HISTORIC CONTEXT

aka Carter, East Coeur d'Alene

The Keystone district, located in the "St. Regis Bend" of the Clark Fork River, is a small district centered around Keystone Peak on the western end of the Ninemile Divide. The primary drainages are Keystone Creek and Slowey Gulch. The district is somewhat overshadowed by larger and more productive mining districts in the area, such as the Iron Mountain and Cedar Creek districts. Although placer mining probably has been conducted off and on along most of the major drainages, there apparently was not enough return to warrant notice in the existing literature. Lode mining also appears to have been historically insignificant, but on the basis of recent cultural resource inventories, it seems to be the primary form of mining in the Keystone district (Lindeman et al. 1984; Lolo National Forest 1989; 1992).

The district appears to have included an area that was originally called the Carter district, after the town of Carter (later Keystone). Mining began in the district in 1887 when Phillip O'Rourke, W.B. White, John C. Cromie, Harry Boyer and Patsy Finnegan located the Keystone quartz lode. Around the same time, the same claimants, along with Frank Tribbals, also located the Iron King and Iron Queen lodes which would later become the Nancy Lee Mine. In 1891, the Keystone and King Mining Company began working the Keystone mine with 28 men and a superintendent. The ore from the Keystone was shipped to a smelter in Helena. The company reorganized in 1892 as the King Mining and Milling Company, with the previous claimants, along with George B. McAuley, John M. Keith, Auton M. Hotter, and future Oregon U.S. Senator Jonathan Bourne - a Republican who supported the free coinage of silver.

The district saw intermittent and sporadic mining from the turn of the century into the 1930's, with a slight peak from 1910 to 1915. Some limited mining continued into the 1950's. No production records were found in the mining literature (Lindeman et al. 1984; Lolo National Forest 1989; 1992).

As a result of this mining activity, a town, known as "Town of O'Rourke," sprouted up along Keystone Creek. By 1891, the name was changed to Carter, after Montana U.S. Senator Thomas Carter who helped secure a post office for the town. Between 300 and 500 miners were estimated to live in the town by 1887, and the town boasted a union hall, general store, hotel, two boarding houses, butcher and blacksmith shops, school and post office. The 1893 depression and associated drop in silver prices forced a near abandonment of the town (Lindeman et al. 1984).

The town begin to grow again in 1904, and in 1907 the Carter Mining and Milling Company's incorporation gave the town another boost. When the town applied for reinstatement of their post office in 1910, they were informed that another Carter post office had opened east of Great Falls. The town's name was changed to Keystone by 1913. Two sawmills also operated, providing additional income for the community. After about 1913, the town saw a gradual decline in population until final abandonment in the 1930's: the new post office closed in 1925; the school in 1927, and the Vendome Hotel in the late 1930's. When the town of Keystone was revisited in 1984, there were two permanent residents and nine cabins, a general store building, and the old Keystone school (Lindeman et al. 1984; Lolo National Forest 1992).

Lode deposits in the district are found in pre-Cambrian siliceous slates, belonging to the Algonkian Belt series. The mineralized zone containing veins of lead-silver, copper, antimony and gold extend for thirty miles into the Iron Mountain and Saltese districts in three distinct ore-bearing belts. Exposed formations include the Prichard slate, Burke quartzite, Revatt quartzite, St. Regis quartzite, Wallace formation, and Striped Peak (WPA 1941; Mines and Minerals 1911; Moore 1910).

BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT

The Keystone district is centered around Keystone Peak on the western end of the Ninemile Divide. The primary drainages are Keystone Creek and Slowey Gulch. Figure 1 shows the district as defined by the AMRB (1994) with a smaller area shown which encompasses the major mines.

There is no mention of the Keystone district, associated drainages or associated mines in Sahinen (1935), Wolle (1963), or Lyden (1948).

HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES

Keystone

Mining began in the district in 1887 when Phillip O'Rourke, W.B. White, John C. Cromie, Harry Boyer and Patsy Finnegan located the Keystone quartz lode. In 1891, the Keystone and King Mining Company began working the Keystone mine with 28 men and a superintendent. The ore from the Keystone was shipped to a smelter in Helena. The company reorganized in 1892 as the King Mining and Milling Company, with the previous claimants, along with George B. McAuley, John M. Keith, Auton M. Hotter, and future Oregon U.S. Senator Jonathan Bourne - a Republican who supported the free coinage of silver (Lindeman et al. 1984; Lolo National Forest 1989; 1992).

The district saw intermittent and sporadic mining from the turn of the century into the 1930's, with a slight peak from 1910 to 1915. Some limited mining continued into the 1950's. No production records were found in the mining literature (Lindeman et al. 1984; Lolo National Forest 1989; 1992).

Nancy Lee

Located in the southeast quarter of section 31, T 18N, R 26W, the mine lies on claims first filed in 1887 by John Cromie, W.B. white, Frank Tibbals, Harry Boyer, Patsy Finnagan and Phillip O'Rourke. The claims were originally called the Iron King and Iron Queen lodes, and were located about one mile east of the town of O'Rourke (Keystone). The Iron King and Iron Queen claims were reportedly among the most important of the mines developed in the district in the 1890's and early 20th, although production records were not found for this report (Lindeman et al. 1984).

The mines were sold in 1905 to Pennsylvania investors who constructed a combination sawmill and concentrating mill. The mines were again sold in 1917 to the Pitt Copper Mining Co., and consolidated with the adjoining, unpatented Cheiftan (sic) and Iron Chief claims. The 1917 plat map shows a tramway from the concentrating mill to another adjacent claim, the Ivanhoe. Production ceased in 1918, and the mine remained inactive for almost two decades, until purchase by Nancy Lee Mines, Inc., of Kellogg Idaho (Lindeman et al. 1984; Lolo National Forest 1992).

Nancy Lee Mines, Inc. shipped a small amount of ore starting in 1936. Most of the work done by the company during the late 1930's consisted of developmental work, with the primary efforts directed toward driving a 2700-foot long tunnel to tap the bottom of the shaft. In 1940, Ernie Smith, possibly associated with Nancy Lee Mines, began sending mined ores to Texas because the Montana mills could not process ores with such high antimony contents (Lindeman et al. 1984).

From 1944 into the 1950's, a "fairly impressive amount of ore was shipped annually. The Queen vein, also called the "copper vein," and the King vein, also called the "lead vein," have seen the most significant work and have yielded the most significant production. Despite producing copper, lead, zinc, silver and some gold, production ceased, probably in the 1950's, because the high costs of working a discontinuous ore body in heavy ground cut significantly into net profits (Lindeman et al. 1984; Lolo National Forest 1992).

New Idea

The New Idea Mine and the associated John E. Hartman cabins are located on unpatented claims in the southwest quarter of section 36, T 18N, R 27W. The claims were first located in 1895 by James McBride and relocated in 1902 by Edward Boyce and Dennis Reardon. McBride called the area St. Mary claim,and Boyce and Reardon renamed it the Emmet claim. Boyce and Reardon conducted a small amount of developmental work, but abandoned the claims by 1935 (Lindeman et al. 1984).

In 1935, John E. "Jack" Hartman occupied the site, and filed the "New Idea No. 1 Quartz Lode Mining Claim" and the "New Idea No. 2 Quartz Lode Mining Claim." Boyce's cabin was still standing on the property according to filing documents. Hartman appears to have been a better bootlegger than miner, mining one adit, but building at least two illegal moonshine stills, and distributing liquor as far away as Kellogg, Idaho. Hartman abandoned the mine in the 1950's, and it has apparently not been worked since then (Lindeman et al. 1984).

Other producing mines in the district include the Little Pittsburg, Night Owl and the Hopkins, the latter of which is discussed as part of the Iron Mountain district (Montana Bureau of Mines n.d.; Sahinen 1962).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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