HISTORIC CONTEXT

aka Princeton

aka Cleek aka Mount Powell (sub-district)

On July 8, 1868, Daniel Brown, his brother Emanuel (Sandy), and Don Chisholm, who were prospectors from Philipsburg, discovered several silver deposits in the Boulder Creek drainage. They had crossed the head of Stewart Gulch and prospected their way down the South Fork of Boulder Creek and then up Boulder Creek itself to where they located the Aurora, Pioneer and the Princeton lodes. That fall they constructed cabins and began developing their lodes which produced ore values of $50 per ton. The Boulder district was soon established (Periman and Decco 1994).

While the stream carried good gold values, the presence of numerous boulders made sluicing or dredging impracticable. The gold was concentrated within 18 inches of bedrock. In the Summit placer, about two miles above Boulder Creek, a coyote mine drifted along bedrock beneath 22 feet of overburden. On the Princeton claim, bench gravels have been worked by driving an adit and sinking a shaft (Lyden 1948).

The area is in a mountainous area composed of tilted sedimentary rocks dating from the Algonkian to Mesozoic ages. Biotite granite has intruded into these rocks. Fissure veins in the granite and sedimentary rocks outcrop to the surface. Although not easily categorized, these veins are for the most part fissure fillings, but in some the wall rock has been mineralized. Some veins, including the Powell and Tussel veins were faulted after deposition of the ore. Gold, silver, copper and lead are the main mineral values. The Royal, Sunday, Bluebird, Gold Reef, and Gold Hill are on gold-bearing veins with little silver. The Nonpariel, Princeton, Tussle, Albion, Mountain Lion and Goat Mountain are on silver or silver-lead deposits with little gold. The Jefferson vein is a low-grade copper deposit (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Sahinen 1935).

Lode mines came relatively late, considering the district's early start. This is due in part to the presence of easier, more promising lode claims nearby in Philipsburg. While Philipsburg's fortunes waxed and waned, the Brown brothers and Don Chisholm continued to work their claims under the guise of the Princeton Lode Mines. They located the Mediterranean lode in 1874. As with other miners they had visions of development. They sought outside sources of capital, but the Panic of 1873 drove prospective investors from the market. In 1878 the miners managed to get mining expert J. K. Pardee to invest in the Saranac claim. But with the rapid reawakening of Philipsburg in the 1880s, the South Boulder district was once again overshadowed (Periman and Decco 1994).

In 1881 the Boulder Creek mines were rediscovered. During a spring hunting trip John Hinkey and Peter Pierre of Philipsburg discovered silver in chunks of quartz in the roots of an overturned tree. A "Boulder Creek rush" ensued and the valley and hills were covered with claims. One prospector, Thomas Godfrey, became the self-appointed promoter of the district. He renamed the stream Clear Creek and divided the district into three camps: the Powell mines at the base of Thunderbolt Mountain; the Hickey camp at the juncture of Copper, Little Gold and Royal Creeks with "Clear Creek"; and the lower camp of Princeton (Periman and Decco 1994).

The rediscovery and resultant publicity finally launched the capitalization of the Princeton Mines. In 1882 Francis W. H. Medhurst organized the Princeton Mining Company. The company was a subsidiary of the Lexington Mining Company of Butte; the Lexington in turn was owned by a French syndicate. In 1883 the company claimed the Boulder and the Clear Creek placers. The company purchased the Princeton, Saranac and Mediterranean mines for $200,000, and began to develop the Princeton claim. Fifty men were employed extracting $40 per ton silver ore. The Saranac, Princeton, Princeton 3 and 4 were surveyed and several other claims were patented beginning in 1884. Although a 20-stamp mill was proposed in 1885, interest waned and the mine was leased out (Periman and Decco 1994; Wolle 1963).

The Princeton camp was located 6 miles by wagon road above Flint on the Clear Creek placer (MS #1479). The town was originally named Medhurst, but quickly assumed the name of the mine. It was described as six log and three frame structures housing the mine workers and their families. At one time the camp was the center of considerable mining activity and was awarded a post office in 1884 (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Periman and Decco 1994).

In 1892 the Royal Mining Company opened the Royal mine near the Princeton. When they erected a 10-stamp amalgamating mill, the town of Princeton began to grow. Because the mine was working gold, it was unaffected by the plunge of silver prices in 1893. In 1895, W. A. Clark bought out Willard Bennett's Royal Mine stock for $120,000. The mill was expanded to 300 tons and equipped with flotation cells. In 1899, a 20 ton smelter was constructed at Princeton. While silver camps withered and died, Princeton became an active center of mining and trade. It boasted a general store, a saloon, a butcher shop, a restaurant and a hotel named the "Princeton House". By the turn of the century 200 people lived in the district with 66 residents in Princeton. The Royal mine and town of Princeton continued to prosper until 1906. That year the Royal Mining Company ended its activity in the district and leased out their mine (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Periman and Decco 1994).

