The Star Meadow mining district is located in Flathead County near Tally Lake in the Flathead National Forest. One or two mines in the district were developed before 1900, but the rest were worked in the 1910s-1940s. There has been very little shipment of ore from the district.
The district is located in an area characterized by Belt formations. The Rocky Mountain trench glacier pushed through this area, burying most of the mountains. Lode deposits in the district are classified as copper-bearing quartz veins (Johns 1962; Alt and Hyndman 1986).
Although some prospectors explored the Tally Lake area prior to the 1890s, the region was not very well known until the Great Northern Railway came through the Flathead Valley in 1892. In 1904 the main line of the railroad was relocated to run along the Stillwater River not far from the mining district. The earliest known resident of the area was "Old Man Tally," who lived in the Tally Lake area by the 1890s, trapping and prospecting. After the Forest Homestead Act of 1906 was passed, a number of homesteaders settled along several creeks in the region, including Griffin Creek, Good Creek, and Oettiker Creek. They purchased goods and sold their homestead products in either Kalispell or Whitefish. Because of the great distance to market and the long winters, many of these homesteads were abandoned and eventually reverted back to the Flathead National Forest (McKay 1994).
Prospecting for placer gold in the area was somewhat successful. Individual water-worn nuggets and other specimens containing rough or gnarled gold were found in the Star Meadow district (Johns 1962).
Abandoned prospects are located in various places. These include one worked in the early 1930s in Section 20, T30N, R24W. Others were located on the north slope of Grubb Mountain (Section 29, T29N, R25W), along a Forest Service trail in Section 13, T30N, R25W, and on the east side of Ingalls Mountain (Johns 1962).
BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT
Sahinen (1935) defined the Star Meadow district as located near Lupfer. He also defined another district, the Whitefish, located 20 miles northwest of Kalispell. According to Johns (1962), the Star Meadows district was located west of Tally Lake, north and south of Sheppard Creek.
HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES
The Blacktail mine was located on a small tributary of Sanko Creek in the NW1/4 of Section 29, T31N, R24W. It was discovered by Frank Lykin of Pleasant Valley after the 1936 Sanko Creek fire burned the vegetation covering the vein. In 1940 Lykin brought in two partners, Helmer Houghland and Andrew Biguel. A short shaft in the creek and a 10-foot adit on the vein in argillite developed the property. The claim then was allowed to lapse, and in 1945 and again in 1961 the claim was relocated. Total production was small with only 36 tons of ore produced. Besides copper, the ore also contained some gold and silver (Johns 1962; 1970).
At the Blue Grouse mine, very small amounts of gold were reported in quartz veins containing pyrite, sericite, and iron oxides, but none had been produced commercially by 1962 (Johns 1962).
The Copper King prospect is located on a ridgetop in the SE1/4 of Section 20, T30N, R24W. The property was located by Lee Bigland in 1946 but subsequently was allowed to lapse. Two shallow pits developed a quartz vein containing small amounts of chalcopyrite (Johns 1962).
The Crosley-Sucetti prospects are located in Section 1, T30N, R25W on a small drainage between Swanson and Swaney. Mr. Crosley of Star Meadow did the initial work prior to 1910, and Mr. Sucetti did addition prospecting and development in the early 1920s. Development of the prospects includes a discovery adit on a quartz-siderite vein and an adit on a hematite-bearing quartz-siderite vein. The properties are in the Piegan and Ravalli Groups of the Precambrian Belt series (Johns 1961).
The Foolsburg mine (also known as the Foolsberg) is located in the SE1/4 of Section 19, T30N, R24W, east of Griffin Creek at the head of Sullivan Creek. The mine was first developed in 1920 by the Stubb brothers, Blanche Lewis, and Nick Searles, and the claim was patented in 1955. Some copper-bearing ore was shipped from the Foolsburg mine in 1931. Total production has been small. The principal development is by adits 240 and 300 feet long on a chalcopyrite-bearing quartz vein. A chip sample in the upper adit assayed 4.87 percent copper; 0.80 ounce silver; and 0.05 ounce gold per ton (Sahinen 1935;
1931; Johns 1961; 1970).
The Griffin Creek prospect was located in Section 19, T30N, R24W, on the west side of the drainage. The property was developed by a trench and a pit in argillite and dolomitic limestone. The work was apparently done in the 1920s or 1930s. A selected sample from the upper pit assayed 1.38 percent copper; a trace of gold; and 0.30 ounce silver per ton (Johns 1962).
The Humdinger claim was located in 1934 between Logan and Johnson Creeks in Section 26, T31N, R24W by Fred, Leroy, Ernie, and Harold Luke. The property is in argillite of the Piegan Group. As of 1960 there had been no production from the prospect, which contained barite and copper in a quartz vein. Development consisted of two pits and a crosscut adit, which was done in the mid-1930s (Johns 1961; 1962).
