HISTORIC CONTEXT

aka Callahan, Callahan Creek Grouse Mountain

The Troy district lies south and west of Troy in the area bounded by Callahan Creek on the north and Keeler Creek on the south. It includes the Bull River drainage, a major north flowing river in the Cabinet Mountain range. A small area of placer activity clusters to the east of Troy at Kootenai Falls.

Isolated prospectors worked along Callahan Creek as early as 1884, with more men joining the search later in the decade as they fanned out from strikes on Libby Creek and in the Coeur d'Alene region in Idaho. Among these later miners were Thomas Baggs, William Doyle, Robert Atkins, and James Freeman, prospectors who worked their way over the mountains to Callahan Creek from Hope, Idaho in 1888 (Calvi 1992; Wood c. 1910).

Placer miners did not have much luck in the Troy district. The largest placer operations centered around Kootenai Falls where numerous claims were staked from 1892-1896, on both sides of the river, both above and below the falls. Men dug ditches to divert water to their claims, and a group even constructed a large canal 24 - 45 feet in width and 2 - 5 feet in depth. The brief flurry of activity ended around 1900, with a few continuing to work claims for several more years. Arthur V. Corry, a mining expert, examined the claims in 1911 and then issued a report eight years later. In his estimation, the area was "absolutely valueless as placer mining ground." Indeed, the values were so low that the costs of mining would amount to eight times the profit. Despite this dismal assessment, some miners continued to work the area as late as 1919, using dry shaking methods (Schweigert 1981; Corry 1919; Renk 1994).

Callahan Creek gravels attracted a few miners over the years. Some recovered small amounts of gold through sluicing in 1924, 1934, and 1942. The Condor Mining and Leasing Co. worked eight claims along the creek about 1939, using a crew of two to four men with a hydraulic and suction dredge to work 20 cubic yards of gravel a day. The operations had netted $681 at that time (Lyden 1948; WPA 1940).

Prospectors staked a number of lode claims in the Troy district in the 1890s. The first two claims of what became the Big Eight mine were located along Callahan Creek in 1889 and then relocated the following year; development work began in 1891. Nearby, Frank and James Stonechest, Robert Hulse, and Maurice Downey located the Bangle claim on 13 June 1893, the same day that Frank and James Stonechest, Robert Hulse, and Bart Downey filed on the adjacent Banner claim. These two claims, called the B and B, later became known as the Snowstorm, the most important claim in the district. Development work began on the B and B in 1895. The Iron Mask and Grouse Mountain claims were located in 1892, while the Montana Morning claims near the Snowstorm were located prior to 1906 and were later taken over by the larger mine (Calvi 1992; Johns 1970; Calvi 1987b).

While some mines, such as the Montana Morning, began producing at an early date, large scale development did not come to the Troy district until after 1915 when Leo Greenough, of the Greenough Investment Co., purchased the Snowstorm mine. The company started construction on a concentrator the following year, built a dam, flume, and powerhouse on Lake Creek, and lay 6.5 miles of railroad tracks up Callahan Creek. At the end of the year, more than 600 men were on the payroll. The concentrator started operations in April 1917 and ran until it burned in May 1927; during that time, the Snowstorm produced over $4 million in ore (Calvi 1992; Gibson 1948).

While the Snowstorm mine was the leading producer of the Troy district, other smaller mines operated during the 1920s and 1930s as well. Among these were the Giant Sunrise, Grouse Mountain, Liberty Metals, Silver King, Bimetallic, and Silver Grouse. Following the destruction of the Snowstorm concentrator, local mines had to ship ore outside the district for milling until operators of the Giant Sunrise and Liberty Metals constructed mills in the mid-1930s (Johns 1970; Gibson 1948).

Sedimentary rocks of the Belt series, including shales, argillites, sandstones, and quartzites, underlie the Troy district. Igneous sills have intruded in some areas and these, along with the sedimentary formations, have been folded and faulted. Stocks and dikes of a later age have also intruded into the formation (Gibson 1931).

Much of the ore in the Troy district occurs in dark colored sills and dikes found near shear zones. Ore-bearing solutions moved along the channels created by the faulting and shearing of the rocks, forming mineral deposits in the adjoining sedimentary rocks or in the igneous dikes and sills (Gibson 1931).

BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT

According to Sahinen (1935), the only one to describe the district boundaries, "Grouse Mountain is a spur of the Cabinet Range between the headwaters of Calahan [sic] Creek and Lake Creek, southwest of Troy." The mines of the district are spread across this area that is bounded by Callahan Creek on the north and Keeler Creek on the south. In addition, there was a small placer district concentrated in the area around Kootenai Falls east of Troy (Figure 1).

HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES

Big Eight

The Big Eight mine includes four patented and two unpatented claims on both sides of Callahan Creek just north of the Snowstorm mine in section 19, T31N, R34W. Both mines are either on the same fissure vein or on two parallel but slightly separated fissure veins (Johns 1970; Calvi 1987b).