Despite its slow start, by 1907 the district had reportedly produced between $1,250,000 and $1,500,000. This production was primarily from the Royal mine. However, the Brooklyn, Gold Reef and Nonpareil were also producing mines. The Brooklyn, an old silver-lead property, shipped considerable ore during the winter of 1908-09. At the Gold Reef mine, free-milling ores were worked on site with a 35 ton stamp mill and a 10 ton cyanide mill. In 1912 a 5-stamp mill was still in operation. The Sunday mill had 25 ton cyanide plant and a 3.5 foot Huntington mill rated at five short tons per day. The 100 ton North Star mill was a sulfuric leaching plant outfitted with two crushers, two roller mills, and four leaching tanks. The 30 ton Gold Reef cyanidation mill had six stamps and a 40 ton cyanide plant. The 50 ton Mount Royal cyanide mill had 20 stamps. The 20-stamp, 60 ton Crescent amalgamation and cyanidation mill had plates and Dorr classifiers (Ferguson 1908; Hall and Rickman 1912; Wolle 1963).

From 1907 to World War I the mines and mills in the district slowly withered. In 1916 some of the old tailings were reworked at a profit. Even a brief surge in interest and production during World War I could not stop the slide. In 1918 Princeton lost its post office. Some subsistence mining occurred in the district in the 1920s, but all of the ore was shipped to Anaconda or Butte for treatment. The Montana placer, below Princeton, reported some production in the 1930s and 1940s (Periman and Decco 1994).

After the 1940s, the cabins formerly occupied by miners became used as recreational property, often by the families of the former occupants. The town of Princeton, the Moonlight mine, and the Royal Basin Mine and Mill have been determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (Periman and Decco 1994).

Mount Powell Mines Sub-district

On the west slope of Racetrack Peak at an altitude of 8,000 to 8,500 feet are the Mount Powell mines. This group of five claims is at the head of South Boulder Creek. The mines were discovered around 1900 and by 1907 when visited by Emmons and Calkins the mines had 2,500 feet of underground development. The property reported production in 1914, 1916, 1918, and 1919. Total ore was about 500 tons which had a value of $16,000 (Earll 1972).

BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT

The Boulder Creek district is one of the oldest mining districts in Montana. The district is about 15 miles long and contains Boulder Creek and its tributaries (Periman and Decco 1994). Emmons and Calkins (1913) discuss a number of mines situated in the basin of Boulder Creek which joins Flint Creek near Flint station. Sahinen (1935) describes the district as a "broad but indefinitely delineated mineralized area" centering around Princeton which is six miles southwest of Flint.

Lyden (1948) places the placer district within Princeton Gulch, a southwest flowing tributary of Boulder Creek. The stream carries gold its entire length. Placer production from Little Gold Creek is insignificant.

Figure 1 shows the district as defined by the AMRB (1994) which essentially corresponds to the description by Periman and Decco (1994) and Sahinen (1935). The Mount Powell sub-district is shown as well.

HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES

Bloomington

The Bloomington mine is about half a mile southwest of the Royal mine. A crosscut tunnel was driven 875 feet south to intersect four veins in granite. The widest vein is 400 feet from the portal and is composed of quartz, pyrite, and galena. Ore was also extracted from several small stopes (Emmons and Calkins 1913).

The Bloomington mill was constructed at the mine in 1896. It was a 10-stamp amalgamation plant equipped with vanners. After only three months, the mill was shut down and was in ruins when described in 1913 (Emmons and Calkins 1913).

Brooklyn

The Brooklyn, formerly the Pierre, is located 2 miles above Princeton on the south slope of Pierre Hill. The mine consisted of 12 unpatented claims and was developed through a 600 foot adit driven northward through limestone and shales. The adit intersects a porphyry dike 500 feet from the portal. Ores from the dike contain pyrite, and nodules and bunches of lead ore. Ore has also been extracted from a shaft above the adit. Although earlier production is assumed, a 80 ton lot was shipped to the smelter in 1907; it returned 37 ounces silver per ton and averaged 13 percent zinc, 8 percent lead and 1.7 percent copper. The mine continued production during the winter of 1908-09; 700 feet of development work was done and a considerable amount of ore from three shoots was shipped. Whitworth, Garron and New of Philipsburg, owners of the mine, further developed the mine by sinking a winze on a high-grade silver ore shoot (Walsh 1910; Emmons and Calkins 1913).

