The Moose Creek mining district is located on the west slope of the Highland Mountains along Moose Creek, a west flowing tributary of the Big Hole River. The mines within the Moose Creek district were north and northwest of Moosetown, one of a number of small mining camps in the Highlands. The earliest developments, the Harvey, Day, and Ben Seymore lodes were discovered in 1867 on the bench north of Moose Creek. These mines produced incredibly rich gold ore, two 10-ton lots yielded $400 per ton, although they were not so rich as those on Fish Creek (Wolle 1963).

Moosetown, sprang to life around 1866 but never developed beyond a few log cabins (Hamilton 1977). In the summer of 1871, these sluice placers were returning $10 per man per day in gold. The next year the total placer output was listed at $2,000. The most important mine in the Twentieth century was the Gold Hill or Free Gold property (Raymond 1872; Sahinen 1935;Wolle 1963).

The geology of this district is very similar to that of the Highland district. Paleozoic sediments are in contact with the granite of the Boulder batholith. The mines are in the paleozoic limestone or in the adjoining granite, north and northwest of the deserted settlement of Moosetown. The ores contained chlorides and sulphides of silver and some gold bearing quartz. The deposits are irregular and yield uncertain returns (Sahinen 1935).


Sahinen (1935) places the district at the head of Moose Creek adjacent to but on the other side of the hill from the Highland district. Figure 1 shows the district as defined by Sahinen (1935) and includes the Gold Hill mine, which the AMRB (1994) boundaries place in the Highland district. The Gold Hill is generally included as part of the Moose Creek developments.



The Dixie lode was discovered in 1870. In 1871 the mine was in the hands of Parks and Dickey. The mine was developed by a 150 foot inclined shaft which exposed good gold/quartz ore. In 1872 two men worked the mine and removed 280 tons of ore which yielded $14 per ton. The mine continued to be a good producer of ore through 1874 when the district was last reported by Raymond (Raymond 1872; Sahinen 1950)

Gold Hill (Montreal Group)

The Gold Hill mine or Montreal group is located near the center of section 12, T1 S, R8W about 1.5 miles southeast of Moosetown. The group consists of the Montreal, Monitor and Eclipse claims. The property was worked from 1909 to 1912 and again in 1915 and 1916. In 1911 and 1916 the mine was listed as one of the district's major producers.

The mine was developed by a main adit with crosscuts and stopes; an inclined shaft and an open stope. The open stope was located 80 feet southeast of the incline and measured 50 feet long, 20 feet wide and 7 feet high. This stope appears to the source of most of the mine's production.

The mine's ore carried about $1.05 in gold and 0.10 ounces of silver per ton.

A 75-ton cyanidation mill was built at the Gold hill mine in 1909. The mill consisted of a Blake crusher, 3 Huntington mills, 6 Spitz-Kasten classifiers, 11 cyanidation tanks and gravity filters. The mill operated at a capacity of 60 tons per day in 1910 and 1911. The remains of an undocumented 10 stamp mill were also observed on the property in 1935 (Sahinen 1950).

Harvey, Day and Ben Seymore Lodes

The Harvey group of claims is located in section 9, TlS, R8W about .75 mile southwest of the old town of Moosetown. The three claims together were the first lode mine in the district. The mine was discovered and actively worked in 1867, but litigation between the owners closed the mine after only one year of production. The ore was sent to the Ballarat mill in the Highland district, but several special carloads were shipped to the Argenta smelters. Raymond 1872 describes the mines in some detail:

"The original locators of these lodes first sank a shaft following down from the surface croppings upon the Harvey lode, and finding a well-defined vein of rich ore, they went below on the face of the hill and drove in a tunnel which tapped the vein at a depth of 80 feet. At the point where the tunnel intersects the vein, the ore is about 5 feet thick and of very rich and excellent quality.

"The quartz is what is known as free-milling, containing no base metals. It is full of rich sulphurets and chlorides of silver, and contains also ruby silver. There are large quantities of black sulphurets found all through the ore.

"The average assay of all rock removed is near $400 per ton, the lowest being $200 and reaching as high as $3,500 per ton.

"Some 200 tons of ore have been taken from the drift heretofore mentioned. Ten tons of first class ore were sold to G. W. Stapleton at $100 per ton, on the dump, and hauled to Argenta where the same was worked. . . yielding about $375 per ton. Ten tons were sold to S. H. Bohm & Company for $200 per ton, on the dump and also worked in Argenta. . . This lot yielded about $400 per ton. One hundred tons of second class ore were worked in a gold mill at Red Mountain City six miles from these mines by Professor Swallow and yielded about $200 per ton.

"A sufficient amount of work has been done on the Day and Ben Seymore lode to demonstrate that they carry a vein of good ore of the same character as the Harvey lode, and of nearly the same thickness.

"No work has been done since the year 1868, owning to continuous litigation among the owners of the property; but this has now (1871) been settled (Raymond 1872)."

Sometime after the litigation was resolved, a mill was erected on the property. The mill was not documented, but surficial remains show evidence of an arrastra and Chilean mill technology.


The Reliance property was listed as a major producer in the Moose Creek district in 1915.

Other Mines

The district also contained a number of small, less significant mines. These include: the Sunset, Mary Ann, a shaft 600 feet south of the Mary Ann, the Wildcat, Elkhorn-Buckhorn, Van Dorstan, and Silver Glance.


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

Hamilton, Karla

1977 "Cultural Resource Inventory, Humbug Spires Primitive Area", prepared for the Bureau of Land Management.

Lyden, Charles J.


The Gold Placers of Montana

. Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Memoir No. 26. Montana School of Mines, Butte.

Raymond, R. W.


Statistics of Mines and Mining of the States and Territories West of the Rocky Mountains

, Government Printing Office, Washington.

Sahinen, Uuno M.

1935 "Mining Districts of Montana", Thesis, Montana School of Mines, Butte.

1950 "Geology and Ore Deposits of the Highland Mountains, Southwestern Montana", Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Memoir 32.

Stevens, Horace Jared

1908 "Is There Another Butte District in Montana?",

Mining World,

Vol. 29, No. lO,p.367.

Wolle, Muriel S.


Montana Pay Dirt. A Guide to the Mining Camps of the Treasure State.

Sage Books, Denver.

Work Projects Administration (WPA) Mineral Resources Survey


Montana Mine Index. An Alphabetical Index Arranged by Counties, Districts and Mines of Information on Montana Mines from 1867-1940.

Montana School of Mines, Butte.