HISTORIC CONTEXT

The Quartz Hill mining district is located on the northeastern portion of the Pioneer Mountains about three miles northeast of Vipond. It includes lands between the Big Hole River and the headwaters of Echo and Quartz Hill Gulch. This area is essentially the north and northeast facing slopes of Sheep Mountain. Although the Quartz Hill mining district is here designated as distinct from the Vipond district, the histories are very intertwined, primarily because historic access to both districts was from the road south of Dewey, a mining community on the Big Hole River, and the geologic setting is essentially the same. Some of the most important silver strikes in the Pioneer range were made in the Quartz Hill and Vipond districts.

Prominent silver-bearing veins occur along the summit of Quartz Mountain, a southeast-northwest ridge about two miles long and half a mile wide, sloping gently to the southeast. The country rock is Paleozoic limestone, dipping about 30 degrees south. The veins, consisting primarily of quartz with some barite, are nearly vertical and strike either north or east. They fault the limestone and contain the same ore minerals as are found in the Vipond district (Winchell 1914:79).

The first mining claim in the area was located by John Vipond who found the Mewonitoc lode in the Vipond Park district in April of 1868. He and his brothers, Joseph and William, continued to prospect the area and make claims, but development of producing mines was slow, in part, due to the lack of transportation. At this same time, the town of Dewey developed along the Big Hole River at the base of the gulch leading up to Quartz Hill and Vipond Park. In order to get their ore to the smelters, the miners built a road in 1872 from the mines to Dewey, and then along the Big Hole River to Divide. One of the first uses of the new road was made by Colonel Washington Black who hauled a load of ore from Vipond to the railhead at Corrine, Utah. Later, Vipond ore was hauled to the three pan-amalgamation mills constructed in Dewey. Colonel Black is credited with making the first claim in the Quartz Hill district. Coming upon a rich outcrop, he loaded his wagon with the float ore and hauled it to Dewey.

The most important mine in the Quartz Hill district was the Lone Pine which was located in the late 1870s and claimed in 1880 by the Lone Pine Mining and Milling Company. After 1886 the mine was run for five years by the Partridge Brothers. It was then sold to the Jay Hawk Company, an English syndicate, in 1891 for $725,000. A 25-stamp mill and a concentrating plant were erected at the mine and produced $33,000 in silver each month in addition to considerable amounts of lead, zinc and copper. Workers from the mine and mill lived in the adjacent town of Ponsonby which was named after an English investor. The operation closed in 1895 because of low silver prices and a depletion of good ore. In 1928 the Quartz Hill Mining Company purchased the properties, reopening the mine and reviving the town of Ponsonby in 1933. A new ore body had been discovered a few hundred feet southwest of the original Lone Pine vein and this new West Lone Pine operation was a steady silver producer from 1933 to 1950. Some ore was also produced in 1958, 1961 and 1962. Total production of the Quartz Hill District between 1902 and 1965 was 57,261 tons of ore, which contained 1118 ounces of gold, 1,024,485 ounces of silver, 198,991 pounds of copper, 72,032 pounds of lead and 500 pounds of zinc (Geach 1972: Wolle 1963).

Although most of the district's production came from the Lone Pine mine, there were a number of other properties which produced some ore. The Aurora produced 663 tons of ore from 1933 to 1936 from workings located half a mile northwest of the West Lone Pine mine. The Burgierosa mine, located west of Quartz Hill, produced an unknown amount of ore in 1950. Another significant producing mine was the Monte Cristo, located just north of the Lone Pine, which produced 19,872 ounces of silver. The Quartz Hill mine was reported by Winchell (1914) to have operated for several years and produced significant amounts of silver ore prior to 1894 (Sassman 1941; Geach 1972).

The 1920s and 1930s saw renewed production from the Lone Pine, Argyle and Monte Cristo mines but production then declined after 1937(Sassman 1941).

Production figures for the district in the 1880s and 1890s are not known but total recorded production from 1902 to 1965 for the combined Vipond Park and Quartz Hill area was 57,261 tons of ore which yielded 1,118 ounces of gold, 1,024,485 ounces of silver, 198,991 pounds of copper, 72,032 pounds of lead and 500 pounds of zinc, most of which came from the West Lone Pine mine (Geach 1972).

BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT

The Quartz Hill district is bordered on the north by the Big Hole River, on the west by Wise River, and on the south by the height of land at the head of Echo and Quartz Hill Gulch which separates the Gray Jockey Peak from Sheep Mountain and Vipond Park. The eastern boundary is relatively arbitrary (Figure 1). The Quartz Hill mining district is usually considered to be part of the Vipond district, e.g., Winchell 1914, Wolle 1963, and Geach 1972.

HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES

The following mines are south and east of Ponsonby Peak, an 8200 foot mountain which forms the headwaters of Quartz Hill Gulch. Most are located along the Knoby Park road.

Argyle

The Argyle claim was located by H. O. Betts on November 18, 1870. A decade later it was patented (Pat. #6316 - Mineral Survey #435) to Alexander J. Leggat on June 15, 1881. The mine may have been producing at this time, ca. 1880s since the listed improvements indicate extensive work on the property: a discovery shaft, four other shafts, two shaft houses, a residence house, mine workings, a dam and a 200-foot long water race (Sassman 1941; BLM Mineral Survey Records).

In 1908 the Argyle property was leased for a few months by the Benton Mining and Milling Company but there is no record of any production. The Argyle Silver Mining Company (who held seven patented quartz claims and two mill sites) then acquired the mine in 1920 and was reported to have operated it for a short period. The company equipped the mine with a gasoline-powered hoist, ore bins, mine cars and several buildings. The mine was in production during the 1920s and 1930s but then saw a decline in output after 1937 (Sassman 1941).

Aurora / Humboldt

The Aurora/Humboldt mine was located about 3,300 feet northwest of the West Lone Pine and just north of the Pettengill mines. The property consisted of two lode claims and a discontiguous mill site, both of which were patented to Philip Knabe in 1880. The Aurora was patented (#4979 - MS #771) on March 18, while the Humboldt lode and mill sites were patented (#5890 - MS #877) on November 27. Improvements on the Aurora claim consisted of a discovery shaft, five other shafts and a house. On the Humboldt claim, located just northwest of the Aurora, there were four shafts, an open cut, shaft house and shop. The value of all improvements on both claims was valued at $1,685. Most of these features still exist in various stages of decay (Geach 1972; BLM Mineral Survey Records).

During the 1930s, the Aurora mine was worked from two shafts, one 80 feet deep and the other about 50 feet deep. The Aurora was originally developed by a trench dug along the vein which was later enlarged into an open pit. During these early stages of development, the mine was called the Daisy mine but was later called the Aurora when it was learned that the mine workings were located on the Aurora vein. The vein of ore was about five to six feet wide and was about 80 ft below the surface. The mine was not a major producer but the three or four miners who worked on the operation did mine small amounts of ore during the period from 1933 to 1936 and in 1941. Total production amounted to 663 tons of ore, which contained 13,746 ounces of silver, 1,914 pounds of copper and four ounces of gold (Goudarzi 1941; Geach 1972; BLM Mineral Survey Records).

The East Aurora mine consisted of a 48-foot vertical shaft and an inclined shaft. Although samples from the three-foot wide vein assayed as much as $451 per ton in silver, there is no record of production from the mine (Goudarzi 1941; Geach 1972).

There is no record of any production or further development of the Humboldt claim following the early development work in the 1880s.

Daisy

The Quartz Hill Mining Company acquired the properties from the Argyle Silver Mining Company in 1928, filing claim for the Daisy, Sunny Side, and Engraver Lodes on July 13, 1936 (MS 10707). The Quartz Hill firm re-opened the Lone Pine shaft and discovered the West Lone Pine ore shoot. The operation first began producing in 1933 and operations continued until the early 1940s, when production was taken over by lessors. When the claim was filed for the Daisy, Sunny Side, and Engraver lodes in 1936, the company had sunk two shafts and made three open cuts on the property. The discovery shaft for the Daisy was a subsequent development of the discovery shaft for the Humboldt Lode which was patented (#5890) and mapped in 1880. There is no record of any production from the operation and it appears little further development of the mine occurred afterward (BLM Mineral Survey Records).

