The Cramer Creek mining district is located on the south slope of the Garnet Mountain range just north of the town of Bonita. The district encompasses the Cramer Creek drainage, a tributary of the Clark Fork River. The principal mine of the district was the Blacktail which produced silver, lead, zinc, and copper ores between 1947 and 1955. The first sink-float plant in Montana was built on the property.

The ore deposit at the Blacktail mine consisted of replacements in a crystalline, magnesian limestone, probably of Cambrian age. The ore occurs as masses of galena carrying nearly an ounce of silver, one percent of lead and a trace of gold per ton (Sahinen 1957).


Sahinen (1957) considered the Blacktail mine as located within the Copper Cliff mining district. Sanders & Winn (1994) commented that "a literature search failed to obtain evidence that would justify a 'Cramer Creek' Historic Mining District." Figure 1 shows the Cramer Creek district as defined by the AMRB (1994).



The Arrowhead property is in Section 3, T11N, R16W, about one mile north of Bonita. Small amounts of oxidized manganese ore were shipped from the mine in 1917 and 1918 by A. B. Cook. He did some development work in 1941, but no records of production are available. In 1954 Mallow & Christman shipped manganese ore to the National Stockpile in Butte, and in 1956 the Pioneer Corporation operated the mine and shipped concentrate averaging 41.1 percent manganese with a gross value of over $100,000. The ore was mined in an open pit and was hauled to the Blacktail mill, five miles farther up the creek. The deposit consisted of pyrolusite and wad that filled open spaces in badly faulted Paleozoic limestone (Sahinen 1957).


The Blacktail mine (also known as the Linton mine) was located about 4.5 miles up Cramer Creek in Section 30, T12N, R15W. The mine was opened by the Hecla Mining Company in 1947, and milled 65 tons of ore containing silver and lead. Between 1949 and 1953, the Linton Mining Company (Thomas J. Linton) operated the property, and in 1949 the company built a 500-ton sink-float plant, the first in Montana, on the property. While Linton was operating the mine it was an open pit in which a bulldozer pushed broken ore to a hillside ore chute. From there the ore rolled downhill to the mill. The Blacktail mine closed in the fall of 1953 because of high operating costs and a drop in the price of lead. In 1954 lessees Paul Page and George Mongar milled old tailings at the mine to produce 14 ounces silver and 6,200 pounds lead. Between 1947 and 1955 (no figures available for some years), the mine produced 6,487 ounces silver; 3,336,170 pounds lead; 26,700 pounds zinc; and 1,300 pounds copper (Sahinen 1957).


The Chloride mine is a lead-silver deposit located three miles southwest of Copper Cliff on Cramer Creek in Section 20, T12N, R15W. The country rock is a dark-gray or blue limestone and along one or more zones the rocks were fractured or crushed and the limestone was extensively replaced by silica. The ore of which only a few shipments were made is fine-grained galena, more or less altered to carbonate (Pardee 1918).


The Gypsy mine, located on the West Fork of Cramer Creek, was a copper prospect located on a loose fault breccia of quartzite (Pardee 1918).


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

Pardee, J. T.

1918 "Ore Deposits of the Northwestern Part of the Garnet Range, Mont."

Contributions to Economic Geology (Short Papers and Preliminary Reports), 1917

. Washington: U. S. Geological Survey.

Sahinen, Uuno M.

1957 "Mines and Mineral Deposits, Missoula and Ravalli Counties, Montana." Bull. 8, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology.

Sanders, Darrell, and Maureen Winn

1994 "Cultural Resource Inventory Report for the BLM-Plum Creek Land Exchange (Formerly BLM-Champion Land Exchange)." Prepared by the Bureau of Land Management.Alice Virginia