The Homestake mining district includes lode mines on the east side of the East Ridge, which forms the Continental Divide, southeast of Butte. Blacktail Creek and its tributaries on the west side of the divide and south of Butte are also considered part of the district. Placer gold was first discovered in Blacktail Creek and worked in the 1860s and 1870s. Other small creeks on both sides of the East Ridge have yielded some small amounts of gold primarily from 1920 to 1940 (Lyden 1948).

The Homestake district lode claims include the Blackwell, Big Chief, Gold Bug, Nellie, Flag, Leslie and the Sixteen to One (Steere 1979). The Blackwell property, the primary producer, was discovered in 1864 and achieved production that merited the erection of a 10-stamp mill on the property. No production records, howeer, have been located for the mine's early operations.

From 1910 to 1942 the district produced only 1,042 tons of ore; this yielded 781 ounces of gold, 27,823 ounces of silver, 1,209 pounds of copper, 4,245 pounds of lead and no zinc. While the bulk of the silver was produced in the 1910s, the base metal production peaked in 1937 - 1938. Total value of production was reported to be $35,379.

The district is underlain by Boulder Batholith quartz monzonite which is intruded by dikes of aplite, pegmatite and some diabase. Small quartz veins are associated with the aplite in the granite. The gold and silver veins are often short and irregular, but frequently rich. Molybdenite has also been observed in the sheeting of the aplite or in narrow quartz veins. Some molybdenum was shipped in 1906 and 1907 (Sahinen 1935; Roby et al. 1960).


When Sahinen (1935) described the Homestake district, he located it at the Homestake station on the Northern Pacific Railroad about 10 miles southeast of Butte. However, the district had not yet proved to be a producer of any significant amounts of gold.

Lyden (1948) describes the Homestake district as a collection of small creeks nine miles southeast of Butte.

Roby et al (1960) has perhaps the best definition of the district. "The Homestake district lies along the crest of the Continental Divide, the boundary of Jefferson and Silver Bow Counties, approximately nine miles southeast of Butte. The district is in T2N, R6 & 7W in the vicinity of Homestake, a station on the Northern Pacific Railway.

The AMRB (1994) show the district as wholly on the east side of the Continental Divide and these boundaries encompass all of the major lode claims. However, the historic literature generally includes Blacktail Creek and its tributaries in the district. Figure 1 shows the district as defined by the AMRB (1994), for inventory purposes, and as described by Roby et al. (1960).


Big Chief

The Big Chief is located in sections 28 & 29 T3N, R6W. The property consists of three patented and two unpatented claims. Patented claims include the Big Chief (MS# 9595), Elroy (MS#9595), and Extension (MS#9595). The mine worked three shafts and tunnels. These tapped a quartz vein in granite which carried gold and silver. No production has been recorded (Roby et al 1960).

Blackwell (Kendall, Homestake)

The Blackwell is located in section 36 T3N, R7W and section 1 T2N, R7W about 2.5 miles from Homestake. The mine was discovered in 1864 and was worked until 1900. A 10-stamp mill was erected on the property to reduce the ore. In 1899 the mine was leased by the Lucey Mining Company of Chicago. The company both milled the ore on the property and shipped three carloads a month. Shipping ore ran about $106 per ton in gold. The Homestake lead was worked through several adits and five shafts. The adits were estimated to be 300 feet long and the shafts ranged from 150 to 500 feet in depth (

Western Mining World

1899; Roby et al 1960).

Gold Bug

The Gold Bug mine is located in section 6, T2N, R6W. The mine has recorded production in 1911, 1912, and 1933. One ton of ore shipped in 1911 yielded 55 ounces of gold and 298 ounces of silver. Total production of 30 tons of ore produced 98 ounces of gold, 2,639 ounces of silver and 22 pounds of copper (Roby et al 1960).


The Hackensack mine reported gold, silver and copper production in 1911, 1913, 1914, 1915 and again in 1923 (WPA 1941).


The Montana mine consists of four patented and five unpatented claims near Camp Caroline 3.5 miles east of Homestake. Around 1900 the mine and an associated mill produced $20,000 from gold and silver ore. The mine was next active in 1914, 1919, 1922 and 1925. In 1935 three men were employed working five shafts from 30 to 390 feet deep, a 200 foot adit and 70 feet of drifts. Seven cabins were listed as surface developments (Gilbert 1935; WPA 1941).

Mountain Chief

The Mountain Chief is located in section 36, T3N, R7W and section 1 T2N, R7W. The mine worked the Homestake Lead out of a 200 foot long adit and a 200 foot deep shaft. In 1899 the Lucey Mining Company of Chicago leased the mine and had 20 men working the dump and processing the ore in a Tremain mill. In its four years of production between 1910 and 1941 the mine produced 61 tons of ore yielding 31 ounces of gold and 627 ounces of silver (

Western Mining World

1899; Roby et al 1960).