Great Western

The Great Western mine was apparently operated originally by the Jay Hawk and Lone Pine Mining and Milling Company during the 1880s and 1890s. The Great Western claim was unsurveyed and apparently was never patented. The mine was located about 1,500 feet northwest of the Lone Pine mine and appears to have been part of the Lone Pine operation until the Lone Pine ore shoot was depleted and the operation was shut down in 1895. The mine workings consisted of a 54-foot shaft and about 200 feet of horizontal drifts with a 28-foot winze sunk to an ore body 82-feet below the surface (Geach 1972; BLM Mineral Survey Records).

The land on which the Great Western mine was located was finally patented by the Quartz Hill Mining Company on January 10, 1935 (Pat. #1082743 - Mineral Survey #10689) as parts of the Silver Queen and Ruby Silver lodes. The Quartz Hill firm also re-opened the Lone Pine shaft and discovered the West Lone Pine ore shoot. Exploration work was conducted by the Quartz Hill Company at the Great Western as part of their work at the West Lone Pine. The operation first began producing in 1933 and operations continued until the early 1940s, when production was taken over by lessors. Although there is no record of any production from the Great Western under that name, there may have been some production which was included in the general figures of the Quartz Hill company. The nature and extent of the surface facilities and waste piles at the site also suggests that some production may have occurred during the mine's early history as well (Lorain 1937; Geach 1972; BLM Mineral Survey Records).

Quartz Hill / Macdonell Lode

The Quartz Hill mine features include a linear progression of hillside explorations culminating in a shaft development. The Macdonell Lode features include a linear progression of shafts on a bench over Triangle Gulch and a shaft development with a shaft house to the north. Development of the Macdonell Lode originally extended out onto the Triangle Gulch bench. However, the main development was at the base of the hill slightly to the north of the original discovery trench.

The Quartz Hill deposits were discovered by Colonel Washington Black on June 17, 1889 when he loaded a wagon bed full of surfice "float ore" from Quartz Hill. At the time Black had been employed hauling ore from the Vipond Park mines to the railroad at Corrine, Utah. The Quartz Hill lode was patented (Pat. #21430 - Mineral Survey #3255) to Louis C. Fyhrie and others on May 23, 1892 . The patented property had a discovery shaft, four others shafts and buildings valued at $2,310. Because of the shared name with the district, the mine was overshadowed in the mining literature by general Quartz Hill district developments (Wolle 1963; BLM Mineral Survey Records).

The adjoining Macdonell lode extended the Quartz Hill mine out onto the Triangle Gulch bench. This amended claim was located June 26, 1920 by Jones Macdonell who then patented the claim on July 31, 1920 (Pat. #848681 - Mineral Survey #10273). The property contained a discovery cut, another cut, three shafts and a tunnel, all valued at $695. Another shaft was shown on the survey map but was not mentioned as an improvement. The major development of the mine occurred after the 1920 mineral survey.

Titanus (Tuscon)

The Tuscon Lode was located around 1880 and was patented (Pat. #6820 - Mineral Survey #930) to Alexander J. Leggat on May 16, 1884 (Figure 45). At that point the mine consisted of a 15-foot discovery shaft, a 20-foot shaft, a 100-foot cut and a cross cut. The total value of the improvements was valued at $950 (BLM Mineral Survey Records).

The Titanus mine was located on patented ground about 600 feet due north of the Aurora mine. The mine consisted of a 40-foot vertical shaft and 100 feet of underground workings. Around 1940 the mine was worked by lessees. Although there is no official record of production from the Titanus mine, Goudarzi reported the mine during this period produced as much as 10 tons of ore per day which yielded up to 45 ounces of silver per ton (Goudarzi 1941; Geach 1972).

West Lone Pine

The Lone Pine mine was first developed by the Lone Pine Mining and Milling Company during the 1870s. The company was then run by the Partridge brothers for about five years, during which time they built an arrastra on the Big Hole River just west of Divide. In the fall of 1891, one of the company's principal stockholders - L. C. Fyhrie - negotiated the sale of the company's holdings to an English syndicate, the Jay Hawk Company (who also had a mill on the Big Hole River), for $725,000. During that same year - on October 3rd - the Lone Pine Mining and Milling Company patented the Luna, Excelsior, Silver Star, Harrison, Fraction, Silver King lodes and the Excelsior mill site (Pat. #25043 - Mineral Survey #3588, 3589A&B, 3590, 3591, 3592, 3593). The consolidation of the two companies resulted in the new company acquiring the Lone Pine, Silver Star, Silver King, Harrison H., Greeley, Excelsior, Black Pine, Luna, Pettengill, Monroe, Bonanza, Mountain Maid mines as well as two mill sites (Sassman 1941; Geach 1972; BLM Mineral Survey Records).

