The Clark Fork district in Carbon County follows the Clark Fork of the Yellowstone River from the Montana-Wyoming border north to include the lower part of Bear Creek. The district is known for its placer gold that is so fine that recovery is very difficult (Lyden 1948).

The gold is deposited in the sands along the banks of the Clark Fork. Two characteristics of the gold, its fineness and the fact that the width of the grains exceeds their thickness, suggest that the particles have been carried great distances. Lyden (1948) hypothesizes that the lode source for the placer gold lies to the south in Wyoming.

Several operators, including the Gold-Black-Sand Mining Company, have tried a variety of methods to recover gold from the Clark Fork. The equipment has included sluices, suction dredges, dragline scrapers, and concentrating devices, but none has proved successful. Although some gravels have averaged as high as 37 cents of gold per yard, the total district production from 1904 to 1948 amounted to 38 fine ounces worth $1,130, all recovered near Belfry. No production was credited to the Gold-Black-Sand Mining Co., despite their claim to placer grounds along the whole stretch of the river. Without more efficient recovery methods, the Clark Fork placer deposits "must be left to the small operator blessed with infinite patience and a satisfaction with small returns for much hard labor" (Lyden 1948).


The Clark Fork district encompasses a narrow strip of ground along the Clark Fork of the Yellowstone River. While Sahinen (1935) places it "south of Belfry, near the Montana-Wyoming line," Lyden (1948) describes placer activity running from the border north to Belfry. Figure 1 shows the district as defined by the AMRB (1994) which essentially conforms to Lyden's description.


There are no lode mines in this district.


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

Lyden, Charles J.


The Gold Placers of Montana.

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

Sahinen, Uuno Mathias


Mining Districts of Montana

. Unpublished Master's thesis, Department of Geology, Montana School of Mines, Butte.