The mine resumed production in 1914. The next year, G. G. Thomas and C. E. Jury of Toronto examined the mine. At the time a lower adit was being driven and a zinc concentration plant was being erected. The next summer the Spokane people who were working the mine announced striking a good copper / silver vein; the 6 foot vein was encountered at a depth of 280 feet. The 100-ton concentrator was noted as being nearly completed. The mine continued to produce until 1918 and then intermittently through the 1920s (Mining World 1909; 1915; 1916; Emmons and Calkins 1913; MMI).

In 1935 the mine was in the hands of the Brooklyn Consolidated Mines Co. of Maxville and was being leased to W. M. Talmadge. The development was listed as a 150 foot shaft, 115 feet of raises, five adits (200 to 1,400 feet in length), 800 feet of drifts and 300 feet of crosscuts. The owner reported that 500,000 tons of ore had been stoped. Surface improvements were listed as a 6 x 8 foot ball mill powered by a gas engine, eight log cabins, blacksmith shop, boarding house, power house, and two barns. While six men had been employed at the mine, the operation was idle in 1935. The mine resumed production in 1938 and continued into the 1940s (Gilbert 1935; WPA 1941).

Bryan and Banker

The Bryan and Banker mine is on the south slope of Boulder Creek canyon just south of Princeton. Ores from the mine include quartz, galena, lead carbonate and zinc blende. The mine has produced $1,000 from two narrow veins in limestone (Sahinen 1935).

Ethel B.

The Ethel B. was formerly known as the Bluebird claim. It was relocated in the 1930s when it was developed by Claude N. Bielenberg of Maxville. The property consists of three patented and four unpatented claims on Little Gold Creek .5 mile north of the Royal and Sunday mines. The mine produced gold ore out of a 472 foot adit and an open cut. The ore was stoped out of an eight inch vein assaying at $163 per ton and a two foot vein producing $32 per ton ore. The mine reported production from 1934 to 1940.

Gold Hill

The Gold Hill mine is situated about a mile and a quarter southwest of Princeton on the north end of the ridge between Swamp Gulch Creek and South Boulder Creek. It was worked in the early 1890s. The mine was developed through five shallow shafts on the vein. Ore consists of quartz, calcite, and iron oxide and is locally stained with copper carbonate (Emmons and Calkins 1913).

The Gold Hill mill was on the road between the mine and Princeton. The plant is equipped with a Huntington mill and amalgamation plates. Only a few hundred tons of ore were processed because of the loss of values in the tails (Emmons and Calkins 1913).

Gold Reef

The Gold Reef mine is a group of four claims up Flint Creek. It was first developed by the Gold Reef Mining company in 1905 and continued production until 1908. When the Huckleberry Lode Claim (MS #7101) was patented in 1905 developments at the mine were listed as a discovery shaft, office, bunkhouse, mill and mess cabin. The 50-ton mill and cyanide plant was erected to work the iron oxide ores for their gold values. Two tunnels of 700 and 500 feet were excavated onto the lode. The ore was conveyed to the mill by a gravity tram. The mill was equipped with six Hendy quadruple-discharge stamps and amalgamation plates. Half of the ore value was recovered on the plates. In the summer of 1906 a 20-ton cyanide plant was added to treat the tailings. This new plant recovered 70 percent of the escaped values (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Beck 1984).

In 1910 the mine employed 25 miners and the tunnels had been extended to 800 and 700 feet. In 1912, three tunnels of 400, 725 and 900 feet were actively worked. The mine revived briefly in 1915 - 16 and in 1938 - 39; it was actively discussed in the mining literature from 1903 to 1906 with sporadic articles in 1908, 1910 and 1911 (Walsh 1906; 1910; 1912; WPA 1941).

Mountain Lion

The Mountain Lion is located about 1.25 miles above Princeton on the east slope of Princeton Gulch. The mine has produced $3,000 of silver and lead from a 30 foot stope in a sheeted zone of quartzite (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Sahinen 1935).

Nonpareil

The Nonpareil mine is located on Boulder Creek, 1.5 miles above Princeton. It was discovered in 1886 and was actively worked from 1891 to 1893. The mine has reportedly produced $50,000 from a vein in limestone. The workings were developed through a 280 foot shaft with levels at 100 and 280 feet. An air shaft, 120 feet northwest of the main shaft, provided ventilation. Nodules of galena were observed a few feet from the surface and extended to the bottom of the mine (Ferguson 1908; Emmons and Calkins 1913; Sahinen 1935).

