Noble Mining & Milling Co. which operated the mine on a large scale for 10 years. The company equipped the mine with a 10-stamp mill with plates, but the process was not entirely successful (Winchell 1914; Ryan 1993).
The mine was developed by a 2,700 foot crosscut to a 4 foot wide vein of auriferous pyrite. A 100 foot raise at 2,200 feet followed the vein 1,100 feet to the upper level where the vein is 300 feet from the surface. The oxidized ore from the mine contains native gold, cerargyrite and malachite. The sulphide ore contains pyrite, tetrahedrite, sphalerite, bornite and chalcopyrite. By 1888, 600 tons of ore had been processed, returning $33 per ton. In 1914 the mine was listed as being worked by lessees. The property was later known as the Noble mine after extensions filed on the Company claim (Winchell 1914).
An arrastra on the Noble fork of Wisconsin Creek survived intact until 1993 when vandals removed the mill stones and destroyed the mill in the process (Ryan 1993).
Cousin Jennie and Cousin Jack
The Cousin Jennie and Cousin Jack mine located in the southwest quarter of section 4, T4S, R3W, eleven miles up Mill Creek. The mine was apparently located after 1930. In 1932 the claim was owned by Lawrence Moser and was the only mine active on Mill Creek in 1937. The Cousin Jennie mine was owned and operated by D. T. Clemo of Sheridan in 1937. Clemo was removing high grade gold ore using hand methods. Working by himself, he was able to remove one ton of ore per month. By 1937 the mine had yielded 15 tons of gold ore which netted $1,700 after costs (Lorain 1937; Ryan 1988a).
The Cousin Jack mine is located on a parallel vein. The mine had two adits and a short cross cut from which 70 feet of drifting had been done. A log cabin and two other structures supported the mine operation (Lorain 1937; Ryan 1988a).
The Ella Jay mine recorded gold and silver production in 1910, 1913, and 1922. It was also active from 1927 to 1929 and again in 1934, 1939 and 1940 (WPA 1940).
The Emma B. mine was active in 1916 and from 1922 through 1934. The mine was worked by the Smuggler Mining Co. as part of their Smuggler property (see below). The mine was discussed in the mining literature from 1927 to 1931. The mine claim was the site of hydroelectric power generation. A 3,350 foot water system delivered water from Mill Creek near Johnson Gulch to the mining claim. There the water generated 300 feet of head to turn a 130 h.p. Pelton wheel generator. Although the property was officially withdrawn from mineral entry to generate electricity, apparently the Smuggler Mining Company continued to extract ore from the claim (WPA 1940; Ryan 1988).
The Fairview mine is located in SE section 31 T3S, R4W on the south fork (Noble Fork) of Wisconsin Creek, 6.5 miles from Sheridan. Although the ore deposit was discussed by Cope in 1888, the mine was not opened until the 1890s. The property was composed of four claims with several small adits. Although it was mentioned as a leading mine in the district by Winchell (1914), it was idle from 1906 to 1912. The next officially recorded production was in 1923 (Cope 1888; Walsh and Orem 1912; Winchell 1914; WPA 1940; Wolle 1963).
In 1912 the mine employed eight men in an adit described variously as 400 or 700 feet long. The adit was also developed by a 60-foot winze, drifts and stopes. The mine was supported by a mill, a tramway and a power plant. In the 1930s the mine was described as a series of adits and shafts, with operations at the time confined to stoping out of a shaft connecting to the middle tunnel (Walsh and Orem 1912; Winchell 1914; Tansley, Schafer and Hart 1933).
A mill containing a water-powered 6-stamp battery was in place by 1899. Around the mill was the mining camp of Fairview. This collection of well-built log homes contained the mine and mill workers as well as their families. The mine was about a quarter mile above the settlement (Aaberg 1985).
