HISTORIC CONTEXT

The Amazon district, a sub-district of the greater Basin district, is located six miles north of Boulder along the western side of the Boulder Valley. The district's first activity occurred in the 1870s as the placers in the Boulder Valley began to be worked out. The district was most active from 1872 to the late 1880s. The Australia, Australian, Bismark, Magna Charta, Paul Jones, Amazon, Spencer and Robert Emmet were the most active mines prior to 1885.

The topography of the region is characterized by well-rounded hills with an average elevation between 5,000 and 6,000 ft. Bedrock consists of quartz monzonite of the Boulder batholith overlain by andesite. Both andesite and quartz monzonite are cut by rhyolite dikes. Veins of the district are considered to be eastward extensions of the Comet and Rumley veins of the High Ore sub-district. The ores are complex and contain values in gold, silver and lead with some amounts of copper and arsenic.

By 1890 several mines were once again shipping ore regularly, the Bamboo Chief (Boulder Chief), the Mono, Pilot, Amazon and Van Armin. While none of the mines were large producers, they continued production intermittently throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Peak periods of production were in 1911-1912, 1917, 1923, 1935-1937, 1940-1943 and 1951. Total production recorded from 1906 to 1953 included 5,478 tons of ore which yielded 1,043 ounces of gold; 70,599 ounces of silver; 49,445 pounds of copper; 193,953 pounds of lead; and 22,536 pounds of zinc with a combined worth of $119,861 (Roby 1960; Swallow 1891).

BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT

Discussion of boundaries for the Amazon district are not common in the historic literature. Becraft (1963) states that the Boulder, Cataract and Amazon districts are not geographic or geologic units and that the mines in them have been included in different districts by different authors. However, Roby (1960) was willing to set artificial boundaries (Figure 1) and described the district as:

within sections 32, 33 and 34 T7N, R4W and sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9 in T6N, R4W. The district is bordered on the east by the Butte-Helena highway and on the west by a ridge between the High Ore and Upper Amazon Creek drainage. The northern boundary is an arbitrary east-west line between Portal and Amazon (Portal is a station on the Great Northern railroad at the entrance to the Wickes Tunnel).

HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES

The following mines are discussed as being in the Amazon district although the Boulder Chief is technically in the Cataract district and the Robert Emmett in the Colorado district.

Amazon

The Amazon mine is located on the west side of the Boulder Valley, four miles north of Boulder. An 1872 report on the mine mentioned a 5 to 10 ft vein of galena and brown carbonate, assaying $150 in silver and 65 percent lead. In 1882 a Mr. Nave built a mill at Boulder to treat Amazon ore. The red iron oxide ore produced values in gold and silver-lead. The mine was worked intermittently throughout its history. In 11 years between 1915 and 1939, primarily in 1919, 1920, and 1928, the mine produced 234 tons of ore containing 49 ounces of gold, 1,892 ounces of silver, 569 pounds of copper and 28,713 pounds of lead (Knopf 1913; Pardee and Schrader 1933; Roby 1960).

Australia

The Australia mine (MS 556) is located west of the Australian about one and a quarter mile east of the Comet mine in High Ore Gulch. The deposit was discovered in 1873 and worked until 1895. It was developed from two adits and a 70 ft shaft. In 1872 the mine was reported to have exposed a 2 to 3 ft vein of iron and lead ores assaying $60 to $150 per ton. The mine's only recorded production is 60 tons from the early 1870s, but is popularly credited with $500,000 worth of ore. From 1911 to 1919 it was sporadically in production with less than a thousand tons of extracted ore. No production was recorded after 1919 (Becraft 1963; Roby 1960).

Australian

The Australian mine (MS 397) is located east of the Australia mine. The mine was developed from two 60 ft shafts located about 200 ft apart. No production records are available before 1908; after which the mine was active only intermittently. In the eight years the mine operated between 1908 and 1951, it produced 692 tons of ore which yielded 122 ounces of gold, 8,999 ounces of silver, 3,613 pounds of copper, 76,783 pounds of lead and 21 pounds of zinc (Roby 1960).

Baltimore

The Baltimore mine (MS# 1540) is located in section 7, T6N R4W on the east slope of Boomerang Creek canyon about four miles northwest of Boulder. The Baltimore was the district's largest and most consistent producer; it was active 38 of the 50 years between 1903 and 1953. In 1903 the mine was reported to be making regular shipments of ore to the smelters and was leased for $20,000. In 1906 the mine was worked by Moore and Gendle. The next year it was reported that an eighteenth interest in the mine sold for $10,000. In 1914, lessees reported shipping a sulphide ore that carried $2.00 in gold and 25 ounces of silver per ton along with 7 percent lead and 2 percent copper. The mine continued to be worked intermittently by lessees. In 1933 the mine was sold by Peter McDermott to Wallace, Idaho operators.

The mine was developed out of at least six adits and in 1907, it was worked through a 140 foot shaft and had 2,000 feet of workings. When visited by Knopf in 1911, the mine was being worked from the lowest adit. The next year, the mine was leased by Charles Whitcomb & J. H. Mulligan who employed 60 men extending the mine 600 feet and extracting ore. Two adits were listed at 500 and 600 feet. In 1935 the mine listed four adits which ranged from 300 to 750 feet in length; the underground workings were estimated at 3,000 feet of drifts and crosscuts within a zone of 1,000 feet horizontally and 300 feet vertically. The mine was cut through aplite in quartz monzonite to reach short irregular veins with numerous branches. The branches could swell up to six to eight feet in width. In 1918, when the mine was mapped, two groups of veins were represented. Ore in the veins consisted of pyrite with sphalerite, galena and chalcopyrite (Knopf 1913; Gilbert 1935; Roby et al. 1960).

