a sub-district of Blue Eyed Nellie Dist. aka Gold Coin (sub-district)

The Silver Lake district has also probably received little attention because of being overshadowed by the famous Gold Coin mining sub-district with its bonanza Gold Coin mine, located on the west side of the Silver Lake district, and by the Southern Cross mining district to the north, the premier gold producing district of the southern Flint Creek Range. The Gold Coin sub-district was not established until 1898 when the Gold Coin mine development got underway. For the next decade the property produced $200,000 worth of gold and then in the 1930s it produced an equal amount. The Southern Cross district's Southern Cross mine, however, was a true bonanza mine, producing about $5 million in gold, silver and copper during the first two decades of the twentieth century (Earll 1972).

The Silver Lake district's history began in 1884 when the Silver Reef lode claim was discovered. It was reported that about 14,000 ounces of silver and 50 ounces of gold was produced before the mine closed down. The ore was processed in smelters in Butte and Omaha, although a small amount was worked in an arrastra located on Warm Springs Creek below the mine. The mine was situated at 1,600 feet north and about 400 feet above Silver Lake. It was worked through two 40 foot shafts, connected underground by a gallery about 150 feet long. A 300 foot adit ran from the workings to the surface on the hillside (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Earll 1972).

Later, the property was mined by means of a series of open cuts and an additional 36,000 ounces of silver and 75 ounces of gold were produced. Some 95,000 pounds of lead, 55,000 pounds of zinc and 2,500 pounds of copper were also mined. Almost all of the district's production has come from the Silver Reef, although a small amount of production has been credited to the Hidden Treasure mine ((Emmons and Calkins 1913; Lawson 1972; 1974; 1976; 1977; Earll 1972:33).

Other mines in the district that were described by Emmons and Calkins (1913) include: the Okoreaka, which was located south of Silver Lake near the summit of Silver Hill and was reported to have produced a couple thousand ounces of silver; the Silver Hill on the south slope of Silver Hill and the Silver Moss on the north slope of Silver Hill. Neither the Silver Hill nor Silver Moss mines had any reported production and both had been long idle when examined by Emmons and Calkins. Additional mines in the district are the Trigger Mine, Old Bonanza, and numerous prospect operations.

Interest in the district revived during World War II with the shortage of tungsten. The Trigger mine then produced 4,000 tons of 1 percent tungsten ore (Walker n.d.).


The Silver Lake district is located on both the south and north sides of Silver Lake. Neither Earll (1972) nor Emmons and Calkins (1913) give any clear definition of the Silver Lake district other than Earll's description of the district as "...a small group of mines and mining claims north and south of Silver Lake" (Earll 1972). The Silver Lake district, like that of the Blue Eyed Nellie, is a minor district which centers essentially on one mine, the Silver Reef, which provided almost all of the district's production. Emmons and Calkins state that the mines in the area do not geographically fall into one group. The area encompassed by the Silver Lake district as defined by Emmons and Calkins includes: Sections 15, 16, 21, 22, 27, 28, 33 and 34, T5N R13W.

Wolle (1963) has little to say about the Silver Lake district, however, a quote from the Philipsburg Mail (1906) discusses the Gold Coin mine as part of the Silver Lake District and not part of a separate district. It might be inferred that the Gold Coin designation as a separate district dates after the development of the Gold Coin mine and mill in 1906. Physically the Gold Coin is only a few rods west of Silver Lake while it is 1.6 miles from Georgetown. The separation of the Gold Coin from Georgetown was accentuated by the flooding of Georgetown Flats by the Flint Creek dam in 1900.

Figure 1 shows the large Silver Lake mining district as defined by the AMRB (1994) and a smaller district that includes the major mines as defined by Emmons and Calkins (1913). The Gold Coin sub-district was the area immediately around the Gold Coin mine.


Chloride Star

The Chloride Star mine is listed as being in the Silver Lake sub-district in the 1940

Montana Mine Index.