The mine also recorded production in 1926 and from 1934 to 1940. The mine was leased by the Fairview Syndicate in 1935 and was operated by the Fairview Gold Mining Company in 1939. In 1937 the mine was described as comprising an adit crosscut with several hundred feet of drifting; an ore shoot 10 to 20 feet long and 2 to 4 feet thick was mined actively during the year. The 740 tons shipped returned an average of $43 a ton in gold. The mine was equipped with a 22 cubic feet Gardiner Denver portable compressor, blacksmith shop, change room and ore bins (Winchell 1914; Lorain 1937; WPA 1940).
The Gladstone mine was originally called the Lake Shore. The mine officially reported production in 1910 and 1911. In 1923 the Gladstone Mine and Reduction Co. reopened the mine in 1923 and shipped gold concentrates until 1928. The mine was mentioned in the mining literature in 1928 (WPA 1940).
In 1937 the mine was reopened and examined by a five-man crew under William H. Mader. The mine was owned by the Piedmont Co. of Reno, Nevada (Lorain 1937).
The Goldsmith mine, known variously as the Goldschmidt or Steiner, is a group of four claims located 11.6 miles by road from Sheridan. The mine is on Currant Creek, a northerly branch of Ramshorn Creek. When described in 1937, the mine was owned by Jake Steiner and sons of Sheridan. The mine was developed by a crosscut adit with about 300 feet of drifting on the vein and a small underhand stope. Above the late 1930's workings were older workings on the same vein. High grade gold ore was extracted using hand methods. The ore was reduced by a 2-inch grizzly worked in combination with a 5 x 7 inch jaw crusher. Ore was collected in a small ore bin that fed a 10 stamp Straub prospectors mill which reduced the ore to pulp. This pulp passed over a two-section amalgam plate and then over two blanket tables. Power was provided by a McCormick Deering tractor belted to the line shaft. The mill could work 12 to 15 tons of oxidized ore per hour with a return of 83%. The mine was active from 1928 through 1940; the mine was discussed in the mining literature in 1931 and again in 1938 (Lorain 1937; WPA 1940).
The Jonquil mine, located in Wisconsin Creek, is likely to be the south extension of the Noble vein which was first worked as the Company mine. In the Jonquil the vein is in Cherry Creek gneiss and schist. The vein was opened by a series of adits and some stoping was done in the upper workings. In the 1930s some work was done below the old stopes to develop narrow sulphide ore-shoots (Tansley, Schafer and Hart 1933).
Lake Shore (Gladstone)
The Lake Shore mine is located on the shore of a small glacial moraine lake at the head of Wisconsin Creek. The seven claim property was opened around 1900. The mine was developed by two main adits, one 1,000 feet above the other. The longer adit was 500 feet long while the shorter was 200 feet (circa 1912 lengths). By 1902, a 10-stamp mill was erected at the lower adit that obtained values with concentrators andplates. Later this mill would be augmented by a 100 ton cyanide plant. In 1914 the Lakeshore / Gladstone was described as the most active mine in the Sheridan district for the preceding decade (Byrne and Barry 1902; Winchell 1914).
The mine was active in 1911 and part of 1912. By 1914 the Lake Shore was known as the Gladstone. Thereafter, the Lakeshore and Gladstone reported production intermittently from 1915 to 1929 with some production around 1940. Prior to 1929 the mine is credited with 2,436 ounces of gold, 7,288 ounces of silver, and 7,154 pounds of copper from 4,317 tons of ore. In 1923 the Gladstone Mining and Reduction Company developed the mine and shipped gold, silver and lead. The mine was discussed in the mining literature in 1909, 1910, 1918 and 1928 (Walsh and Orem 1912; Winchell 1914; Lorain 1937; WPA 1940).
The Leiter mine, on the north fork of Wisconsin Creek, was about three miles south of the Gladstone mine. The mine was located in the 1860s or early 1870s by David McCranor who made the mine pay well. In 1877, Jerry Sullivan discovered three additional lodes in the area: the Grey Eagle, the Daniel and the Sheridan. Sullivan worked his claims until 1880 when he sold them to Hamilton and McCranor. McCranor took a trip to Chicago to obtain financing and on his return erected a 5-stamp water-powered mill on the property. Although the mine and mill were in operation for the next 10 seasons, they were not a success. McCranor's failing health forced the sale of the property, claim by claim (Wolle 1963).
