aka Gold Creek

The Rose Mountain mining district includes an area at the headwaters of Gold and Pikes Peak Creek. In these streams in the lower elevations (within the Pioneer mining district), the Gold Creek placers are credited with being the location of the first verified gold strike in Montana. In 1858 James and Granville Stuart along with their friend Reece Anderson found traces of gold in the stream. By 1862 the brothers and their associates were hard at work, working the placers. While the strike sparked a gold rush to Montana and the community of American Fork sprang up along the stream, little actual production occurred and no profit was made from the stream until 1907 (Malone and Roeder 1976).

The MacFarland placer, located near the source of the stream was the largest producer on the stream. Although some mining was reported in 1870, serious development did not begin until 1896. From 1896 to 1913 the placer produced $35,000. The claim was primarily worked by sluices with boulders blasted or lifted out of the stream by a derrick. Gold recovered was about 790 fine with nuggets up to 10 ounces. This placer continued to be worked until 1940 under the name of the Pineau Placer (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Lyden 1948; Fredlund1987). The gold in the stream appears to have originated principally in the veins in Rose Mountain such as the Morning Star, John G. Carlisle and Ophir claims.

The district is in a rugged mountain area that is not easily accessible. The dominant rock in the district is granite. In the lodes, deposition in open spaces is small; such ores consist mainly of quartz calcite, pyrite and chalcopyrite with lesser amounts of galena, sphalerite, and tetrahedrite. Alteration of wall rock has been extensive. Some of the granite is a felty mass of sericite, calcite, quartz and pyrite; the alteration is such that often the original texture is no longer in evidence (Sahinen 1935).

The rise in gold prices during the Great Depression sparked renewed interest in gold placers throughout the west. On the upper middle fork of Gold Creek J. H. Crockett worked the Pineau Placer, six unpatented claims historically known as the MacFarland. In 1934 the hydraulic operation was supported by a 450,000 gallon storage dam and 1.5 miles of ditch which delivered water with 150 foot of head to a #3 Giant nozzle. A 10-ton portable derrick was used to remove boulders and the gravel was washed in 500 feet of 20 x 20 inch sluice boxes. In 1939 the MacFarland placer was worked with a stationary washing plant fed by a power shovel. The operation recovered 23 ounces of gold working gravel reported to carry as much as 40 cents per cubic yard. Total reported placer gold production after 1904 was only $17,000, but true production could be double this figure (Lyden 1948; Gilbert 1935).


Sahinen (1935) describes the Rose Mountain district as the headwaters of Gold Creek and its tributaries. Emmons and Calkins (1913) discuss the prospects at the head of Gold Creek, South Gold Creek and Pikes Peak Creek as a single district, but does not give the district a name beyond that of the creeks. Figure 1 shows the district to include an area on upper Pikes Peak Creek.


Clear Grit

The Clear Grit claim is located about a quarter mile from the Carlisle mine and several hundred feet below. The mine was worked a quartz-pyrite vein from a shaft (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Sahinen 1935).

John C. Carlisle

The John C. Carlisle was located in the basin of Pikes Peak Creek on the east slope of Rose Mountain. It was worked from 1897 to 1899 and was said to have produced $2,500. A 600 foot tunnel through granite worked a 3 to 12 inch fissure filling vein of quartz, galena, pyrite, zinc blende, gray copper, chalcopyrite, and copper carbonates (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Sahinen 1935; Gilbert 1935).

MacFarland or Pineau Placer

Also known as the Pineau Placer, the MacFarland placer is one of the largest producers in the district as well as being the best documented. The placer was located on the upper middle fork of Gold Creek around 1870, but development of the placer did not occur until 1896.

Gus Pineau, Eugeen McFarland and Green Dudley discovered the Friday placer mine in 1895. Shortly thereafter McFarland and Pineau, along two new partners, began mining the other nearby claims. McFarland is credited with the camp associated with the placer. This camp is shown on USGS maps in 1905, 1908 and 1912. When the camp was examined in 1982, the camp consisted of four cabins, one of which was still in occasional use. On the placer itself, decaying flumes were observed (Lindeman et al 1984; Fredlund 1985; 1987).

The camp is credited with $35,000 in gold dust and nuggets between 1896 and 1913. The gold was coarse, about the size of No. 8 buckshot. It has yielded large nuggets, typically 10 ounces, but the largest weighed in at 27 ounces. The gold is valued at $16 to $17 per ounce while the gravel was said to carry about 40 cents gold per yard (Emmons and Calkins 1913).

