aka Kennedy Creek


The Nine Mile Creek or Kennedy Creek mining district is located in Missoula County and encompasses the drainage of Ninemile Creek and its tributaries. Ninemile Creek is a tributary of the Clark Fork River, which it enters about four miles west of Huson. Since 1874, placers were worked on Kennedy, Josephine Creek, St. Louis Gulch, Eustache Gulch, Pine Creek, Marion Creek, McCormick Creek, Dry Gulch, and Ninemile Creek. Ninemile Creek had the principal placers and had been worked three miles upstream from Camp Creek. The total production for the district since 1908 was valued at over $480,000, almost all of that in gold (Sahinen 1957; Sahinen 1962). Lode mines contained lead, gold, and silver and were located on Upper Kennedy Creek and near the head of Ninemile Creek about 18 miles above its mouth.

The surficial geology was created by Glacial Lake Missoula about 15,000 years ago as an ice dam was formed and backed water up through much of the Clark Fork River valley as well as land to the east. When the ice dam failed, Glacial Lake Missoula emptied through the Clark Fork Valley in just a few days, releasing the greatest flood of known geologic record. This process occurred repeatedly, each time resulting in colossal floods and creating deep canyons and other topographic features. The Ninemile fault defines the north side of the Missoula and Ninemile valleys (Alt and Hyndman 1986).

The best placer ground was located on the small creeks tributary to Ninemile Creek, such as the Kennedy Creek placer. The placer gold deposits seemed to line the floor of the valley in the form of a sheet whose continuity was interrupted by bedrock outcrops and stream-eroded areas. The deposits are best developed on the tributary streams, all of which carry gold. The source of the gold in the placers was unknown in 1948 (Rowe 1911b; Lyden 1948; Schrader 1911).

In 1860 Frank Worden and C. P. Higgins established a trading post at Hell's Gate, which formed the nucleus of a small village on the Mullan Road. Built 1859-62, the Mullan Road connected Fort Benton and Walla Walla and indirectly made possible the mining development of western Montana because of increased ease of access via the road and because large numbers of men came into the area during the construction of the Mullan Road and the Jocko Agency. Prospectors were drawn through the Missoula valley and Hells' Gate on their way to the mines at Wild Horse Creek in British Columbia.

The town of Missoula was established in the winter of 1864-65 by the building of a sawmill and grist mill and business house by Worden & Co. Frenchtown was established in 1864. In response to the market for food in the placer gold mining camps in the 1860s in Montana and in Idaho, the Missoula valley was developed for agriculture. Missoula became a distribution center for goods since it was at the junction of five valleys (Leeson 1885; Coon 1926).

The Ninemile valley was used as a shortcut by miners heading for the strikes along the Kootenai River that became active around 1865. Ninemile was named for the Nine Mile House, located near the junction of the Ninemile Creek and the Mullan Road (it was nine miles west of Frenchtown). By 1911 the county wagon road extended up Ninemile Creek to St. Louis Creek, the head of the placer workings (Schrader 1911; Omundson 1961; Ryan & McLeod n.d.).

In 1874 placer gold was discovered in Ninemile Creek. This started a rush to the area, mainly along Ninemile Creek and each of its two main forks (St. Louis and Eustache Gulches). A mining camp called Montreal (also known as Old Town) was located at the junction of the two gulches, and another was located on O'Keefe Canyon, east of Frenchtown. A third camp was located near the San Martina mine, at the northwest end of the Ninemile valley, and was called Martina. Since then, placer mining in the area was steady although not too extensive. By 1877 about 2.25 miles of Ninemile Creek was patented. Some of the claims yielded as much as $100 per day per man. At the peak of the boom in the Ninemile, thousands of miners were working there. The boom had ended by 1879, when the population of the mining camp was only 60 people. Chinese miners recovered gold from dumps abandoned by Euroamerican miners. The total amount of gold recovered from the district was reportedly worth several million dollars. Between 1904 and 1946, over $337,000 in placer gold was recovered (Lyden 1948; Sahinen 1935; Wolle 1963; Ryan & McLeod n.d.; Leeson 1885; Raymond 1877).