In this way the mine came into the hands of L. Z. Leiter and soon the mine and the mining camp around shared his name. L. Z. Leiter placed his nephew T. Benton Leiter in charge of the operations, but when the relative's gross mismanagement came to the elder Leiter's attention, the young man was removed and competent management installed.
The Leiter property eventually was composed of fourteen lode claims, one placer claim and three mill sites. The mine worked the Grey Eagle and Sheridan veins. In the 1890s both the mining operation and the associated community expanded. The mining operation was equipped with an aerial tramway, stamp mill and a cyanide plant. A power plant provided motive force for both the mill and tram. Tailings from the mill were treated in the cyanide plant. When described in 1914, the mine had been idle for several years. In the late 1920's and early 1930's the mine was reopened and commercial sulphide ores were found in the deepest shaft. Unfortunately, the mill on the property could not successfully treat the ore. A long tunnel from the mill elevation was begun to tap the ore at depth, however, inadequate financing forced the end of excavation prior to reaching the goal (Winchell 1914; Tansley, Schafer and Hart 1933; Wolle 1963).
The McKay placer was worked intermittently from 1921 to 1934 (WPA 1940).
The Montana mine, located near the headwaters of Wisconsin Creek, was developed by the Montana Gold Mining Co. The mine worked a vein on the schists and quartzites of the Cherry Creek group. The mine was listed as abandoned in 1914 (Winchell 1914).
The Noble mine, in Wisconsin Creek, is an extension of the Company mine and later expanded to absorb the parent claim. The renamed property was listed as in development in 1888 when it was purchased by a St. Louis company for $95,000. A mill was erected that concentrated the ore. The mine was listed as being in development in 1892. The mine was active driving a raise in 1902, but problems were encountered with ventilation and labor. The operation was discussed in the mining literature in 1904 and reported gold, silver and copper production as early as 1905. The mine was again active from 1909 to 1911, 1925 and 1940. In 1933 the mine was described as a series of adits on a vein with the lowest excavation reaching 2,700 feet. The mine worked auriferous pyrite and chalcopyrite (Cope 1888; Hogan 1892; Tansley, Schafer and Hart 1933; WPA 1940).
The Paymaster mine is located in northeast section 31, T4S, R3W near the top of a tributary to Bivens Gulch. The mine was one of nine by the same name in Madison County, so some confusion has resulted in the historical record. The mine was apparently claimed by R. L. Green around the turn of the century and operated on a small scale until 1928 or 1930 out of an adit of undetermined length. A three stamp mill was constructed in the early 1920's and concentrates taken out by a team of mules. After the mine closed, the mill was disassembled and moved to another Bivens Gulch mine.
The Red Pine mine is located on Indian Creek, 8.5 miles from Sheridan. When it was described in 1937 it had recently been taken over by the White Pine Mining Co. with Robert H. Larson, president and manager. The mine on a fissure vein was developed by a short crosscut adit and about 500 feet of drifting. A longer (1,700 foot) adit intersected the vein 640 feet below the upper adit. From this, a drift was driven along the fracture. The mine was equipped with a Ingersoll-Rand 10 x 12 inch compressor, driven by a 50 h.p. motor. A 900 foot "jig-back" tram, with 400 pound buckets carried 40 tons of ore from the upper workings (Tansley, Schafer and Hart 1933; Lorain 1937).
The ore was delivered to a 50-ton flotation mill that had been recently completed in 1937. The tram dumped ore on a 1 inch grizzly worked with a 7 x 10 inch jaw crusher. Ore smaller than 1 inch was dumped into a 50 ton bin that fed a 4 x 5 foot Denver, Marcey-type ball mill that worked in a closed circuit with a Akins classifier. The ore ground to about 100 mesh overflowed from the classifier into the first cell of a 4-cell Denver Sub-A, No. 18 flotation machine. Finished concentrates were taken from the first cell. Flotation tails went over a Wilfley table. One ounce middling was returned to the ball mill while a concentrate carrying about 2 ounces of gold per ton was collected. The mill recovered about 85 to 90%.
