aka Kila aka Flathead

The Hog Heaven mining district is located in Flathead County west of Flathead Lake. The area is within the Flathead Mountain range and is drained by the Little Bitterroot River and its principal tributary, Sullivan Creek. The ore deposits of the region are silver-lead deposits. The Flathead mine, the principal mine in the district, is located about 35 miles by road southwest of Kalispell and 40 miles northwest of Polson. During the late 1930s and 1940s it was one of the largest silver producers in the Pacific Northwest (Anderson & Fredlund 1983).

The Flathead Range is made up of a succession of relatively low hills and narrow stream valleys with altitudes ranging from about 4,700 feet on the ridge tops in the area of the Flathead mine to about 3,000 feet at Niarada. Camas Valley and its tributary valley Big Draw is an exception; it is a flat plain 1 - 5 miles wide that was once occupied by an arm of Glacial Lake Missoula. There is no permanent stream in the Big Draw, but flood waters are discharged from it in the spring. The terminal moraines of the glacier (the Flathead lobe of the Cordilleran sheet) that moved down the Flathead Valley are at Polson and west of Big Arm (Shenon & Taylor 1936; Johns 1970).

The Hog Heaven mining district is located in an area of quartzites, argillites, and impure limestones of the Ravalli and Newland formations of the Belt series. According to Sahinen (1935), "Some igneous rocks, both extrusive and intrusive, are exposed in the area. Ore deposits occur as narrow stringers and veins in limestone." The ore deposits in the district are small, irregular, high-grade silver-lead epithermal lodes (Johns et al. 1963).

Homesteaders began arriving in the area in the 1880s. A number of large ranches had been established by the turn of the century, including those of the Derringer family (north of Singer) and the Herman family (north of Niarada). There were some homesteaders in Hog Heaven, or the Big Draw, by 1906. The Hog Heaven school was open between approximately 1914 and 1927. Private ownership of the mining district area began at the turn of the century. Sections 5, 9, 17, and 19 of T25N, R23W were granted to the Northern Pacific Railway Company in 1902, and in 1912 the railroad deeded over 134,000 acres to the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. It is interesting that this exchange was arranged before the railroad achieved title to the land (Babcock 1981; Siegrist 1986).

Little or no mining was done in the region until 1928. After that, however, the Flathead Mine became one of the most important silver mines in Montana producing more than 90 percent of the ore in the Hog Heaven district. The total value of production of silver, lead, gold, zinc, and copper from the district reached at least $6 million. Between 1928 and 1963 the Hog Heaven district mines shipped ore that yielded 4,000 ounces gold; 7,000,000 ounces silver; 600,000 pounds copper; 23,000,000 pounds lead; and 5,000 pounds zinc. The Flathead Mine, employing 50 men, provided significant employment during the Depression, when logging operations and ranching were not able to support local workers (Sahinen 1935; Babcock 1981; Johns 1970; Johns et al. 1963).


Sahinen (1935) described the Hog Heaven district as located near Kila, 27 miles southwest of Kalispell. Figure 1 shows the district as defined by the AMRB (1994) that includes all of the primary mining in the area.


Battle Butte

The Battle Butte mine, also known as the Margarita, was located in the section 20, T25N, R23W, about 1 mile south of the West Flathead mine. Prospects were started in the late 1930s and operated intermittently until at least 1970. The ore was mainly base metal but contained some silver. The mine produced some copper, zinc, and lead. By the time a mill was constructed, a drop in base-metal prices forced the mine to close. Most of the workings are in altered andesite and argillite of the Ravalli group (Johns et al. 1963; Johns 1970).


The Birdseye mine (also known as the Bird's Eye) was located in the SW1/4 of Section 16, T25N, R23W, less than 1/2 mile east of the Maryann mine and 1/4 mile south of the Flathead mine. It was owned by the Anaconda Mining Company and was discovered in the 1930s. The workings are in porphyritic latite, with deposits much like those of the Flathead mine. The ore bodies were small. Samples from a shaft driven in 1931 assayed 102 ounces of silver (Flathead Monitor 1931;Johns et al. 1963; Wolle 1963; Johns 1970).


The Flathead mine was the most productive silver and lead mine in the district. The mine is located in Section 17, T25N, R23W, 19 miles south of Kila (the shipping point on the Great Northern Railway) and 40 miles north of Polson. It is located on the headwaters of Sullivan Creek, a tributary of the Little Bitter Root, which in turn flows into the Clark Fork River (Shenon 1930).

