Mineral properties in the Tizer Basin on the northeast slope of the Elkhorn Mountains are extremely inaccessible. Most routes into the area are foot or pack trails; one bad jeep trail enters the area from the north. The Wilson-Tizer Creek area is often included as part of or a sub-district of, the Elkhorn mining district. The primary mines of the Elkhorn district are to the southwest, on the other side of the divide.

The Wilson-Tizer Creek area is most noted for the gold placers discovered along the headwaters of Crow Creek (Wilson Creek) in 1858, the same year as the Stuart brothers placer activities on Gold Creek and four years before the rush to Bannock. The placer deposits in Moose and Wilson Creek were first extensively worked in 1865 by Dr. A. F. Rudd, but the area was given over to the Chinese from the 1870s to 1875. A second period of mining occurred in the 1890s. No records exist for the first or second periods of production, indeed, little evidence exists for the subdistrict. Until 1989, Ruddville, the principal community was little mentioned in the historic literature. The existence of another Wilson Creek with placers which is also in Jefferson County further confuses the issue (Cory 1933; Roby 1960; Klepper 1957; Stone 1911).

The sub-district is located several miles to the east of the Boulder batholith. The bedrock in the area is volcanic rock. Veins are narrow and contain simple ores in the oxidized zone of soft limonitic material with some vuggy quartz and gold. Beneath the oxide zone is vuggy quartz, sparse pyrite, galena, spalerite, chalcopyrite, and rare specks of gold and tetrahedrite in sheared and altered andesite (Roby 1960; Klepper 1957).

Very limited production was achieved in the 1920s. In 1936 production jumped from 11 tons to 4,170 tons per year. Presumably this was due to the introduction of a dry-land dredge on Wilson Creek. From 1936 to 1951 the entire output from the district, primarily from the Golden Age group, was just over 10,000 tons of ore yielding 6,080 ounces of gold, 9,972 ounces of silver, 69,129 pounds of lead and 1,594 pounds of zinc (Fairchild 1989; Roby 1960; Lyden 1948).


There is little reference to this mining area in the historic literature. Roby (1960) describes the sub-district as embracing a part of Jefferson County within the Elkhorn Mountains in T7N R2W, primarily the area drained by Tizer and Wilson creeks. The district is drained by Tizer and Wilson Creeks, tributaries to Crow Creek. Modern USGS maps show lode mines in the area immediately north and northeast of the Elkhorn district, but access to this area.appears to be from Prickly Pear Gulch to the north and over a divide. Figure 1 shows the Wilson-Tizer Creek district as generally defined by Roby (1960).



The Belle mine is near the mouth of Moose Creek near Ruddville. The property consists of three claims: the Belle, Best and Lost (MS 10575). The mine has produced $16,000 in ore from a 700 ft adit on the Belle claim. The production appears to be post-World War II.


The Blackjack mine was described by Stone (1911) as four shallow shafts that were interesting for the large amount of rusty quartz with radiating black crystals of tourmaline. It was also mentioned by Klepper (1957) but no production was ever recorded (Roby 1960).

Center Reef/Ballard

The Center Reef mine was historically referred to as the Ballard. It is composed of four patented claims: the Loon (MS 7964), Center Reef (MS 7965), Policy (MS 7966), and Black Bear (MS 7967). The mine was developed through shallow surface workings and two crosscut adits to a depth of 230 ft. The mine was active for 13 years between 1906 and 1940. The 975 tons of hand sorted ore reportedly yielded 2,725 ounces of gold, 7,173 ounces of silver, 133 pounds of copper and 9,753 pounds of lead (Roby 1960).

Golden Age

The Golden Age group of 20 unpatented claims has historically been referred to as the Deer Horn and the Callahan. It is located in the central part of Crow Basin. The property was developed through two adits with two connecting levels between the adits. Twenty-five years of production began in 1921 and ended in 1951. The mine reportedly produced 10,833 tons of ore which yielded 6,080 ounces of gold, 7,461 ounces of silver, 9,972 bounds of copper, 69,129 pounds of lead and 1,594 pounds of zinc. The ore was pulled from veins that averaged two to three feet in width. The description of the mineralization of the district (Klepper 1957) is taken from this, its most active mine (Roby 1960).

Modern USGS maps of the area show the Big Tizer, Little Tizer, Pataloma, and Wildcat mines in the area. None of these however are mentioned in historic literature.

Ruddville Historic Townsite

Ruddville Historic Townsite is a frontier mining community dating from 1865-1890. The town was located at placers at the juncture of Moose and Wilson Creeks. Fourteen structures remain from the historic period. Because of the poor road, the townsite is hard to reach and is, as a result, fairly intact. The town was founded by Dr. A. F. Rudd the first claimant of placers along Wilson Creek and the builder of the first cabins there. The ground was leased to the Chinese in the 1870s. The townsite is not mentioned in many of the main texts on the area (Fairchild 1989).


Corry, Andrew V.

1933 "Some Gold Deposits of Broadwater, Beaverhead, Phillips and Fergus Counties.

Memoir No. 10.

Montana Mines and Geology, Butte.

Fairchild, Gary S.

1989 "Cultural Resource Inventory: 88-HE-2-2, Chrysos Placer Claims/ Steve Reilly" report prepared for the Helena District Ranger.

1990 "Cultural Resource Inventory: Chrysos / Gold Bar Placer Claims Steve Reilly, Wilson Creek, Helena Ranger District 89-HE-2-1" report prepared for the Helena District Ranger.

Klepper, M. R., R. Weeks and E. Ruppel

1957 "Geology of the Southern Elkhorn Mountains, Jefferson and Broadwater Counties, Montana", U. S. Geological Survey,

Professional Paper 292.

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


Mines and Mineral Deposits (Except Fuels), Jefferson County

, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Bulletin 16, Montana School of Mines, Butte, Montana.

Stone, Ralph Walter

1911 "Geologic Relations of Ore Deposits in the Elkhorn Mountains, Montana",

U. S. Geologic Survey, Bulletin 470

, pp. 75-98.