The Lewis property was located close to the Sullivan claim. The Dakota-Montana Mining Company held the property under lease and developed it. The ore contained about 20 percent copper and "a considerable amount" of gold. The property was opened by two tunnels, 30 and 300 feet long. In 1931 the mine was being developed by a group of local businessmen and was being operated by Glen Sucetti (
The Lucky Strike prospect was discovered by Fred and Ernie Luke between 1915 and 1918. It is located in Section 32, T31N, R24W, north of Sheppard Creek. The prospect is in limestone of the Piegan Group and was being developed in 1962 (Johns 1962).
In 1929 one car of oxidized ore was shipped from the M. C. property (Sahinen 1935).
The Moonlight claim was located near the center of Section 21, T30N, R24W, on the west side of Logan Creek about one mile south of the mouth of Oettiker Creek, by Harold and Carl Luke of Kalispell. Development on quartz veins consisted of several shallow pits. There was no production from the prospect (Johns 1962).
The Luke brothers located the Peacock property 3/4 mile northeast of the Yukon mine. A selected sample assayed 32.4 percent copper; 72.7 ounces silver; and 0.30 ounce gold per ton (Johns 1970).
The Sanko claim was discovered by Fred Sanko prior to the 1930s and is located in the center of Section 28, T31N, R24W. The quartz vein was developed by a pit in the Piegan Group (Johns 1962).
The Sullivan mine (also known as the Ora and possibly the same as the West Virginia mine) was opened in the early 1890s and was located about 10 miles above Tally Lake. It was first worked by Pat Sullivan and David R. Peeler, but they suspended development when they found the lead had been cut off by a fault. In 1901, a 50-foot shaft showed ore containing bornite and gold. A trial shipment at that time gave returns of 17 percent copper, $24 in silver, and $19 in gold. In 1925, Glen Sucetti reopened the mine and discovered a new lead iron and copper sulphide ore combined with an iron oxide. He was still developing the mine in 1931. In 1934, the Bell brothers were leasing the property, known as the Ora by then, and had almost half a car of ore ready to ship after running a crosscut tunnel. Assays showed some of the ore contained as much as $100 per ton in gold, silver, and copper (
The West Virginia property was located prior to 1900 by John Sullivan and Bill Doyle. It is located on the west side of Sullivan Creek in Section 19, T30N, R24W near the top of a small ridge between Sullivan and Griffin Creeks. It was the first property discovered in the district and also the first producer (the high-grade ore had to be packed out by horses). The property was first worked by John and Mike Sullivan and Bill Doyle, who were financed by Kalispell businessman Charles Conrad; Sucetti did some drifting in the 1920s. Total production amounted to 60 tons of ore (one carload). Bornite was the essential copper mineral mined, although chalcopyrite was present in possible commercial quantities. The veins were developed by two shafts, an adit, a cut, and some trenching. High-grade ore reportedly assayed 1 ounce gold, 50% copper, and about 200 ounces silver per ton (Johns 1961; 1962; 1970).
There are several abandoned prospects located within 1/4 mile of the West Virginia mine. One adit was reportedly driven around 1931 by Kalispell prospectors. Art Stahl in 1904 located and did some development work on a prospect about 1/4 mile north of the West Virginia mine (near the section line between Sections 18 and 19, T30N, R24W). Stahl developed the prospect with a 60-foot adit, and the ore bodies assayed high in copper and silver (Johns 1961; 1962; 1970).
The Wort prospect is located in Section 11, T31N, R23W, seven miles northwest of Whitefish and a short distance south of the Great Northern Railway tracks. The development work was reportedly done during the early 1930s. The veins were developed by a 145-foot shaft. The workings are in lower Piegan argillite. A vein exposed by a drift reportedly assayed 4% copper and traces of lead and gold (Johns et al. 1963).
The Yukon mine was located by Fred and Ernie Luke in 1929 in Section 1, T30N, R25W (one mile west of Star Meadow). Development included a crosscut adit, a pit, and a shaft. The ore-bearing vein contains chalcopyrite, chrysocolla, and tenorite in a quartz-siderite matrix. The property is in Piegan sediments, and the country rock contains considerable manganese oxide staining. Some ore from the mine was shipped in the late 1930s and reportedly averaged $27.00 per ton in copper (Johns 1961).
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
Alt, David, and Donald W. Hyndman
Roadside Geology of Montana
. Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing Company.
1931 "Flathead's Mining Developing Is Increasing In Large Proportions." June 18, p. 5.
1934 "Development of Ora Star Meadows Mine." July 5, p. 8.
Johns, Willis M. 1961 ""Progress Report on Geologic Investigations in the Kootenai-Flathead Area, Northwest Montana." Butte: Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Bull 23.
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.
1901 "Flathead Mining Industry." December 18, p. 13.
McKay, Kathryn L.
1994 "Trails of the Past: Historical Overview of the Flathead National Forest, 18001960." Prepared for the Flathead National Forest, Kalispell, Montana.
1931 p. 498.
1931 Vol. 15, p. 33, Nov. 30.
Sahinen, Uuno Mathias
Mining Districts of Montana
. M. S. thesis, Montana School of Mines.