The mine employed 11 men while 8 topmen were employed in the mill, office, dam and at the portal.
The mine reported occasional production from 1909 to 1923. From 1928 to 1940 the mine was active with only a few years gap in production. The mine was worked by the Sheridan Mining Company under a lease in 1935. The mine was discussed extensively in the mining literature in 1909 and again in 1929 through 1938 (WPA 1940).
The Silver King Mine shipped lead sulphide ore with gold and silver values in 1917, 1919, 1920, 1921 and 1927 (WPA 1940).
The Smuggler mine is located in southeast section 13, T4S, R4W, about seven miles from Sheridan on Mill Creek. It is developed by a 700-foot adit on the Smuggler vein with an additional 250 feet of drifting from the bottom of a 90 foot winze. Oxidized ore was milled on the property. When visited in 1988, seventeen log and frame structures, tailings ponds and four adits were observed (Tansley, Schafer and Hart 1933; Ryan 1988).
The mine was claimed by John and Thomas Cavanaugh, James McDonnell, Mrs. Clara Conley and Carrie Herman in 1897. At the time the mine had a shaft only 18 feet deep. In 1904 the mine was in the hands of Edgar and Emma Fletcher who filed for water rights for a dam on Mill Creek. The next year the mine title was passed to Fred Fletcher. No production is noted for this early activity. In 1928 Alex Walker of Butte refiled the claim. Under the guise of the Smuggler Mining Corp., Walker constructed a water system from the dam near Johnson Creek to a point on the Emma B. claim where the water would be used to turn a 130 h.p. Pelton wheel with a head of 300 feet (Ryan 1988).
In the late 1920s the Smuggler property consisted of 13 unpatented claims producing gold and silver. The property was developed by a 117-foot shaft; two adits of 150 and 200 feet; 340 feet of drifts; 425 feet of cross-cuts; 450 feet of raises and 160 feet of winzes. The hydroelectric plant on the Emma B. claim powered a 100 ton amalgamation and concentration mill. This mill contained a crusher, a No. 54 Marcy ball mill, classifier, 3 Wilfley tables, motors, and pumps. Other improvements included 25 buildings including an office, assay office and cabins to house 45 people. The site had water, electric and telephone systems (Ryan 1988).
Although the operation produced $24,117.03 in gold from 1930 to 1933, the milling process allowed $4 per ton profit to escape into the tails. Activity was suspended in 1934 while flotation techniques were examined. No further production was recorded in the historic period (Ryan 1988).
The Snowslide property was active in 1926 and intermittently through the 1930's (WPA 1940).
The Sunnyside mine is at the head of Cow Creek, a tributary of Mill Creek. The mine was developed by limited adit excavation which revealed two strong veins (Tansley, Schafer and Hart 1933).
Tamarack and Broadgauge
The Tamarack mine is located in the foothills of the Tobacco Root Mountains about 4.5 miles east of Sheridan. When it was described in 1937, it was owned by the Broadgauge and Tamarack Mining Co. with Alexander Leggat of Butte managing. The mine worked two intersecting fracture systems: the Broadgauge and the Tamarack. Ore is completely oxidized with free gold values. Most of the early production was from the Broadgauge while latter production concentrated on the Tamarack. In the early days of the district the mine was estimated to have produced $200,000 in gold ore from surface workings. The mine was active nearly every year from 1908 to 1940 producing gold, silver and copper ore with some lead ore. From 1908 to 1920, the official production has been 5,055 ounces of gold and 380 ounces of silver from 8,976 tons of ore. Beginning in the late 1920s the mine was operated by the Broadguage Tamarack Mining Company (Tansley, Schafer and Hart 1933; Lorain 1937; WPA 1940).