Princeton

The Princeton mine is situated at the junction of Princeton Gulch and Boulder Creek Canyon. It was the first mineral discovery in the Boulder Creek district. In 1868 it was discovered by the Brown brothers and Don Chisholm. Although the mine was worked in a small way for several years, it was largely overshadowed by the silver mines of Philipsburg. A coyote adit was driven nearby on the Montana claim to work bench placer gravels. The mine was worked intermittently until 1882 when it was obtained by the Princeton Mining Company and actively developed by a French syndicate through their Lexington Mining Company in Butte. The company employed 40 men extracting silver ore from limestone from a deep shaft. Sometime after 1885 the mine was leased out. It is unlikely the silver mine survived through 1893 when silver prices plummeted. While the mine was only in heavy production for a few years, it became the nucleus of the small community of Princeton which had significance beyond that of the mine (Sahinen 1935; Periman and Decco 1994).

Royal

The Royal mine is on a small tributary of Boulder Creek about 5 miles from Princeton. A 10-stamp mill was erected on the property in 1892. In 1895 the mine was operated by the Royal Gold Mining Company. Fourteen miners and two topmen were employed in the operation; one of the miners, John Phalen was killed by an explosion on July 13, 1895. A 1,200 foot gravity tramway transported free-milling gold ore to a 10-stamp mill. The mineral deposit was developed through 5 drift tunnels driven one above the other on the ridge; their combined length was listed at 8,000 feet. The longest was 1,600 feet and the shortest was 800 feet. In 1898 20 men were employed extracting ore from two of the tunnels. The mine's main production continued through the turn of the century. In 1906 the old No. 3 tunnel of the mine was worked under lease (Shoemaker 1896; Byrne 1899; Walsh 1906;

Mining World

1905).

Ore was pulled from a gold-bearing fissure vein in granite. Ores included quartz, pyrite and galena that carried from $8 to $200 per ton. In tunnel No. 2 about 500 feet from the portal a dike of granite porphyry was cut. While the dike was not mineralized, the mine's best ore was extracted from either side of it. Stopes in this ore reached grassroot level. The Royal mine was intermittently active in 1907 -08, 1916 - 17, 1926, 1918, 1931, and 1940; it was actively discussed in the mining literature from 1905 through 1916. It produced about $1 million in its history (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Sahinen 1935; WPA 1941).

Near the Royal mine, the Royal mill was equipped with a Blake crusher, 10 stamps, amalgamation plates, and four Frue vanners. The amalgamation and concentration recovered a good portion of the ore's mineral values. The plant was said to have processed 800 tons. Because the slimes were discharged into the creek and not into a tailings pond, they settled on a flats about a mile below the mill. In the summer of 1906, parties other than the owners of the mine and mill filed on the tailings. They erected a plant with six 50-ton cyanide tanks that returned 70 percent of the $2.80 per ton values of the tailings (Emmons and Calkins 1913).

Sunday

The Sunday mine which adjoins the Royal on the north was discovered in 1900 and actively worked in 1902. The mine was developed from an incline shaft that intersects an adit. The adit follows a vein eastward for 940 feet. A second level below the adit was said to have a vein 1 foot wide with high grade gold ore. This level was underwater when the mine was visited in 1907. A second tunnel was begun, but by 1910 all work was confined to the original 1,200 foot long tunnel. Around 1912 an amalgamation mill was built below the shaft house to treat the ore. The mine had recorded production in 1908, 1911-14, 1920, 1935, and 1938-1940; it was actively discussed in the mining literature from 1902 to 1905 with occasional articles in 1910 and 1913. The mine is reported to have produced $73,000 from gold veins in granite (Walsh 1910; Emmons and Calkins 1913; Sahinen 1935).

The mill at the mine was equipped with a rock crusher, a Huntington mill, and amalgamation plates. The plant was not efficient in extracting mineral values since the tails were said to carry several dollars per ton in gold.

Tussle

The Tussell mine is located about 1 mile northeast of the Royal mine. It was located in 1904 by Frank Wahlgren. From 1904-06 the mine produced $12,000 in gold, copper, and lead from a 3 foot wide fissure vein in granite. Ores carried 30 ounces of silver, $2 in gold per ton along with 2 percent lead and zinc. The mine was developed from a 160 foot incline shaft with short levels at 22, 65 and 110 feet. The lowest level was underwater when the mine was examined (Emmons and Calkins 1913; Sahinen 1935).

Emmons and Calkins (1913) and Sahinen (1935) also mention the Albion, Bloomington, Bluebird, Caroline, Goat Mountain, Iron Mountain, Jefferson, Mayflower, Powell, Rombauer, Sixteen to One, and Travonia. Gilbert (1935) mentions the Gold King and Gold Mountain.

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