HISTORIC CONTEXT

aka Fool Hen

aka Poorman

The Gould district is on the Continental Divide nearly thirty miles northwest of Helena. The principal mine, the Jay Gould, was discovered in 1884. It was worked intermittently until the middle 1930s. Its high-grade surface ores were easily milled in a ten-stamp mill until 1890 when the mine was closed down. Considerable milling was done when it reopened between 1903 and 1907, and again from 1910 to 1914, when heavy flows of underground water suspended the work. A drainage tunnel on the Fool Hen Creek was started, but lack of capital stopped work on the project. In 1922, State Senator Owen Byrens acquired the property and resumed work on the Fool Hen tunnel until it reached one mile and 600 feet into the mountain. The tunnel partially drained the old workings and permitted the resumption of mining. After Byrnes' death the property changed hands and became the Standard Silver Lead Company. High-grade ore from the mine ran 95% gold and the rest silver. Estimated total production up to 1915 was mostly from gold found in a vein of limestone, and totaled $2,500,000. Totals for this mine after 1922 along with the returns from the Hubbard, Prize and other mines push the total to around $3,000,000. In 1933 the Nakoma, formerly the Golconda, was under intensive development (Pardee and Schrader 1933; Sahinen 1935; Wolle 1963).

The Stemple sub-district at the head of Virginia Creek, a few miles north of the Gould area, was discovered by John Stemple in 1878. The Stemple sub-district includes the major lode mines at the head of the creek which have yielded $420,000, chiefly in gold. The biggest producer in this area was the Homestake near the head of Virginia Creek. This mine along with the Bachelor and several other claims are about half a mile northwest of the Jay Gould and crop out at the same altitude (Sahinen 1935; Wolle 1963).

The placers of Virginia Creek were mined from the community of Stemple to the mouth of the creek, a distance of eight miles, and yielded at least $600,000 in gold. From Stemple to the head of the valley the creek has not been mined and the gravels are said not to contain workable gravel. Low terraces along Canyon Creek have been mined for a distance of four or five miles below Virginia Creek (Pardee and Schrader 1933).

The area is underlain by Proterozoic sedimentary rocks of the Belt group which have been intruded by quartz diorite in the Stemple and Gould districts. Near the intrusives, the argillites have undergone hornfelsic alteration. Alteration is less intense in the Stemple and Poorman districts. The Beltian rocks are moderately tilted (20 degrees to 30 degrees).

The ore deposits are veins that have filled open fissures, and in places have also replaced the wall rock. The veins are commonly 3 or 4 feet wide and persistent along strike and dip. Two groups of veins, north-south and east-west, have been recognized. The veins have been developed to a depth of at least 700 feet. While the veins are generally developed for their gold values, several prospects have yielded only malachite.

BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT

Sahinen (1935) quotes Schrader and Pardee (1933) placing the district along the Continental Divide 28 miles northwest of Helena.

McClernan (1983) defined the district to be across the Continental Divide midway between Lincoln and Helena. Included in this definition were the rich placers of McClellan Gulch and the Columbia mine in Seven-Up-Pete Gulch, which are generally considered to be part of the Lincoln district.

Figure 1 shows the district as defined by the AMRB (1994) with a smaller area as described by Sahinen (1935) and Pardee and Schrader (1933) along the Continental Divide which includes the primary mines. The Stemple sub-district at the head of Virginia Creek is also defined.

HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES

Bachelor

The Bachelor mine consisted of 15 claims near the head of Virginia Creek. In 1890, the Bachelor mine was reported to have a 10-stamp mill in place. The mine reported production in 1916, 1917, 1923, 1934 and 1935. The latter production occurred under the operation of the Bachelor Gold Mining Company which had a 20 ton ball mill, amalgamation and flotation plant at the mine. The mine was discussed in the mining literature in 1935 (Swallow 1891; WPA 1941).

Homestake

The Homestake mine is located in the northwest quarter of section 15, T13N, R7W, about half a mile northeast of the Jay Gould in the Stemple sub-district. The mine was in production as early as 1882 when it reported $4,000 in gold. In 1884 the mine produced $40,000 in gold ore; in 1885 it produced $81,000; and, in 1886 it produced $73,000. The mine closed in 1888. The mine was developed by adit levels that were not accessible when examined in 1927. The upper adit was said to be between 500 and 600 feet long; following an ore shoot for 300 feet. The shoot ranged from 10 inches to a foot in width and assayed as high as $100 to the ton in gold. An adit 150 feet lower followed the same vein, but found a lower grade of ore. The mine had a combined workings of over 2,000 feet. The mine was reopened in 1933.