The gold placers on Ninemile Creek were contained in a belt about three miles wide and 14 miles long, extending from Kennedy Creek to a short distance above Montreal. The deposits were best developed on the tributary streams, all of which carry gold. Dry-land dredges were used on some claims to wash the gold free from clay (the clay was a particular problem on Kennedy Creek). Based on advice from C. F. Schroeder of the USGS, the Kennedy Creek Gold Mining Company installed an electric dredge in approximately 1909, but the operation failed to break down the matrix of blue clay holding the gold in a glacial ground moraine. Hydraulic mining was tried on St. Louis Creek in the 1920s, but the results were also not impressive. After the early period, some of the properties were not worked because of a lack of sufficient water. Others produced continuously on a small scale for many years, such as properties on McCormick Creek, Dutch Creek, Beecher Creek, and Kennedy Creek. The principal route of the gold was from the Martina City stamp mill to Lewiston, Idaho, via a wagon road that followed Ninemile Creek to Siegel Pass and on to Paradise on the Clark Fork. Some of the most active properties in the 1920s and 1930s were the McCormick, Dutch, Beecher, and Kennedy Creek (Sahinen 1935; Schrader 1911; Ryan & McLeod n.d.; Lyden 1948; Sahinen 1935).

In 1908 the placer gold from Ninemile Creek and its tributaries had an average fineness of 0.980. The placers were worked mainly by hydraulicking and sluicing. Chinese miners leased some of the properties in the district beginning in approximately 1908. According to a 1910 report, the gold nuggets from the district were in demand and were sold to jewelers and tourists. There was little production after 1915 (Sahinen 1957; Wolle 1963).

In 1941 dragline dredges were operated on Nine Mile, Josephine and McCormick Creeks, recovering 2,858 ounces of gold. The rest of the placer gold in the district came from sluicing operations. In 1942 most of the placer output again came from a dryland dredge until all placer operations were suspended for the duration of World War II (Sahinen 1957).

In 1946 total district placer production was worth almost $80,000, obtained by a dragline dredge, hydraulicking, and sluicing. In 1947 a dragline dredge recovered gold and silver on Ninemile and McCormick Creeks. A dragline dredge was also operated on Ninemile Creek in 1948. A placer on Josephine Creek made a "substantial contribution" to the placer gold production of Montana in 1953, and more gold and some silver was recovered in 1954 (Sahinen 1957).

No lode mining was being done in the Ninemile Creek drainage basin or its tributaries in 1948. In 1955, however, nine tons of gold ore was produced in the Nine Mile district (Sahinen 1957; Lyden 1948).


Raymond (1877) reported the Nine Mile Creek district as located about 27 miles from the mouth of the creek. Schrader (1911) described the Ninemile district as extending northwesterly from Kennedy Creek up the Ninemile Creek valley nearly to its head (16 miles). Rowe (1941) described the Nine Mile Creek district as located 12 miles northwest of Huson. Wolle (1963) defined the district as the area drained by Ninemile Creek and its tributaries.

According to Sahinen (1935):

From Kennedy Creek the Ninemile district extends up Ninemile Creek valley for 16 miles...The gold placers are in a mid-valley belt extending about 14 miles from Kennedy Creek to several miles above Martina.

Figure 1 shows the AMRB (1994) boundaries of the Nine Mile district which is similar to the definitions given by Raymond (1877) and Wolle (1963). A smaller area is shown as described by Sahinen (1935) which is the area of the major placers.


Placer Mines

Gold placers extended up the Nine Mile valley 16 miles. In 1909 some of the active gold placers were the Chrysalis, Kennedy Creek, Tom Tom, and Slide. In 1911, the Kennedy Creek (which had a dredge for a short time), Pine Creek, Marion Creek, and McCormick Creek were producing placers. In 1919 the Big Boulder was also mentioned. In 1921 the Boyd (on Eustache Creek) and San Pit placers were also mentioned. In 1930 the Golden Snake in Dry Gulch was mentioned (Wolle 1963; Sahinen 1957).

In 1939 a power shovel and a dryland washer was operated on the Boyd placer, and other producing placers were the Barrett, Chrysalis, Hard Chance, Imperial, Kennedy Creek, Little Marion, Marion Creek, Oro, and The Bench (Rowe 1941; Sahinen 1957).

The Boyd placer reported activity in the years 1921-23, 1930-31, 1934-35, and 1939-40 (Mineral Resources 1921-23, 1930-31; Mineral Yearbook 1934-35, 1939-40).

The Chrysalis placer reported activity in the years 1909-10, 1912-16, 1919, 1921-22, 1934- 35, and 1940 (Mineral Resources 1909-10, 1912-16, 1919, 1921-22; Mineral Yearbook 1934-35, 1940).

The Marion Creek placer reported activity in the years 1911, 1921-22, 1925, 1927, 1934-35, and 1940 (Mineral Resources 1911, 1921-22, 1925, 1927; Mineral Yearbook 1934-35, 1940).

The Petty Creek placer reported activity in 1916, 1918-19, 1921, 1931, and 1934 (Mineral Resources 1916, 1918-19, 1921, 1931; Mineral Yearbook 1934).

