The Little Pipestone district is southeast of Butte and west of Whitehall, essentially the Little Pipestone Creek drainage. The placers on the creek have been active intermittently since the latter part of the 19th Century. In the summer of 1900, H. H. Lotz and Thomas Smith reported taking some gold nuggets from their placer diggings on Little Pipestone Creek. The nuggets were reported to value from $1 to $4 each and were of high purity. In the early years of this century, the bench gravels on the north side of the creek; the area now traversed by Highway 10, were worked by hydraulics. In 1909 five operations on the creek recovered 12 ounces of gold. Later, in 1934, one operator managed to recover five ounces of gold (Western Mining World 1900; Lyden 1948).

There were also some quartz lodes in the district as well. In 1878, Alva Noyes worked briefly in a 40 foot shaft on a claim owned by "Big George" Sample, C. X. Larabie and "Little Bill" McNamara. Owing to poor air in the shaft, Noyes found other work after only one day. Sample was not so lucky; the very next day after nearly passing out in the sump, he attempted to climb out. However, near the top he lost his grip and fell to his death (Noyes 1966).

Bedrock is composed of quartz monzonite of the Boulder batholith. Ore is found in placers, lodes, and mineralized zones in brecciated granite. The ore occurs as free gold in the quartz fissures. Some placer gold has been recovered from the gravels of Rader and Little Pipestone Creeks and from the "lake beds " nearby.

From 1902 to 1957 the Jupiter and Silver Bell mines produced $12,085 of ore (Steere 1979).


Sahinen (1935) does not discuss the Little Pipestone as a separate district, rather discusses a broader Pipestone district that includes the tributaries of Pipestone Creek.

Lyden (1948) states that Little Pipestone Creek is a tributary of Big Pipestone Creek.

In her discussion of Whitehall, Wolle (1963) quotes Peter A. Dawson, "The Little Pipestone placers of Dan Standard, Baxter, Tuttle, and some other fellows were four miles west of Big Pipestone. None of the properties have been worked for years."

Roby et al (1960) discussed the district and places it about 10 miles southeast of Butte and 12 miles west of Whitehall. The district is traversed by Highway 10A and the (former) mainline of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway. The district is in the northeast portion of T1N, R6W and northwest of T1N, R5W. The district is drained by Little Pipestone and Rader Creeks which are tributaries of Big Pipestone Creek. Figure 1 shows the district as described by Roby et al. (1960).



The Jupiter mine is located in section 36, T2N, R6W. The patented claim was developed by two adits 38 and 150 feet and by a 60 foot shaft. The mine worked a 3 foot fissure vein that can be traced 300 feet in length. Ores are pyrite and chalcopyrite with minor galena. This may be the mine in which "Big George" Sample was killed (Roby et al 1960; Noyes 1966).

Gilbert (1935) also lists the Slim Cedar mine which had been developed with a 50 foot shaft and a cabin.


Gilbert, Frederick C.

1935 "Directory of Montana Mining Properties",

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Memoir No. 15

. Montana School of Mines, Butte.

Lyden, Charles J.

1948 "The Gold Placers of Montana",

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Memoir 26

. Montana School of Mines, Butte.

Noyes, Alva Josiah


The Story of Ajax; Life in the Big Hole Basin

, Buffalo-Head Press.

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.

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.

Western Mining World (WMW)

1900 Vol. 13, No. 2, July 14, 1900, p. 17.

Wolle, Muriel Sibell


Montana Pay Dirt.

Sage Books, Athens, Ohio