The mine produced 18,148 tons of ore which yielded 1,734 ounces of gold; 275,489 ounces of silver; 271,266 pounds of copper; 1,263,965 pounds of lead and 280,750 pounds of zinc (Roby et al. 1960).

Bismark

The Bismark mine (MS 322)

was developed through two adits between 1872 and 1892. An early report (1872) mentions a 4 ft vein of galena and milling ores from which 40 tons had been shipped. Later ore averaged 0.25 ounces gold and 19 ounces of silver per ton with 8.9 percent lead and 6.4 percent copper. The mine was worked intermittently between 1922 and 1938. In the 11 years of this period with recorded production, 1,342 tons of ore yielded 258 ounces of gold, 23,721 ounces of silver, 540 pounds of copper and 28,840 pounds of lead (Becraft 1963; Roby 1960).

Boulder Chief

The Boulder Chief mine was claimed in June of 1888 and worked by the Cataract Mining Company in the early 1890s. Located on Mount Thompson it is variously attributed to the Amazon and to the Cataract sub-districts. Originally a horse whim raised ore out of the shaft. Later the mine had a two compartment shaft that was 350 ft deep. Levels were cut at the 150, 250, 300 and 350 levels with an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 ft of crosscuts and drifts. In 1891 14 men were employed at the mine and the ore was treated in East Helena. A small amount of lead, silver and copper were produced between 1913 and 1917 (Becraft 1963; Hogan 1891; Passman 1985; Roby 1960).

Free Enterprise

The Free Enterprise, also known as the Silver Bell (MS# 10857), is located in section 19 T6N, R4W two miles northwest of Boulder at an altitude of 5,520 feet. Initially, the mine produced a small amount of silver ore. However, in 1949 the mine was reactivated when radioactive materials were discovered in the dumps (Roby et al. 1960).

Molly McGregor

The Molly McGregor, or the Emma Bell, is located in sections 6 and 7, T6N, R4W about half a mile north of the Baltimore mine and one mile southwest of Comet. The mine was first opened by A. G. Clarke & Co. who sank a 200 foot shaft and erected a large mill on the property. Unable to find paying ore, operations were suspended. The mine was next worked in 1889 by eight men employed by W. A. Bumby, George Ham & others who had a lease on the mine. Several loads of ore were sent to the Helena Sampling Works with satisfactory results. Under the conditions of the lease, the shaft was to be extended to the 300 foot level, necessitating pumps. The mine's earliest reported production was recorded in 1911. The mine was also active for four years in the 1920s and in 1940. However, total production was only 200 tons of ore with 65 ounces of gold, 2,364 ounces of silver, 315 pounds of copper, and 33,353 pounds of lead recovered. In 1940, the mine was listed in the Amazon district under the name Adolphus. The mine was developed from five adits and five shafts. The adits range from 50 to 500 feet and shafts range from 40 to 100 feet. Although the mine was caved at the time it was visited in 1960, the dumps showed galena and pyrite in large amounts (Swallow 1889; WPA 1941; Roby et al. 1960).

New York

The New York mine overlooks Amazon Creek from the 5,920 ft level. The first entry noted for the mine was in 1880. The property was acquired by the Consolidated Virginia Mining Company in 1885. Little information is available for the mine, when it was visited in 1985 only a collapsed portal remained (Passman 1985).

Robert Emmet

The Robert Emmet or Robert Emmett mine is located two miles south of Wickes on the south side of the Wickes-Boulder divide, near the road between Wickes and Amazon. The mine was worked by the Robert Emmet Mining Company. The plant which employed 25 men is credited as the first in the district to be electrically driven. The mine had a 500 ft shaft with levels at 200 and 350 ft which connected to a 600 ft long tunnel. The ore was a sulphide carrying copper, silver and lead values; the country formation was granite. The mine was worked intermittently in 1916, 1926, and 1953 and the dump reworked in 1947. Production for those years totalled 122 tons of ore yielding 1 ounce of gold, 1,151 ounces of silver, 2,711 pounds of copper, 5,897 pounds of lead and 7,356 pounds of zinc (Becraft 1963; Roby 1960; Knopf 1913; Pardee and Schrader 1933;Walsh 1910).

Silver Star

In 1909 the Amazon Montana Development Company began work on the Silver Star group of claims. The main claims, the Silver Star and Pilot, were originally developed prior to 1900, but the production is unknown. Development included a two compartment shaft sunk 300 ft. The vein at that depth has very high grade of ore. A 700 ft tunnel was driven to connect with the shaft. The operation was electrically powered and employed 21 men (Walsh 1910; Becraft 1963).

Van Armin

The Van Armin mine is about 2,000 ft east of the Bismark mine. It is credited with about $480,000 worth of ore, but has not been worked since 1896. When the workings were reopened in 1956, the adit was found to be 900 ft long with a 150 ft connecting shaft. The adit follows a strong quartz vein that is up to 8 ft wide (Becraft 1963; Roby 1960).

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