The mine was equipped with a compressor, drilling and blacksmith equipment, and an electric powered ball-mill. The plant utilized various plates and traps to recover the gold by straight amalgamation. A Wilfley table was installed but the lack of sulphides made it of little use (Lorain 1937).
The Toledo mine was located in the foothills half a mile north of the town of Brandon and was equipped with a 150-ton mill. In 1888, the mine was known as the Toleda and was developed by a 200-foot tunnel and a 50-foot shaft. While the values of the galena ore were well understood and a concentrator was available lower in Mill Creek, the property could not pay until a local railroad connection could be made. In 1914, the Toledo was described as one of the most active mine in the Sheridan district for the preceding decade. The mine was opened by a 400 foot shaft which has been explored for an additional 300 feet . At the 400 foot level a crosscut runs 280 feet west to the vein; a drift follows the vein 400 feet north. The ore was argentiferous galena with some auriferous pyrite and sphalerite. The mine was powered by a small hydroelectric plant and the 300-foot fall of water was enough to power the mill on the property and the town of Sheridan (Winchell 1914; Tansley et al. 1933; Wolle 1963).
The Williams mill was erected in the Quartz Hill sub-district in 1869. The mill had only three light stamps and was used on $15 to $18 ore (Winchell 1914).
1985 "Cultural Resources Survey Report: Wisconsin-Noble Hydro Project", prepared for the Wisconsin Creek Limited Partnership.
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
Barker, Sam, Jr.
1939 "History of Mining in Montana", Seven Talks About Mines, pp. 1-9, Butte Chamber of Commerce.
Beaverhead National Forest
1989 "Cultural Resources Inventory Report: West Gold Tidal Wave Exploration", BNF Report No. 89-BE-6-8, Sheridan.
Byrne, John and Frank Hunter
1898 Ninth Report of the Inspector of Mines of the State of Montana. State Publishing Company, Helena.
1899 Tenth Annual Report of the Inspector of Mines of the State of Montana for the Year ending November 30th, 1898. Independent Publishing Company, Helena.
Byrne, John and John J. Barry
1902 Fourteenth Annual Report of the Inspector of Mines of the State of Montana. Independent Publishing Company, Helena.
Calderhead, J. H.
1898 "Montana Bureau of Agriculture, Labor, and Industry, 6th Annual Report."
Cope, George F.
1888 Statistical and Descriptive Report upon the Mines of Madison County, Montana. Montana School of Mines. Butte. Typed copy made 1936.
Ferguson, Henry Gardiner and L. P. Benedict
1906 Montana Bureau of Agriculture, Labor and Industry, 10th Report.
Gardiner, C. Roe and Johnson, C. H.
1934 "Placer Mining in the Western United States", U.S. Bureau of Mines, Inf. Circ. 6786, pt. 1; Circ. 6787, pt. 2; Circ. 6788, pt. 3.
Gilbert, F. C.
1935 Directory of Montana Mining Properties. Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology: Memoir #15.
Government Land Office records. Bureau of Land Management, Butte.
Hall, J. H. and M. L. Rickman
1912 Montana Bureau of Agriculture, Labor and Industry, Thirteenth Report, for years 1911 and 1912.
Hogan, Joseph and Jacob Oliver
1892 Fourth Annual Report of Inspector of Mines, for the fiscal year 1892, Printers & Binders, Helena.
1992 "Cultural Resource Inventory and Assessment of Selected Sheridan District Mines, Madison County, Montana." Report for the Montana Department of State Lands prepared for HKM Associates, Billings by Western History Research, Bozeman.
1931 "Chromite Deposits Near Sheridan, Montana", Econ. Geology, Vol. 26, No. 6, pp. 625-629.
Lorain, S. H.
1937 "Gold Lode Mining in the Tobacco Root Mountains, Madison County, Montana", U. S. Bureau of Mines, Inf. Circ. 6972.
Lyden, Charles J.
1948 The Gold Placers of Montana. Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Memoir No. 26. Montana School of Mines, Butte.
