aka (also referred to as part of the Saltese district - see Denemora district)


The Packer Creek district, an area of moderate mineral production, is located south of the Coeur d'Alene Mountains and north of the St. Regis River. The mines of the district are in the drainages of Packer, Timber and Sarenec Creeks, all south flowing tributaries of the St. Regis. Saltese was the main community serving the Packer Creek mines and Haugen, six miles to the east, was the primary supply location for the Saranec and Timber Creek mines. Both Haugen and Saltese were stations on the Northern Pacific and Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroads. The district is known for its lode mining, although some placer mining was undoubtedly conducted (Sahinen 1935; Dingman 1932).

There is little information on this district in the mining literature, but it is likely that the development of the district is closely related to the development of the Northern Pacific and Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroads and the town of Saltese, which came into existence prior to 1891. The area was first visited by packers, trappers and prospectors who named Packer Creek after Randolf Packer, and originally called Saltese "Packers Meadow." Most of the mines occur two to five miles north or northwest of Saltese, along the fracture zone caused by the Osborn fault (Sahinen 1935; Wolle 1963).

Sometime before 1891, Colonel Meyers, a "veteran of several wars," built the St. Regis House on Packer's Meadow to service travelers, freighters and stagecoaches using the Mullen Road. The village which grew up around the inn became known as Silver City, and was an important supplier for the mines in the Packer Creek and Denemora districts as well as for placer mines across the pass in Idaho. In 1891 the name of the town was changed to Saltese after a Nez Perce chief. In addition to supplying mining operations, Saltese was an important lumber town and boasted eleven saloons around the turn of the century. The 1910 forest fire in the Coeur d'Alene forests forced the abandonment of several small mining towns and seriously threatened Saltese, but the town was successfully defended, and is still occupied today (Wolle 1963; Sahinen 1935).

The mines saw slight fluorescences in the mid-1910's and mid-1920's, as evidenced by production reports, although apparently not enough to be highlighted in the literature. This growth is reflected in the fact that in 1914 Mineral County was carved out of the western part of Missoula County. There was something of a competition between Saltese and Superior for the position of county seat. Unfortunately, the early mines on the west side of the county, such as the Tarbox and Last Chance, were not as successful as the mines on the east side, such as the Iron Mountain, Keystone and Amador, and Superior was named the county seat (Sahinen 1957; Montana Bureau of Mines n.d.; Lindeman, et al., 1984).

The area is underlain by the quartzites of the Ravalli group of the Belt series. The Osborn fault zone, a structure which stretches from Spokane, Washington to Deer Lodge, runs east west through the center of the district, and has produced extreme crushing of the Belt series (Sahinen 1935; Journal of Geology 1924).

The ore deposits are located in fissure veins which trend generally east-west, with a predominant distribution of galena. Argentiferous tetrahedrite is also abundant with a generally high silver content. Copper, present as tetrahedrite and chalcopyrite, and gold are also present in moderate concentrations. The usual gangue materials are quartz and siderite. Barite runs along a one-foot vein parallel to the West Fork of Packer Creek, and is typified at the Last Chance Mine (Calkins and Jones 1914; Sahinen 1935).


Sahinen (1935) notes that the district includes Packer Creek, a south flowing tributary of the St. Regis River, and that the creek and river converge at the town of Saltese. He includes mines up to five miles north of Saltese.

Lyden (1948) makes no mention of the creek or the district.

The district as defined by the AMRB (1994) appears to be bounded on the north by the Coeur d'Alene Mountains, on the west by Mullen Pass, and on the south by the St. Regis River. Figure 1 shows the district as defined by the AMRB with the Packer Creek district as defined by Sahinen (1935) also shown. This area could be considered as a sub-district of the AMRB district.


