No hardrock mines exploiting precious metals have been opened in the Ruby district, however, high quality graphite has been found in the lower Paleozoic sediments of the district, in the underlying schists and gneisses, and also in intrusive granite. Manganese deposits have also been found in sections 23 and 24 T8S, R8W (Geach 1972; Sahinen 1935).

The Crystal Graphite Company reportedly worked a deposit in the district in 1902-03, during World War I and in the years preceding World War II (Geach 1972; Sahinen 1935; Tyler 1929).

Several modern talc mines in the area are now the most prominent mining activity in the district. Of these only the Smith - Dillon Talc mine had historic production (Geach 1972).


Sahinen (1935) places the Ruby district 15 miles southeast of Dillon. The western slopes of the Ruby range have not been the scene of placer or hardrock lode mining. No definition of the district exists in the mining literature. Indeed, the area east of Dillon appears to be devoid of metallic mineralization. The one producing mine mentioned in literature, the Crystal Graphite Company property in T8S R7W, is occasionally included in discussions of the Dillon district graphite industry. The manganese and talc deposits in T8S R8W would also be included in the district. Figure 1 shows the Ruby district enlarged to the west to include the talc and graphite mines.


As noted there are no producing hardrock mines in the district only talc and graphite mines.

Crystal Graphite Company

The Crystal Graphite Company property is located in sections 29, 30, and 31 T8S R7W in Van Camp Canyon about 15 miles southeast of Dillon. The property is composed of the Badger, Sage, Gopher, Groundhog, Lucky Boy, Antelope, Faithful, Mayflower, Birds Nest, Homestake, Last Chance, and Graphite Mill claims. The mine was located in 1899 by a Mr. Robbins who thought he had a lead deposit. When the lead proved to be graphite, the claim was abandoned. In 1902 Pearl I. Smith became the owner and organized the Crystal Graphite Company. The following year the first shipment of graphite (50 tons) was made from the Birds Nest claim. In 1903 the property was leased for a year to the Copper Cliff Mining Company of Chicago. The property then lay idle until 1914 when development work commenced. From World War I to 1920 about 1,400 tons of high quality graphite was mined from the Ground Hog claim and shipped directly to the eastern U.S. Although mining nearly ceased after the war, in 1929 the company was actively pursuing an efficient milling process for the material. Pearl Smith died in 1937 and her son Paul I. Smith patented the property in 1938. Some development work was done in 1941, 1943 and 1944 by lessees. In 1944, a small flotation mill on the property produced 150 tons of concentrates from the mine ore and old dumps. The mine has been inactive since 1944 (Geach 1972).

The graphite deposit has been explored by about 3,500 feet of underground workings with a vertical range of about 350 feet. In the late 1910s, the upper 150 feet of workings produced ore from stopes on the Smith, Dubie and Hoy levels. In the early 1940s, lessees drove the 1,050 foot Antelope adit 200 feet below the Hoy level. The graphite produced is a high quality product, similar in quality to Ceylon graphite, but softer and containing thin iron-oxide films. Raw ores were reported to be 8 to 12 percent graphite while mill concentrates averaged 85 to 90 percent (Geach 1972).

While Tyler (1929) placed the Crystal Graphite property in the Ruby district, Winchell (1914) places it near the town of Dillon and in the district of the same name. The Crystal Graphite mine is the only mine in the Dillon district to achieve recorded production. It is listed in the Montana Mine Index from 1935 to 1938 and was earlier discussed in the mining literature in 1903, 1904, 1908, and 1918.

Smith - Dillon Talc

The Smith - Dillon mine is located in section 23, T8S, R8W on the Axes Canyon road. Tri-State Minerals, a subsidiary of Southern California Minerals Company began production in 1942. The talc deposit was originally worked from 1,500 feet of adits and drifts on the main haulage level 30 feet above the creek. An additional 400 feet of drifts are worked out of a 60 foot winze. However, most of the production for the mine has occurred out of a modern open pit. The talc body is delineated by the workings to be about 400 feet long, 60 to 100 feet wide and more than 200 feet deep. The talc is of steatite grade which is the purest form of the commercial varieties (Berg 1979; Geach 1972).


Berg, Richard D.

1979 "Talc and Chlorite Deposits in Montana",

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Memoir 45


Geach, R. D.

1972 "Mines and Mineral Deposits (except fuels) Beaverhead County, Montana",

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Bulletin 85


Hum, C. K. M.

1943 "Geology and Occurrence of Graphite at the Crystal Graphite Mine near Dillon, Montana", B. S. Thesis, Montana College of Science and Technology, Butte.

Lyden, Charles J.

1948 "The Gold Placers of Montana",

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Memoir 26

. Montana School of Mines, Butte.

Sahinen, Uuno M.

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

Tyler, Paul McIntosh

1929 "Graphite (Domestic and Foreign Deposits)",

U.S. Bureau of Mines

, Information Circular 6122, pp. 1-25.

Winchell, Alexander Newton

1914 "Mining Districts of the Dillon Quadrangle, Montana and Adjacent Areas",

U. S. Geological Survey, Bulletin 574


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.