The Pine Creek placer reported activity in 1911, 1914-16, and 1919 (Mineral Resources 1911, 1914-16, 1919).

The Slide placer reported activity in 1909-10, 1912-16, and 1939 (Mineral Resources 1909- 10, 1912-16; Mineral Yearbook 1939).

The Tom Tom placer reported activity in 1909-10, 1913, 1916, and 1918 (Mineral Resources 1909-10, 1913, 1916, 1918).

Frances Copper

The Frances Copper mine is located on St. Louise Creek, a headwater tributary of Nine Mile Creek. In the 1950s Thomas, Miller, Waylett, and O'Clare were developing the property by bulldozer and diamond drilling. The vein bears some copper with a traces of silver and gold (Sahinen 1957).


The Hauttula is a copper prospect about 1/2 mile above the Lost Cabin group. Oliver Hauttula developed it with a 150-foot adit. Material from a branch of the vein assayed 0.03 ounce gold and 0.7 ounce silver per ton and 3.5 percent copper. Small shipments of ore were made to the Nancy Lee Mill near Superior (Sahinen 1957).


The Josephine mine was being developed in 1909. It had ore containing copper, silver, and lead (Sahinen 1957).

Kennedy Creek

The Kennedy Gold Mining Company mined along the creek in 1908 and 1909 and had a large dredging operation. The Kennedy Creek lode mine shipped zinc-lead ore in 1943 direct to the Bunker Hill and Sullivan smelter in Idaho and the Midvale concentrator in Utah. This mine and three placers produced 55 tons of ore valued at $1,556 (Sahinen 1957; Omundson 1961).

Lost Cabin

The Lost Cabin mine, a group of six unpatented claims, was located on Kennedy Creek about three miles upstream from Nine Mile Creek. The minerals include galena, sphalerite, pyrite, chalcopyrite, pyrrhotite, covellite, quartz, and iron oxides and occur in several veins in banded gray argillite. Several adits developed the mine with several hundred feet of workings. The operator, Art Lawson of Huson, shipped about 480 tons of ore to the Nancy Lee mill near Superior (Sahinen 1957; Sahinen 1962).

Nine Mile

The Nine Mile mine was located adjacent to the San Martina mine 18 miles up Nine Mile Creek from Highway 10 and was accessible by road from Huson. The Nine Mile mine was opened about 1890. In 1892 the mine was being developed by the Nine Mile Mining Company and employed 20 men. Two years later it was opened by a 230-foot shaft and a 519-foot drift. An aerial tramway transported the free-milling gold ore 1,100 feet to a 10-stamp mill at the foot of the hill. The company operated the mine about 15 years, and lessees subsequently operated it sporadically. (Wolle 1963; Sahinen 1957).

In 1910 and 1911 the mine produced ore that was treated in a 20-stamp amalgamation plant, and it also could treat ore by cyanidation. Between 1912 and 1915 the Nine Mile and Martina mines produced 10,649 tons of ore that yielded gold and silver bullion. From 1915 until 1953 the production from the mine was negligible (Mineral Resources 1910-11, 1913- 15; Sahinen 1957; Wolle 1963).

In 1953 William Lamon and Lloyd Allen started working the property but experienced difficulty treating the ore, due to the heavy barite in the ore that scours the amalgamation plates. The ore consisted of pyrite and hematite with about $35.00 per ton in gold. Workings included five adit levels up to 2,000 feet in length. In 1954 William Lamon amalgamated a small amount of gold ore from the mine (Sahinen 1957).

The country rock in the mine area is brownish and greenish Beltian argillite (Sahinen 1957).


In 1912 the Provisional and the San Martina mines produced 2,255 tons of ore that yielded gold bullion by amalgamation (Sahinen 1957).

San Martina

The San Martina mine (also called the Martina) was located adjacent to the Nine Mile mine 18 miles up Ninemile Creek and was accessible by road from Huson. The mine was opened about 1890 and was developed by the Nine Mile Mining Company for nearly 15 years, after which it was worked by lessees. An aerial tramway carried the free-milling gold to a stamp mill in the valley. Between 1912 and 1915 the Nine Mile and Martina mines produced 10,649 tons of ore that yielded gold and silver bullion. In 1919 the mine produced low- grade gold ore that was treated by amalgamation. In 1939 several cars of gold ore were shipped from the mine that yielded 95 ounces of gold and 34 ounces of silver (Rowe 1941; Wolle 1963; Sahinen 1957).


Abandoned Mine Reclamation Bureau (AMRB)

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