Ben Hur

The Ben Hur is located in section 23, T 20N, R 31W, on a small tributary of Packer Creek about three miles north of Saltese. It is situated on ground between the Last Chance and the Bell prospects. The mine was developed by three adits. The Ben Hur mine was said to have produced both gold and silver in appreciable amounts. However, no production records are mentioned in the literature, and no ore shipments are recorded. By 1914, the mine had not been worked for "several years" and the workings, including an 1,100-foot tunnel were inaccessible (Calkins and Jones 1914; Wolle 1963; Sahinen 1935).

Black Traveler

Located near the Saltese Consolidated mine in section 4, T 19N, R 30W, the Black Traveler mine was claimed by Oliver S. Roof on August 19, 1887. The mine operated intermittently through the 1930's, but never produced a significant amount of high-grade ore as evidenced by its failure to appear in state mining reports. However, there apparently was enough promise that Roof formed the Black Traveler Copper Mining Company in 1906. In 1933 the unpatented claim was relocated by Hazel M. Field and worked by William Poorman, one of Roof's original partners. In 1939, Poorman and a "small force of men" conducted exploratory developments, extending workings by 2400 feet and revealing "good copper." However, additional production was apparently not forthcoming (Lindeman et al. 1984).

Bryan Group

The Bryan property is located in section 28, T 20N, R 31W, on the West Fork of Packer Creek and was connected to Saltese by five miles of wagon road. It was first claimed in 1896 by Thomas Lynch. By 1907, Charles Burns and Eugene Day became the "successors in interest" of Lynch's holdings, and they were awarded a patent in 1908.

Work was interrupted in 1910 by the forest fire which threatened much of the region, but development work was reported as continuing in late 1910. Mining activity was considered developmental by the State Inspector of Mines, and by 1910, twelve men had driven the main tunnel to 1,100 feet. The mine had three adits had a vertical range of 500 feet and had a combined 2,500 feet of horizontal development. The lower adit was connected to the middle adit by a raise. The ore recovered contained silver, lead and some copper, but was primarily a lead ore. Some ore samples were reported to assay 38 percent lead and 16.8 ounces of silver to the ton, but these were exceptional examples. Samples selected in 1962 reported galena, sphalerite, chalcopyrite, tetrahedrite and pyrite in a gangue of quartz, calcite and siderite. The mine does not appear to have been a steady producer and probably shut down during the 1910's. When the mine was revisited in 1984, all of the adits had collapsed, and there were no standing structures (Calkins and Jones 1914; Lindeman et al. 1984; Lolo National Forest 1992; Sahinen 1935 and 1962).

East Coeur d'Alene

The East Coeur d'Alene mine is located in section 10, T 19N, R 30W. The East Coeur d'Alene Mining Company was incorporated in 1910 and may have conducted mining at this time, but no mineral survey was conducted and no production records exist (Lindeman et al. 1984).

Last Chance

The Last Chance mine is located in section 34, T 20N, R 31W, on a tributary of Packer Creek about three miles north of Saltese. The Last Chance lode claim was filed in November 1893 by George Champagne, James Laundriz and James Whelan. Construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad through the St. Regis Valley in 1890-1891 allowed for profitable development of the mine, although wagon trains and pack strings were still used to move ore between the railroad and mines. By 1908, the claims were patented, and the mine boasted discovery shafts and adits, but no structures or buildings. By 1910 the mine employed six men who developed a 600-foot long tunnel which yielded marketable silver and lead ores, although more development than production was still being conducted. In August 1910, the great Bitterroot/Coeur d'Alene fire swept through the property, destroying the camp and causing tunnels to collapse as the timbers at the entrance burned. Little or no work was conducted until the late 1930's when Day Mines, Inc. of Wallace, Idaho acquired the Last Chance, Ben Hur and Bryan Mines. In 1939 the Last Chance resumed operations with three employees, as mineral prices rose with the onset of World War II. Sizeable shipments were sent from the Last Chance in 1940, 1943 and 1951, but the mine proved unprofitable and shut down in the mid-1950's (Sahinen 1935; Lindeman et al. 1984; Montana Bureau of Mines n.d.)

