aka State Creek

The Big Foot mining district, like many of the lesser districts in Montana, serves more to separate producing districts, than to have an identity of its own. The district is located at the geometrical center of the Boulder batholith. It is about 10 miles south of Boulder and includes the drainages of Big Foot, State and Beaver Creeks, tributaries of Little Whitetail Creek which flows into the Jefferson River. Little placer activity has occurred in the district. In 1934-35 a single placer miner was reported to have recovered 0.4 and 0.14 ounces of gold in the two seasons (Lyden 1948).

Country rock in the district is the quartz monzonite of the Boulder Batholith. Replacement veins strike east-west, and some contain considerable altered granite between small fissures. Ore deposits are of two kinds: complex gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc ore; and siliceous gold ore with small amounts of silver. The Big Four ore bodies typify the complex ore whereas the State group contains siliceous gold ore (Roby et al 1960).

Lode mining in the district is primarily from two properties, the Big Four and the State. The Big Four was most productive in the late 1920's up to 1930, but had some production as late as 1940. The mine is credited with almost 1,600 tons of ore. The State mine was also active in the 1920's. It is credited with 544 tons of ore which yielded 384 ounces of gold. The gold veins on the State claim were said to be the source of the district's placer gold ( Roby et al 1960).

A 1976 cultural resource inventory also revealed other small mines in the area that left no trace in the historic record. At one mine (24JF95) in SW section 12, evidence of a mill on the site was noted (Haun 1976).


Sahinen (1935) places the district at the headwaters of Bigfoot and State Creeks. Lyden (1948) places the district on Bigfoot Creek. Roby et al (1960) place the Big Foot - State Creek district in T4N R5W. Figure 1 shows the district as defined by Sahinen (1935).


Beaver Creek Placer

The Beaver Creek placer (24JF99) located along Beaver Creek in Section 14, T4N R5W was examined in 1976. At the time the remains of the mine consisted of two log cabins, four mine shafts and numerous other structures. The identification of one of the claims as that of the Ajax indicates that the mine was historically known as the Big Four (Haun 1976).

Big Four

The Big Four property is located in sections 7, 12, 13, 14, T4N R5W. The group consists of six patented claims: The Hoosier Boy (MS# 4060), Big Four (MS# 6909), Terror (MS# 6911), Nickel Plate (MS# 6912), Searchlight (MS# 9275) and Ajax. The property was developed by a 100 foot shaft on the Hoosier Boy and Ajax claims and a 180 foot shaft on the Big Four claim. The latter shaft had levels at 40, 60, and 100 feet. Inspection of the dump revealed galena, sphalerite, pyrite, chalcopyrite in a quartz gangue. The mine was most active in the late 1920's to 1930. Total production from 1920 to 1945 was 1,577 tons of ore which reduced to 84 ounces of gold, 7,236 ounces of silver, 4,037 pounds of copper, 272,203 pounds of lead and 123,699 pounds of zinc. The mine reached its peak of production in 1929 (Roby et al. 1960; WPA 1941).


The State mine is in the NE quarter of section 16, T4N, R5W. The mine, which dates from the 1920's, has produced more gold than any other mine in the district and was reported by Lyden (1948) to be the possible source of the gold found in Bigfoot Creek in the early 1930s. The mine was developed by a series of adits on the vein at 100 feet intervals. Minerals observed on the dump include pyrite, chalcopyrite in quartz along with lesser amounts of galena. The mine was active for a total of 14 years between 1920 and 1940, but produced only 544 tons of ore. This yielded 384 ounces of gold, 2,594 ounces of silver, 5,075 pounds of copper and 6,885 pounds of lead (Roby et al 1960; Lyden 1948; WPA 1941).


GCM Services, Inc.

1992 "Cultural Resource Inventory and Evaluation on Bureau of Land Management Land US West Fiber Optics Project #2145006 and #2145007, Helena, Montana to Whitehall, Montana", prepared for Dubray Land Services, Inc. by GCM Services.

Haun, Alan E.

1976 "Archaeological Investigation Beaver Creek Timber Sale", Deerlodge National Forest.

Lyden, Charles J.

1948 "The Gold Placers of Montana", Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Memoir 26 . Montana School of Mines, Butte.

Roby, R. N., W. C. Ackerman, F. B. Fulkerson and F. A. Crowley

1960 Mines and Mineral Deposits (Except Fuels), Jefferson County, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Bulletin 16, Montana School of Mines, Butte, Montana.

Sahinen, Uuno M.

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

Steere, Peter L.

1981 "Cultural Resource Inventory and Evaluation Project Elk Park - Bernice Realignment I-13-3(11)143", prepared for Montana Highway Department by the Montana Tech Alumni Foundation, Mineral Research Center, Butte.

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

1891 Reports of Inspectors of Mines, State of Montana, year ending November 30th, 1890. Journal Publishing Company, Helena.

Work Projects Administration (WPA) Mineral Resources Survey

1941 Montana Mine Index, An Alphabetical Index Arranged by Counties, Districts and Mines of Information on Montana Mines from 1867-1940. Montana School of Mines, Butte.