Sidney M. Logan, a Kalispell attorney, and John Herman located the Virginia Quartz lode mining claim in 1913 about midway between the present Flathead and Mary Ann mines. They received a locator's fee, and the Anaconda Copper Mining Company prospected the claim area and developed the Flathead mine. The Anaconda Company sank a prospect shaft, but the ore pinched out with depth and the work was discontinued. The property was idle until 1928, when lessees Isaac Snodderly and Trembly discovered the main ore body and shipped out several hundred tons of high-grade ore before their lease expired in 1929 (Wolle 1963; Babcock 1981; Anderson & Fredlund 1983).

Between 1928 and 1933 total production was about 20,000 tons of ore that yielded approximately 1.5 million ounces of silver. Only a small amount of the lead and gold present in the ore was recovered. There was approximately 1 unit of lead to each 7 ounces of silver in the shipping ore (Shenon & Taylor 1936; Biggar 1951).

During the 1930s the operators opened five tunnels and drifts at the mine and produced 30-40 tons of silver ore a day. By 1936 the mine had been developed through three adits, with several thousand feet of drifts and crosscuts. The ore was shipped to the Washoe and East Helena smelters by truck to Kila and by railroad from there. The Anaconda Copper Mining Company employed 50 men at the mine in the 1930s and housed many or most of them at a permanent camp at the mine site. Water was hauled to the camp from Kila or Welcome Springs by returning empty ore trucks (Shenon & Taylor 1936; Babcock 1981).

The Flathead mine reported production of ore in the years 1914, 1928-1931 and 1935-40. The Flathead mine shipped considerable high-grade silver ore in 1928, 1929, and 1930. No shipments were reported in 1932. The mine was closed between October 1930 and January 1934 (Mining & Engineering World 1914; Mining Truth 1930; Sahinen 1935; Shenon & Taylor 1936; Mineral Resources 1928-30; Mineral Yearbook 1935-40; Mining Journal 1929-30).

The estimated total production from 1928-30 and 1934-64 is 230,000 tons yielding 6,700,000 ounces silver (about 30 ounces per ton); 3,000 ounces gold (about 0.01 ounce per ton); 23,000,000 pounds lead (about 5 percent); and 600,000 pounds copper (0.1 percent). The average mine run was from 40 to 80 ounces in silver. Waino Lindbom of Kalispell held the lease to the mine from 1958-1980. There was some production between 1964 and 1976 (Shenon 1930; Johns 1970; Cossaboom 1981; Babcock 1981).

The Flathead mine is in volcanic rock in a mountainous area between two major depressions, the Purcell trench on the west and the Rocky Mountain trench on the east. The mine is unusual in that it is located in volcanic rocks overlying the Belt sediments of the area, with a few patches of intrusives. There are three types of igneous rocks in the immediate vicinity. The area of commercial importance has exposed volcanics, with altered porphyry the most prevalent rock. The high-grade silver ore is in a less common rock, the trachyte porphyry. There is no well-defined vein (Shenon 1930).

The workings at the mine that are near the surface are in volcanic flows and agglomerate. The deeper drifts are in dikes and plugs that intrude both an argillite and volcanic rocks. The ore body is in silicified, alunitized porphyritic latite. The primary minerals are sulfides. The gangue is barite, alunite, quartz, and clay. Rich ore is present in the deeper parts of the mine, but in pods and lenses smaller than those in the upper workings. A material known locally as smoke because of its sooty appearance is reported to indicate high silver content (Young et al. 1962; Johns 1970).


The Martin mine was located approximately 1/2 mile southeast of the Battle Butte mine in Section 20, T25N, R23W. It was started in the late 1930s and operated intermittently until at least 1970. The ore is mainly base metal (zinc, copper, and lead) but includes some silver. The only zinc produced in the Hog Heaven district came from the Martin mine. By the time a mill was constructed, a drop in base-metal prices forced the mine to close. Most of the workings are in altered andesite. The ore, which is similar to that in the Flathead mine, consists of sulfides in a silicified breccia zone in argillite of the Ravalli group (Johns 1970).

Between 1961 and 1964 the Martin Mining Company of Kalispell conducted development work at the mine. Total production from the Martin and Battle Butte mines from 1930-64 was 5,000 pounds of lead and 3,500 pounds of zinc (Anderson & Fredlund 1983).


The Ole mine was located one mile west of the Flathead mine in Sections 17 and 18, T25N, R23W and was accessible by road from Polson or Niarada. Adits on Ole Hill are adjacent to Sullivan Creek, across the coulee from the West Flathead mine. In 1929 Kalispell and Whitefish businessmen holding stock in the Ole mine, leased 160 acres surrounding the Flathead mine from the Northern Pacific Company. The operators drove a 450-foot tunnel on the property, but the value of the deposit was unknown. No ore was shipped up to 1930, but the mine was active in 1931 with the Ole Mining Company reporting assays of 1,400 ounces of silver to the ton. The mine operated under lease from the Northern Pacific Railroad Company in the 1960s, and in 1963-64 more than 150 tons of silver ore were shipped from the site (Johns 1970; Babcock 1981; Wolle 1963; Shenon & Taylor 1936; Johns et al. 1963; Sahinen 1935; "Flathead's Mining Development" 1931).