Volume 13, p. 48. October 30, 1929.
1916. p. 412.
1919. p. 522.
1920. p. 213.
1924. p. 357.
1925. p. 649, 650.
1926. p. 403.
1928. p. 596.
1929. p. 841, 863, 865.
1930. p. 396, 420.
Vol. 13, p. 23, October 17, 1929.
Montana Bureau of Mines Vertical Files
1986 "Bivens Timber Sale, Supplementary Report", Cultural Resource Inventory Report Form, Beaverhead National Forest, Butte.
1988 "Smuggler Mine Site Tailing Removal Plan", Cultural Resource Inventory Report Form, Beaverhead National Forest, Butte.
1988a "Cousin Jenny Mine Plan of Operations", Cultural Resource Inventory Report Form, Beaverhead National Forest, Butte.
1993 "Noble Fork Arrastra Mill ARPA Case", Cultural Resource Inventory Report Form, Beaverhead National Forest, Butte.
Sahinen, Uuno M.
1935 "Mining Districts of Montana", Thesis, Montana School of Mines, Butte.
Sant, Mark B.
1994 "Cultural Resources Class III Inventory Report Warm Springs Land Exchange Beaverhead and Madison Counties, Montana", BLM Report No. 93-MT-070-076-064, Dillon.
Shoemaker, C. S.
1894 Fifth Annual Report of the Inspector of Mines of the State of Montana, Intermountain Publishing Company, Butte.
Shoemaker, C. S. and John Miles
1894 Sixth Annual Report of the Inspector of Mines of the State of Montana, Intermountain Publishing Company, Butte.
1896 Seventh Annual Report of the Inspector of Mines of the State of Montana, State Publishing Company, Helena.
Swallow, G. C., J. B. Trevarthen and Jacob Oliver
1891 Reports of Inspectors of Mines, State of Montana, year ending November 30th, 1890. Journal Publishing Company, Helena.
Tansley, Wilfred and Schafer, Paul A., and Hart, Lyman H.
1933 "A Geological Reconnaissance of the Tobacco Root Mountains, Madison County, Montana", Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Mem. 9.
Trauerman, Carl J. and Millard L. Reyner
1950 Directory of Montana Mining Properties, 1949. Montana School of Mines. Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology: Memoir #31.
Walsh, William and William Orem
1910 Biennial Report of Inspector of Mines for 1909-1910.
1912 Biennial Report of Inspector of Mines for 1911-1912. Independent Publishing Co. Helena.
Western Mining World.
Volume 5, #117, p. 308. December 12, 1896.
Volume 7, #168, p. 623. December 4, 1897.
Volume 7, #168, p. 628. December 4, 1897.
Volume 8, #173, p. 20. January 1, 1898.
Volume 8, #175, p. 44. January 22, 1898.
Volume 8, #184, p. 152. March 23, 1898.
Volume 8, #193, p. 260. May 28, 1898.
Volume 9, #199, p. 19. July 9, 1898.
Volume 11, #254, p. 48. June 29, 1899.
Volume 12, #11, p. 121. March 17, 1900.
Volume 13, #13, p. 151. September 29, 1900.
Volume 16, #19, p. 12. May 10, 1902.
Winchell, Alexander Newton
1911 "A Theory for the Origin of Graphite as Exemplified in the Graphite Deposit near Dillon, Montana", Economic Geology, Vol. 6, pp 218-230.
1914 "Mining Districts of the Dillon Quadrangle, Montana and Adjacent Areas", U. S. Geological Survey, Bulletin 574.
Wolle, Muriel S.
1963 Montana Pay Dirt. A Guide to the Mining Camps of the Treasure State. Sage Books, Denver.
Work Projects Administration (WPA) Mineral Resources Survey
1940 Montana Mine Index, An Alphabetical Index Arranged by Counties, Districts and Mines of Information on Montana Mines from 1867-1940. Montana School of Mines, Butte.
1904 "Famous Old Madison County, Montana", Mining World, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 32-35.