The Nellie property is located in section 1, T3N, R7W three miles northwest of Homestake in Lyon Gulch Creek. The mine is composed of one patented claim, the Nellie (MS#6082) and six unpatented claims. The mine was developed through two 50 foot shafts and 6 adits. The adits were 150, 100, 1,000, 700, 300 and 700 feet respectively. The underground workings also included 2,000 feet of drifts, 400 feet of cross cuts and 300 feet of raises. In 1935 four men were employed extracting $15,000 in gold and silver ore from veins in granite and associated with aplite intrusions. At the time, surface development included a gasoline compressor and three cabins. In eight years of production between 1911 and 1940, the mine reported 125 tons of ore. This yielded 50 ounces of gold, 8,053 ounces of silver and 178 pounds of lead (Gilbert 1935; Roby et al 1960).


Abandoned Mine Reclamation Bureau (AMRB)

1994 Mining districts of Montana. Maps 1:100,000 and Map #94-NRIS-129. Compied and edited by Joel Chavez. Prepared by Montana State Library Natural Resource Information System (NRIS) for Montana Department of State Lands. Helena

Anderson, Paul

1985 "Cultural Resource Inventory and Evaluation of Selected Mine Sites in the Butte Mining District, Butte, Montana", prepared for the Montana Department of State Lands by GCM Services.

Beck, Barb S.

1986 "Cultural Resource Inventory of the Halfway Creek Irrigation Diversion", Deerlodge National Forest, Jefferson Ranger District.

Billingsley, Paul, and Grimes, J. A.

1918 "Ore Deposits of the Boulder Batholith of Montana",

Amer. Inst. Min. Engr. Trans.

, Vol. 58, pp. 284-361.

GCM Services Inc.

1983 "Cultural Resource Inventory of Proposed East-West Connector Road Between Montana Street and Texas Avenue Butte, Montana", prepared for Thomas, Dean and Hoskins Inc. by GCM Services.

1986a "Cultural Resource Inventory and Assessment: Continental Drive Between Howard and Atlantic Streets, Butte", prepared for Sorenson and Company by GCM Services.

1986b "Cultural Resource Inventory and Assessment of Selected Abandoned Coal Mine Sites Throughout Montana and Selected Hardrock Mine Sites in Butte", prepared for the Montana Department of State Lands by GCM Services.

1987a "Cultural Resource Inventory and Assessment of Six Butte Mines: The Venus, Rialto, Benham, Evaline, Goldsmith and Green Mountain", prepared for the Montana Department of State Lands by GCM Services.

GCM Services Inc.

1987b "Cultural Resource Inventory and Assessment of Eight Selected Hardrock Mine Sites in Butte, Montana", prepared for the Montana Department of State Land by GCM Services.

1990 "Cultural Resource Inventory and Assessment: M 1805 (2) Holmes Avenue - Rowe Road to Harrison Avenue", prepared for Montana Department of Highways by GCM Services.

Gilbert, Frederick C.

1935 "Directory of Montana Mining Properties",

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Memoir No. 15

. Montana School of Mines, Butte.

Keystone Environmental Resources, Inc.

1990 "On-Site Historical and Archaeological Investigation Montana Pole and Treating Site Butte, Montana", prepared for Arco Coal Company by Keystone Environmental Resources, Inc., Monroeville, Pennsylvania.

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.

Rosenzweig, Mark

1990 "Cultural Resource Assessment of Mining Related Properties Affected by the Butte Priority Soils Removal Action", prepared for the United States Environmental Protection Agency by Ecology and Environment, Inc., Buffalo, New York.

Sahinen, Uuno M.

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

Steere, Peter L.

1979 "Cultural Resource Inventory and Evaluation, Homestake Pass Safety Federal Aid Project I-90-5(38)-233", Mineral Research Center, Butte.

1979 "Cultural Resources Inventory and Evaluation Butte - North Federal Aid Project I-IG-15-2(37)131" Cultural Resources Division Mineral Research Center Montana Tech Alumni Foundation.

1980 "Cultural Resources Inventory and Evaluation Hillcrest Project Anaconda Copper Mining Company", Cultural Resources Division Mineral Research Center Montana Tech Alumni Foundation.

1984 "Cultural Resource Inventory and Evaluation Project Harrison Avenue - Butte F 29-4(1)84", prepared for the Montana Highway Department by Cultural Resources Division Mineral Research Center Montana Tech Alumni Foundation.

Western Mining World

1899 "Latest Person and Mining Notes", Vol 10, No. 226, January 14, 1899.

Work Projects Administration (WPA) Mineral Resources Survey


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.