A #3 hydraulic giant nozzle with 150 feet of head was supplied with water by 1.5 miles of ditches connected to a 450,000 gallon dam on the Middle Fork of Gold Creek. Pineau continued to work the mine as an elderly man. Although he worked the mine on a seasonal basis, the placer is credited with most of the district's $19,000 in gold production between 1926 and 1931. After Pineau's death, Josephine Gilbert inherited the property in 1931. Gilbert continued to work the property and later J. H. Crockett did the same. In 1934, two to four men were reported to be working the claim. By 1935 the placer was credited with $50,000 in production. In 1939 the operation was upgraded with a stationary washing plant fed by a power shovel. A large, irregular-shaped pit was excavated that measured 70,000 square yards surface area and up to 4 yards in depth (Gilbert 1935; Lyden 1948; Lindeman et al 1984; Fredlund 1987).

In 1939 the property was obtained by the Master Mining Company. This company had acquired the patented and unpatented claims in the area. A dam was constructed on the South Fork of Gold Creek and the water was transported through two miles of ditches and flumes to work the gravel. The Master Mining Company through the 1940s and 1950s with a hiatus during World War II. The mine was worked as recently as 1985. A large pit on the property was reclaimed by the Montana Mining and Timber Company around 1987 (Lindeman et al 1984; Fredlund 1985; 1987).


The Majestic mine, located a quarter mile east of the Clear Grit, worked an auriferous quartz pyrite vein. The ore carried up to $30 per ton in gold. Around 1906, W. A. Gilmer developed the mine through several shallow pits and a crosscut tunnel 200 feet long. The tunnel had not reached the mineralized zone when visited around 1906 (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Sahinen 1935).

Morning Star

The Morning Star is at the head of Gold Creek. A crosscut tunnel driven 600 feet mined a vein carrying gold and silver. The workings were inaccessible in 1906 (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Sahinen 1935).


The Ophir is about one mile south of the summit of Rose Mountain. The deposit is in auriferous quartz-pyrite veinlets in altered granite (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Pardee 1933; Sahinen 1935; Walsh 1912).


Calkins, Frank Cathcart, and W. H. Emmons

1915 "Description of the Philipsburg Quadrangle, Montana",

U. S. Geological Survey, Atlas, Philipsburg folio

(no. 196).

Emmons, William Harvey and Frank C. Calkins

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

U. S. Geological Survey, Professional Paper 78.

Fredlund, Lynn

1985 "Cultural Resource Inventory and Assessment: Mineral Exploration along Upper Gold Creek, Granite County, Montana", prepared for Montana Mining and Timber Company, Anaconda by GCM Services, Butte.

1987 "Cultural Resource Inventory and Assessment: in the Upper Gold Creek Valley, Granite County, Montana", prepared for Montana Mining and Timber Company, Anaconda by GCM Services, Butte.

Gilbert, Frederick C.

1935 "Directory of Montana Mining Properties",

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Memoir No. 15

. Montana School of Mines, Butte.

Lindeman, Glen W., Craig Holstine, Ruth Anne Masten and Glenn D. Hartman

1984 "A Cultural Resources Survey of the Bonneville Power Administration's Garrison-Taft 500 kV Transmission Project, Western Montana", Archaological and Historic Services, Eastern Washington University, Reports in Archaeology and History 100-33. Cheney.

Lyden, Charles J.

1948 "The Gold Placers of Montana",

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Memoir 26

. Montana School of Mines, Butte.

Malone, Michael P. and Richard B. Roeder


Montana: A History of Two Centuries

. University of Washington Press, Seattle.

Pardee, Joseph Thomas

1933 "Placer Deposits of the Western United States",

Ore Deposits of the Western States (Lindgren Volume)

, pp. 419-450, American Institute of Mining and Metal Engineering.

Fredlund, Lynn and Jim Duran

1987 "Pioneer/Gold Creek Historic District: A Reconnaissance Inventory", Prepared for the Montana Mining and Timber Company by GCM Services, Butte.

Sahinen, Uuno M.

1935 "Mining Districts of Montana", Thesis, Montana School of Mines, Butte.

Swallow, G. C., J. B. Trevarthen and Jacob Oliver


Reports of Inspectors of Mines, State of Montana, year ending November 30th, 1890

. Journal Publishing Company, Helena.

Walsh, William and William Orem


Biennial Report of Inspector of Mines for 1911-1912


Work Projects Administration (WPA) Mineral Resources Survey

1940 Directory of Montana Mining Properties.

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Memoir No. 20

. Montana School of Mines, Butte.