In 1892, the new company - renamed the Jay Hawk and Lone Pine Consolidated Mining Company - operated the mines and the 15-stamp mill at Dewey producing about 33,000 ounces of silver each month. Most of this ore came from the Lone Pine ore body which had been mined to a depth of 1,800 feet. It was then decided to expand the mill to 25-stamps and move it to a place adjacent to the mines. The mill was reported to have been one of the most efficient plants in the region for treating free-milling silver ores such as were found on Quartz Hill. No accurate figures on the mine's production during this early period are available although it was reported by G. C. Swallow in 1891, that the mine had 10 (not the planned 25) stamps crushing 25 tons of ore a day which yielded 50 ounces of silver to the ton (Lorain 1937; Sassman 1941; Wolle 1963).

In 1893, company manager Captain Prideaux reported the mine had reached rich ore at the 1,335 and 1,130 foot levels. However, the collapse of silver prices in 1893 and the exhaustion of the Lone Pine ore shoot in 1895, forced the company to shut down the mill in 1895 and work at the company's mines ceased shortly afterward and the mill was dismantled (the mill building itself survived another 60 years before being destroyed by fire). In 1908, the property was acquired by the Benton Mining & Milling Company and then by the Argyle Silver Mining Company, but no mining was undertaken at the Lone Pine by either firm (Swallow et al. 1891; Lorain 1937; Sassman 1941; Geach 1972).

Little work was done on the property until 1928, when the Quartz Hill Mining Company took over the property and reopened the Lone Pine shaft. New machinery was installed; a drift on the 200-foot level was driven along the dolomite-shale contact, exposing the top of the West Lone Pine ore body; and then a series of winzes were driven into the ore body. The main shaft was equipped with a 54-inch diameter single drum electric hoist which was powered by a 52-horsepower induction motor. An Ingersoll Rand Imperial XCB compressor, driven by a 52-horsepower induction motor, provided 813 cubic feet of air per minute to the mine workings. All the drills used in the mine were powered by the compressor. The West Lone Pine began shipping ore in 1933 and was a steady producer under the Quartz Hill Mining Company until the early 1940s and then by lessors until 1950. Some addition ore was taken from the mine in 1958, 1961 and 1962 when it was finally shut down. During this period, the West Lone Pine ore body produced a total 47,618 tons of ore which yielded 924,353 ounces of silver, 163,803 pounds of copper and 311 ounces of gold (Mineral Resources 1928; Lorain 1937; Goudarzi 1941; Sassman 1941; Trauerman 1950; Geach 1972; Krohn & Weist 1977).

The West Lone Pine ore body was mined from a 575 foot incline shaft with stations cut at 100-foot intervals, starting at the 200 foot level. Drifts were then driven to the limits of ore indications. Inclinded winzes were driven into the ore body from the 600 and 800 foot levels. Two drifts were driven from the Lone Pine ore body to the West Lone Pine ore body and it was during work on the 200-foot level drift that the West Lone Pine ore shoot was located (Lorin 1937).

During development work on the West Lone Pine, a new headframe was erected, an engine house, blacksmith shop, and cabins were constructed. A new 3.8 mile long electric power line was constructed in 1935 to power the 52-horsepower electric-driven hoist and the Ingersoll Rand Imperial compressor which was powered by a 125-horsepower industrial motor. Construction of a new mill was not undertaken since the ore was not amenable to cyanidation and it was found to be more economical to truck the ore to Divide where it was shipped by rail direct to the smelter at Anaconda. Generally, about 20 tons of ore a day were produced by the 30 men who were directly employed by the company. Nineteen men were engaged on actual production while the other 11 worked on exploration and development (Lorain 1937).

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