Hubbard

The Hubbard mine is located in the northeast quarter of section 23, T13N, R7W on the south side of Gould Creek about a mile below the Jay Gould. By 1890 the mine had a 10-stamp mill in place and running. The mine was extensively developed by Owen Byrnes prior to 1905. The Mill Tunnel was driven westward and struck the vein at 950 feet. A second adit was driven at a level 400 feet higher which ran south along the vein for about 1,000 feet. With additional drifts at high levels, the mine had a vertical range of about 900 feet to the Mill Tunnel. The aggregate length of the workings was at least 7,000 feet. Assays from the vein, which ranged from 18 inches to three feet in thickness, ranged from $7 to $12 per ton in gold. In the 1920s, the Hubbard mill processed the ore from the Jay Gould mine (Swallow 1891; Pardee and Schrader 1933).

From 1911 to 1942 the Hubbard mine produced 6,105 tons of ore which returned 2,198.63 ounces of gold; 11,284 ounces of silver; 60 pounds of copper; and 1,433 pounds of lead (McClernan 1983).

Jay Gould

The Jay Gould is located in the southwest quarter of section 14, T13N, R7W, on the ridge north of Gould Creek about a mile east of the Continental Divide. The mine, with its high grade surface ore, was discovered in 1884. A 10-stamp mill was built and the mine worked until 1890. The mine was worked by 35 miners and 2 top men employed by the Freemon MiningCompany in 1895, but no production was recorded. The underground development at the time was listed as a tunnel 2,200 feet long and another 1,500 feet long. The mine was closed down in 1890. When it reopened, considerable milling was done between 1903 and 1907.

In 1906, the mine was operated by the Gould Mines Co. and worked by 100 men. A two-compartment shaft was sunk from the tunnel level to the 200 foot level. Level development was listed at 2,300 feet with 150 feet new for the year. The main tunnel intersected the vein at 1,000 feet. The mine was equipped with a 8 x 10 Ledgerwood hoist, Rand Imperial compressor, 20 and a stamp 125-ton mill and cyanide plant that was located 100 feet from the main portal (Walsh and Orem 1906).

The mine was next worked from 1910 to 1914. In 1912 the mine was described as being operated by the Gould Consolidated Mines Co. Only 40 men were listed as employed in the mine. In 1914, heavy flows of underground water suspended the work. The mine was worked again after 1922, except for 1927 when flooding again temporarily suspended operations. The mine's ore was treated at the Hubbard mine a mile downstream (Shoemaker and Miles 1896; Walsh and Orem 1912; Pardee and Schrader 1933).

The vein outcrops at the mine in a wide, shallow depression that is drained by Fool Hen Creek. Although several prospect excavations dot the property, the main development was a decline crosscut adit at 6,300 feet elevation. The adit strikes the vein at 1,000 feet at a depth of 350 feet below the crosscut. At this level, the vein was drifted for 2,000 feet west and 800 feet east. Earlier workings higher on the mountain included two shafts, several drifts, raises and stopes. Below the adit level, a shaft connects to levels with drifts down to 350 feet. Total length of underground workings exceeded 12,000 feet. In the eastern part of the mine a stope attained a length of 800 feet and a pitch length of 300 feet. Stopes above the 500 foot level have an aggregate area of more than 500,000 square feet. One of the old shafts reached a depth of over 700 feet.

A drainage tunnel on the Fool Hen Creek was started, but lack of capital stopped work on the project. The tunnel was designed to attain the vein 1,000 feet below the outcrop or 300 feet below the lowest outcrop. It was projected to be 4,700 feet long when completed. In 1922, State Senator Owen Byrens acquired the property and resumed work on the Fool Hen tunnel until it reached one mile and 600 feet into the mountain. Although the tunnel was not directly connected to the mines, drainage along fissures partially drained the old workings and permitted the resumption of mining. In 1927, a higher than normal flow of water partially flooded the lower workings and temporarily halted production. After Byrnes' death the property changed hands and became the Standard Silver Lead Company. High-grade ore from the mine ran 95% gold and the rest silver. Estimated total production up to 1915 was mostly from gold found in a vein of limestone, and totaled $2,500,000. From 1904 to 1948 the mine produced 361,539 short tons of ore which returned 101,101.52 ounces of gold and 450,487 ounces of silver (Sahinen 1935; Wolle 1963; McClernan 1983).

Klondike

The mine reported production nearly every year between 1908 and 1931 (WPA 1941).

Nakoma

The Nakoma, formerly the Golconda, was located in the southwest quarter of section 14, T13N, R7W, about half a mile west of the Jay Gould. The mine was developed by an adit driven northward at least 2,000 feet. At 1,750 feet from the portal, drifts were run 1,000 feet west and 150 feet east. Ore was worked in a mill near the portal. Little information is available on the production of the mine (Pardee and Schrader 1933).

Prize

The Prize mine is located in the center of section 27, T13N, R7W, two miles south of the Jay Gould, on the west side of Granite Peak, at the head of Poorman Creek, a tributary of the Blackfoot River. It was developed and operated by Owen Byrnes and the ore treated in a mill in the gulch below. The mine was developed by a 500 feet deep shaft with 800 feet of drifts along the vein. A considerable quantity of gold ore was said to have been taken from the mine (Pardee and Schrader 1933).

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