HISTORIC CONTEXT

aka Quartz Creek, Trout Creek

The district, known primarily for its placer deposits, encompasses Cedar, Quartz and Trout Creeks, rising near the crest of the northward extension of the Bitterroot Mountain range. The creeks flow northeastward to enter the Clark Fork River above Superior (Sahinen 1935).

The placers were first claimed in 1869 by French Canadian Louis A. Barrette, and have seen continuous production since then. By 1935 the district had yielded at least $2,000,000 in gold and perhaps as much as $10,000,000. Annual output between 1869 and 1935 ranges from $1,000 to $50,000, with recovery primarily through sluicing and hydraulicking. A connected-bucket dredge was reported to have operated in 1912, and some shaft, drift and limited lode mining has been done. The gold was transported from Superior, a station on the Northern Pacific and the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroads (Rowe 1911; Sahinen 1935).

The gold recovered from the placers was considered to be exceptionally rich, ranging from $19.75 to $20.45 with a standard price of $20.67 per ounce. In 1875 it was reported that the various drifts were yielding as high as $300 to a set of timber, and that about $50,000 in gold was recovered each year from 1871 to 1873. The fineness was reported as ranging from .950 to .982 (Sahinen 1935; Lyden 1948).

Each of the creeks has several notable tributaries for which some information is available.

Oregon Gulch and Snowshoe Gulch have both been significant producers along Cedar Creek. In 1875, one company on Snowshoe Gulch grossed $9,200 in 10 weeks with nine men. The net profit for the owners was $4,600, with an additional two to three thousand dollars stolen from the sluices. Windfall Creek, a tributary of Trout Creek, is considered to be the largest producer of placer gold in the district. The "Miller Ground" claim on Windfall Creek was reported to have yielded gold valued at $150,000 by 1919. Tucker Gulch is an important tributary of Quartz Creek, although production along Quartz Creek probably did not exceed $100,000 (Lyden 1948).

The initial rush on Cedar Creek, especially on Oregon Gulch was so great that a hundred miners staked out 200 claims within six months of the initial discoveries in 1869. Mining camps arose and were abandoned quickly as the focus of placering shifted around the district. The population of the district rose upwards of 10,000 by some estimates. In 1870, Forest City, on Cedar Creek itself, reached a population of 7,000 and was a wholesale commercial center for many towns in the area including Missoula. The success of the district prompted publication for three years of "The Missoula and Cedar Creek Pioneer" newspaper. The paper was then moved to Missoula and its name changed to the Missoulian (Smith 1899; Rowe 1911b; Lyden 1948; Wolle 1963).

The gold is recovered from stream and bench gravels located along the three creeks and their tributaries. The gold originates from veins associated with igneous dykes crosscutting the northward extension of the Bitterroots. Chalcopyrite is the principal ore material, and also carries copper and silver in small amounts (Sahinen 1935).

BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT

Sahinen (1935) locates the district as encompassing Cedar, Quartz and Trout Creeks and their tributaries, which originate near the crest of the northwestward extension of the Bitterroot Range. The creeks flow northeastward to the Clark Fork River.

HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES

Although Sahinen (1935) and Lyden (1948) both note that some lode mining has been conducted in the district, no mention of specific mines occurs in the literature. Lode mining appears to have been generally confined to the period between 1915 and 1919, inclusive. Lode production at this time is estimated at less than $500,000 and included copper, silver and gold (Sahinen 1935; Lyden 1948).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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