aka Camp Creek

aka Soap Gulch

The Melrose district is located on the southwest slopes of the Highland Mountains and includes the mines in the Soap Gulch, Camp Creek and Wickiup Creek drainages. The placer claims in this district have been worked intermittently since discovery in 1866. Although not well-documented, the district had good placer potential. Along Camp Creek, a steel pipe-line was apparently abandoned before it could be utilized in a large-scale hydraulic operation. A placer operation on a low saddle between Camp Creek and Rochester Basin recovered several thousand dollars in gold (Sahinen 1939).

A few silver mines were located in the upper part of the district. The principal properties were the Pandora and the Emma Nevada, on the northwest side of Soap Gulch and the Old Glory, one mile north of the Emma Nevada. Horn silver, netting $46,000, was dug from the shallow workings from the Emma Nevada lode. In 1900 the closure of the nearby Glendale Smelter of the Hecla Consolidated Mining Company hastened the decline of district. The company had provided a market for the local lead and silver ore (Sahinen 1939; Wolle 1963).

Melrose is on alluvium deposited by the Big Hole River. Eastward are eroded bench lands composed of flat-lying Tertiary deposits of sand, gravel, clay, and volcanic ash. Paleozoic limestones crop out in the foothills farther east. They strike northwest and dip from 45 degrees to 60 degrees southwest. The Paleozoic section includes all formations from the Flathead to the Madison inclusive. Archean schist and quartzite of the Belt series occupy the area east of the Paleozoic rocks to the head of the creeks. Small stocks of quartz monzonite intrude other rocks in Soap Gulch and about four miles up Camp Creek. The Clipper Group, on Wickiup Creek, is in Belt slates and strides northwest and dips 30 degrees northeast. It is 4 to 10 feet wide. The ore consists of malachite, azurite, cuprite, and chalcopyrite in quartz in the oxidized zone and chalcopyrite and pyrite in quartz in the sulphide zone. Igneous rocks are exposed in this vicinity (Winchell 1914; Sahinen 1935).

From 1909 to 1911, the district shipped 504,194 pounds of ore from Soap Gulch. At the smelter the ore returned .69% copper, and 1.43 ounces of silver and 2.63 ounces of gold per ton. Most of the ore came from an incline shaft north of the Gold King mine (Winchell 1914).


Winchell (1914) discusses the Camp Creek and Soap Creek districts, but recognized that they could be described together as part of a larger Melrose district. The Camp Creek district forms the southern boundary of Silver Bow County. Soap Creek is wholly in Silver Bow County.

Sahinen (1935) places the district northeast of Melrose, a station on the Oregon Short Line Railroad (now the Union Pacific) about 28 miles south of Butte. It is drained by Camp and Soap Creeks, two tributaries of the Big Hole River.

Figure 1 shows the AMRB (1994) boundaries of the district with the Camp Creek and Soap Gulch sub-districts as described by Sahinen (1935) and Winchell (1914).



The Calvin is located on a north flowing drainage of Camp Creek on the south end of a reef that produced large amounts of lead and silver in the 1870s and 1880s. The property then lay idle until 1925 when it was returned to steady production by the Commonwealth Mining Company of Salt Lake. Production came from the old workings which ran 400 feet under the crest of the mountain. Carbonate and galena ore was pulled from a 110 foot deep inclined winze. In 1930 the mine shipped ore from the old workings that ran $1.20 in gold per ton, 14.8 ounces of silver per ton, 23% lead and high values of copper and zinc. At the time a new 5 x 7 foot adit was being driven into the hill 700 feet below the old workings and had reached 280 feet without reaching the ore body. The adit was projected to reach ore at 900 to 1,300 feet. The new workings were designed to save a quarter mile of steep haulage and its associated costs

(Mining Truth


Clipper Group

The Clipper group is located on the north fork of Camp Creek, the fork is known as Wickiup ("Wickeyup" in the historic literature) Creek. The Clipper vein was opened by a 300 foot shaft. Ores from the mine carried as much as 25% copper in the form of malachite, azurite and cuprite (Winchell 1914).

Emma Nevada

The Emma Nevada is located in NW section 6, T2S, R8W on the northwest side of Soap Gulch half a mile north of the Gold King. The mine is located in gray argillites of the Belt series and was reported to have netted $46,000 from horn-silver from shallow workings less than 50 feet deep. The ore body was reported to have been cut off by a talc-like deposit. The mine produced $46,000 of horn silver from shallow workings (Winchell 1914; Sahinen 1939).

Gold King

The Gold King is located near the east side line of section 1, T2S, R9W in Soap Gulch near the base of Paleozoic shales about two miles southwest of the Pandora. The main ore body was a nearly vertical spiral, chimney-shaped mass with a reported diameter of .5 to 10 feet. The ore became lean toward the margin with an increase in the amount of iron oxide. Ore was removed from this chimney for 140 vertical feet by a series of adits separated by 50, 55 and 40 feet. The uppermost adit, known as the Winze Tunnel, was connected by a winze on the ore body to a stope at the end of the next lower adit. The lower adit was 260 feet long with a 75 foot raise at 200 feet from the portal; 9 tons of ore were removed from a stope 30 feet up this raise. The middle adit was 100 feet long and did not connect with the other workings. In 1909 to 1911 the mine shipped 252 tons of ore that averaged .69 percent copper, 1.43 ounces of silver and 2.63 ounces of gold per ton. (Winchell 1914; Sahinen 1939).

A inclined shaft 150 feet long was sunk a third of a mile north of the Gold King. It was reported that 200 tons of horn-silver ore taken out of this shaft netted $13,000 (Winchell 1914).


Located on Camp Creek on the north side of the Calvin mine, the Jackrabbit mine was established in 1927. The mine is about .75 miles north of the Calvin and worked the same reef. It was extensively developed in 1929 by the Standard Silver Lead Company of Spokane. Some ore was shipped before the company dropped its option

(Mining Truth


King and Queen

The King and Queen claims are located on the plateau between Camp and Soap creeks. Iron ores were extracted from "blanket leads" in quartzite. The ore was used as flux in the nearby Glendale smelter prior to 1900 (Winchell 1914).

Old Glory

The Old Glory is located on a hilltop about a mile north of the Emma Nevada. The mine was reported to have yielded about $100,000. The ore was cut off in a similar manner as the Emma Nevada (Winchell 1914; Sahinen 1939).


The Pandora mine is located just below the flat-lying quartzite of the top of the ridge between Camp and Soap Creeks and overlooks Soap Gulch. The mine provided fluxing ore for the Glendale smelter (Winchell 1914).


The Peabody mine is located on the extreme north end of the Calvin reef in Camp Creek. The mine was located in the early 1870s and $750,000 was taken from surface workings. The ore body was worked for a distance of 600 feet and a depth of 80 feet. Some of the ore bodies were reported to be 10 feet thick. The mine shipped large quantities of ore that returned 70% lead and 50 ounces of silver per ton

(Mining Truth



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


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