The mine has produced galena, silver, copper, and some gold, as well as lying along the barite vein which runs through the district in a one-foot vein parallel to the West Fork of Packer Creek. The mine yielded a net profit of $200,000 from silver and lead, most of the yield occurring prior to 1910. The mine is reported as being within the Denemora district, according to some of the literature (WPA 1941); Sahinen 1935; Wolle 1963; Lindeman, et al., 1984).

Saltese Consolidated

The Saltese Consolidated mine is located in section 4, T 19N, R 30W. Mining appears to have begun sometime after 1911 since no activity is noted on the 1911 GLO plat map. The Saltese Consolidated mining Company incorporated on March 4, 1911, with operations based in Mullan, Idaho and Saltese. Operations have continued sporadically to the present day, producing copper, lead and zinc (Lindeman et al. 1984).


The Tarbox mine, located in section 35, T 20N, R 31W, was one of the largest operations in the district and in western Mineral County. Despite that fact, no ore was shipped from the mine.

E.K. Tarbox and William Daxon located the Alice Caray (Cary) and Ada claims in 1893 and 1897, respectively. They incorporated as the Tarbox Mining Company on July 19, 1900, with a largely Idaho-based board of directors, and acquired other claims in the area between 1900 and 1907. The initial discovery and interest in the mine contributed significantly to the growth of the town of Saltese. In 1904, the company's assets totaled $1841.93 in buildings and improvements and $275.64 in cash, while their liabilities totaled $4903.39, of which $1801.54 was secured by a mortgage for their Ledgerwood 8 x 10 foot steam hoist and other machinery. During the mid-to-late 1900's, the mine employed 30 men, and the company had plans to construct a 150-ton concentrator for reduction of lead-silver ore. Miners reported that the main vein in the shaft reportedly measured 8 to 20 feet in width. An analysis of samples taken in 1962 found galena, sphalerite and other lead minerals, but no silver-bearing inclusions (Lindeman et al. 1984).

When the 1910 fire which swept through the area it blew through the Tarbox mining camp destroying all buildings and structures. The mine was abandoned and the shaft quickly filled with water. Creditors and suppliers were soon demanding debt repayment which the company could not repay, and the mine lay idle for several years. In 1916, 16 men worked in two shifts to drain the shaft. Expenses ran about $2,000 per month. Structures were rebuilt and the company held renewed hopes that the concentrator would be built. However, after many years of development, the concentrator was not built, and the mine owners realized the mine would not be profitable. The mine shut down in 1922 and was allowed to fill with water. No ore was ever marketed from the Tarbox Mine (Lindeman et al. 1984).


The Wabash mine is located several hundred feet south of the Tarbox and one quarter of a mile west of Meadow Mountain, in section 35, T 20N, R 31W. The mine was first claimed in March 1903 by W.J. Small and M.M. Johnson, and amended in 1907 by Small. Some developmental work was conducted at this time, but there is no evidence of production. The mine was relocated in the late 1910's by the Tarbox Mining Company and most of the holdings were consolidated under the name Tarbox Fraction (Lindeman et al. 1984).

More intensive development was not conducted until the 1920's or 1930's, and production appears to have been limited. A 1956 USGS bulletin reported that there was no information about the Wabash vein. The mine, along with the Meadow Mountain and Tarbox mines, were purchased in the 1950's by the Mineral King Mining Company of Missoula, and the mine was renamed the Wabash in 1972. Only annual assessment work has been conducted at the mine since the 1950's (Lindeman et al. 1984).

Other important mines in the district include the Bell, Hugo (a copper producer), Syndicate, Copper Rock, Meadow Mountain, U.S., and Hemlock. The Silver Cable mine reported production in 1919, 1926 and 1928, and was apparently worth some note in various mining journals as a producer of zinc (Calkins and Jones 1914; Mining Journal; Mining & Engineering World; Montana Bureau of Mines n.d.; Sahinen 1935; Wolle 1963).


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