Gold Coin Mine

The Gold Coin mine is near the mouth of Daly Gulch to the west of Silver Lake. The sub-district was discovered in 1898. The Gold Coin property consisted of two patented claims with more than 2,500 feet of underground workings. A mill was situated at the portal of the main tunnel, both of which are on the Red Fir claim. The ore deposits are replacement veins which cut across the bedding of the Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. The veins that were exploited are in the dolomite of the Hasmark formation and have been stoped to grass roots. The principal vein was encountered 200 feet from the portal and was extensively drifted. Several stopes were run to within 20 feet of the surface. Surficial quartz boulders have also produced considerable amounts of gold. The ore is ferruginous quartz locally stained with copper carbonates. It carries several dollars of gold per ton. Sulphide ores such as pyrite, pyrrhotite and a little chalcopyrite were also reported in the lower level of the mine (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Earll 1972)

Although the mine was discussed actively in the mining literature beginning in 1903, the mine first reported production in 1905. In 1906, a 30-stamp mill was in place and in full production. Mine and mill continued in production until 1909 and then again briefly in 1912. The mine was reopened in 1930 and produced continuously until 1940. When listed in 1935, the property was owned by Gold Coin Mines Co. The operation employed 15 men and in four years had produced about $140,000 in ore (Gilbert 1935b; WPA 1941; Earll 1972).

The mill at the Gold Coin was a 30 stamp amalgamation plant. The surface plant at the mine included the electrically driven mill with flotation cells, two compressors, a drill sharpener, seven houses and a blacksmith shop. The mill process was said to recover about 85 percent of the ore values. A cyanide circuit was added in the 1930s (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Gilbert 1935b; Earll 1972).

The mine had also been reactivated briefly in the 1950s and 1960s, but no significant production occurred. The near surface stopes had caved to produce deep, steep walled pits in which supporting timbers could still be seen in 1972 (Earll 1972).

Silver Reef

The Silver Reef is located about 1,600 feet north and 400 feet above Silver Lake. It was discovered in 1884 by N. Walters and soon thereafter sold for $50,000. The mine was to be actively developed, but the new owner died before plans could get underway. In its early years it was said to have produced 14,000 ounces of silver and $1,000 in gold. Most of the ore was shipped to butte and Omaha smelters, but some was worked in an arrastra on Warm Springs Creek.

The mine was developed by two shafts about 40 feet deep which are connected by a 150 foot gallery. A 100 foot adit also connects the gallery to the surface. The excavations are in a grayish impure limestone and tap a tabular replacement of the limestone that is about 6 feet thick. The tabular body is joined by a nearly vertical vein. Ore is primarily quartz with some dolomite and calcite. Selected samples of the ore run several hundred ounces of silver per ton (Emmons and Calkins 1913).


The Trigger mine is located in section 28, T5N, R 13 W on the south shore of Silver Lake. It is composed of 13 claims. Mine workings consist of a 168 foot lower adit at elevation 6,460 feet and a 125 foot upper adit at elevation 6,507 feet. Considerable stoping has been done above a crosscut in the upper adit. The mine has also been tested for tungsten with several bulldozer cuts, and 19 diamond-drill holes. In the 1940s the mine shipped 4,000 tons of 1 percent tungsten ore (Walker n.d.).

Emmons and Calkins (1913) also discuss the Okoreaka mine, Silver Hill mine and the Silver Moss mine. The Silver Moss mine is about 200 feet above Silver Lake.


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

Anderson, Paul and Barbara Sommer

1990 Preservation Planning Overview for Phase 25 of Projects 25, 26, 27 and 28: Parts One and Two. Report prepared for the Montana Department of State Lands, Helena, by GCM Services, Inc., Butte.

Earll, F. N.

1972 Mines and Mineral Deposits of the Southern Flint Creek Range, Montana.

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Bulletin 84

. Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology, Butte.

Emmons, William Harvey and Frank C. Calkins

1913 "Geology and Ore Deposits of the Philipsburg Quadrangle, Montana",

U. S. Geological Survey, Professional Paper 78.

Gilbert, Frederick C.

1935a "Gold Production in Montana",

Gluck Auf

(Montana School of Mines), Vol. 1. No. 1, pp. 6-7, 15.

1935b "Directory of Montana Mining Properties", Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Memoir No. 15. Montana School of Mines, Butte.

Lawson, Don C.

1972 "Directory of Mining Enterprises for 1971".

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Bulletin 86

. Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology, Butte.

1974 "Directory of Mining Enterprises for 1973". Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Bulletin 92. Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology, Butte.

1975 "Directory of Mining Enterprises for 1974". Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Bulletin 95. Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology, Butte.

1976 "Directory of Mining Enterprises for 1975". Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Bulletin 100. Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology, Butte.

1977 "Directory of Mining Enterprises for 1976". Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Bulletin 103. Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology, Butte.

Walker, D. D.

n.d. "Tungsten Resources of Montana: Deposits of the Philipsburg Batholith, Granite and Deer Lodge Counties", U. S. Bureau of Mines, Report of Investigations 5612.

Wolle, Muriel Sibell


Montana Pay Dirt.

Sage Books, Athens, Ohio

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.