The mine is located in an altered porphyritic latite plug that has intruded argillite of the Ravalli Group. Supergene argentite mineralization in the porphyritic latite has "associations similar to those of the Flathead and West Flathead mines." A small patch of porphyritic rock rests upon argillite of the Belt series. The porphyritic rock apparently extends downward as dike-like bodies (Shenon & Taylor 1936; Johns 1970).

Native gold was present in the ore in trace amounts to several ounces a ton. Material in a fumarole hole reportedly assayed 60 ounces silver per ton (Johns 1970).

West Flathead

The West Flathead Mine was located approximately 1/2 mile southwest of the Flathead Mine in Section 17, T25N, R23W. It was discovered between 1938 and 1941 by the Anaconda Mining Company and was operated intermittently by the company until 1946. After 1946 lessees intermittently operating the West Flathead mine shipped some ore to the smelter in Anaconda. The mine reportedly had some of the richest ore in the Hog Heaven district; running as high as $4,000 per ton. The mine produced a total of 220,000 ounces silver by 1970.

The shallow workings are confined to the supergene enrichment zone. The ore bodies occur in argillite of the Ravalli Group, and the mineral is argentite. Ore is scarce in the igneous rocks, which consists of porphyritic latite intruded by porphyritic andesite and extrusive andesite (Johns 1970; Anderson & Fredlund 1983).


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 Lynn Fredlund

1983 "Cultural Resource Inventory and Evaluation for the Hog Heaven Project, Flathead County, Montana." Prepared for CoCa Mines, Ltd., and Floyd C. Bossard & Associates by GCM Services, Inc.

Babcock, William A.

1981 "Phase I Cultural Resource Inventory, Flathead Mine Area, Polson, Montana." Prepared for ECON, Inc., by Historical Research Associates.

Biggar, Hugh J.

1951 "The Development of the Lower Flathead Valley." M. A. thesis, Montana State University.

Cossaboom, C. Carey

1981 "Alteration Petrology and Mineralization of the Flathead Mine, Hog Heaven Mining District, Montana." M. S. Thesis, University of Montana.

Flathead Monitor

1931 "Flathead's Mining Development." June 18, p. 5.

Johns, W. M.

1962 "Geologic Investigations in the Kootenai-Flathead Area, Northwest Montana, No. 4, Southwestern Flathead County." Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Bull. 29.

1970 "Geology and Mineral Deposits of Lincoln and Flathead Counties, Montana." Butte: Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Bull. 79.

Johns, W. M., et al.

1963 "Geologic Investigations in the Kootenai-Flathead Area, Northwest Montana, No. 5, Western Flathead County and Part of Lincoln County." Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Bull. 36.

1928 Mineral Resources. pp. 572, 584.

1929 Mineral Resources. pp. 834, 840, 854.

1930 Mineral Resources. pp. 389, 395, 410.

1931 Mineral Resources. pp. 482, 487, 498.

1935 Mineral Yearbook. pp. 42, 145, 151, 165.

1936 Mineral Yearbook. pp. 104, 213.

1937 Mineral Yearbook. pp. 407, 411, 424.

1938 Mineral Yearbook. p. 349.

1939 Mineral Yearbook. pp. 362, 375.

1940 Mineral Yearbook. pp.l, 112, 340, 355.

Mining & Engineering World

1914 Vol. 40, p. 170, January 24.

Mining Journal.

1929 Vol. 13, p. 46, November 30.

1930 Vol. 14, p. 46, August 30.

Mining Truth

1930 Vol. 15-16, p. 17, August 7.

Rowe, J. P.


Geography and Natural Resources of Montana

. Missoula: Montana State University, 1933 (revised 1941).

Sahinen, Uuno Mathias


Mining Districts of Montana

. M. S. thesis, Montana School of Mines.

Sandvig, Robert L.

1947 "General Geology and Mines of Northwestern Montana." B. S. thesis, Montana School of Mines.

Shenon, P. J.

1930 "Northwest Montana - Flathead Mine Is Described by Dr. Shenon."

Mining Truth.

vol. 14, no. 22, p. 24.

Shenon, P. J. and Taylor, A. V., Jr.

1936 "Geology and Ore Occurrence of the Hog Heaven Mining District, Flathead County, Montana." Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Mem. 17.

Siegrist, Inez, compiler


In the Shadow of the Missions

. Ronan: Mission Valley News.

Wolle, Muriel Sibell


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

. Denver: Sage Books.

Young, F. M., et al.

1962 "Marketing Problems of Small Business Enterprises Engaged in Lead and Zinc Mining." Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Bull. 30.