Confusion surrounds the initial claims on the Big Eight mine. Seven partners located the Welcome Guest and Northern Belle claims on Callahan Creek but mistakenly recorded them in Idaho in November 1889. Less than a year later, William Houston recorded the same locations in Montana as the Heron and Cabinet claims. Evidently the eight men formed a partnership which changed in membership and numbers over the next few years, emerging again in 1897 with a total of eight partners which led to the name of the mine (Calvi 1987b).

Development work began in 1891 when a crew of 17 men worked in the summer and fall. The Big Eight Mining Co. took over operations in 1897, followed by the Silver Torrent Mining Co. by 1906. That year crews sank a 75-foot winze, ran a 450 foot crosscut tunnel, completed 350 feet of drifting, and worked on a new tunnel to tap the vein at 600 feet in depth also. Also that year, the company shipped four carloads of ore each month to Germany via Seattle. Work continued on the mine at least through 1912 (Calvi 1987b; Walsh and Orem 1906, 1910, 1912).

A big push started in 1926 when operators constructed a short rail spur to connect the mine with the Snowstorm mine railroad. This spur, while just one-quarter of a mile long, involved building a 1,000 foot trestle up a steep canyon. Once the rail line was completed, the mine began shipping ore to the Snowstorm concentrator in Troy. The mine was sending 60 tons of ore a day in January 1927 and expected to increase it soon to 100 tons. The concentrator burned in May 1927, however, causing mine operators to ship the ore elsewhere after the fire (Calvi 1987b).

The mine reported production in 1912-1913 and 1925-1928, with the total amounting to 6,000 tons of zinc-lead ore during this period. Although the mine was idle by 1931, the Chance Mining Co. reactivated it in 1944, shipping nearly 300 tons of ore. The last ore extraction occurred in the 1960s (Johns 1970; WPA 1941; Gibson 1948; Calvi 1987b).

The mine workings include three adits on the north side of Callahan Creek and one on the south side, 450 feet of crosscuts, and two winzes (Johns 1970).

Bimetallic

The Bimetallic group comprises 14 unpatented claims in the Keeler Creek drainage south of Lime Butte. The mine includes five adits, ranging in length from 100 to 800 feet, and several crosscuts. An assay in 1929 gave values of $125.45 per ton, with $.80 in gold; $9.08 in silver; and $115.57 in lead. There are no production records for the mine (Johns 1970; Gibson 1948; Troy Mining Chamber c. 1929).

Giant Sunrise (Montana Sunrise)

Located in section 10, T30N, R34W, the Giant Sunrise was formed with the merger of Consolidated Silver Lead, Silver Grouse, and Montana Sunrise Mining companies. At one time, the mine encompassed the Silver Tip claim, 31 unpatented claims, and a mill site; Johns (1970), however, lists only 19 unpatented claims and the mill site (WPA 1940).

Following the discovery of a lead-zinc ore body in 1928, the mine was active during the 1930s. Operators built a 100-ton mill in 1934 and employed a crew of about 15 men during 1935-1936. The mill continued operations through 1939 and possibly longer. The mine contained five adits ranging from 255 feet to 6,000 feet in length, and the mine buildings included the mill, a blacksmith shop, and other structures (Johns 1970; Gibson 1948; WPA 1940).

In July 1935, an average run of ore contained 6 percent lead, 8.5 percent zinc, and 1.2 ounces of silver per ton. A shipment of lead concentrates, on the other hand, yielded 72.2 percent lead and 16 ounces of silver per ton, while a shipment of zinc concentrates yielded 50.4 percent zinc, 4.3 percent lead, and 1.7 ounces of silver per ton. There are no production records for the mine (Gibson 1948).

Grouse Mountain

Although the Grouse Mountain mine was located in 1892, it was not developed until the late 1920's. At that time two shifts of miners were employed. Using hand drills, the workings were extended 3-4 feet a day. The company planned to add compressors and air drills if the work became too difficult. The property encompassed 27 unpatented claims north of the North Fork of Keeler Creek, mostly in section 10, T30N, R34W. Mine workings consist of four crosscut adits and 3,000 feet of drifting. Buildings include several cabins, a blacksmith shop, and an ore bin. The mine was in operation in 1958 (Johns 1970; Gibson 1948; Troy Mining Chamber c. 1929).

Iron Mask

The Iron Mask mine includes two patented claims and two patented fractions in sections. 11 and 14, T30N, R34W, north of Keeler Creek and west of Lime Butte. The deposit was discovered in 1892 and the claim was worked sporadically, yielding 200 tons of ore by 1931. Additional work took place in 1943 when the Montana Mining and Milling Co. leased the Iron Mask and Montana Morning claims. During a five month run, the operators produced nine tons of lead concentrates and 23 tons of zinc concentrates from the Giant Sunrise mill. Mine workings consist of two short adits (Johns 1970; Gibson 1948).

Liberty Metals

The Liberty Metals claims are 6 miles south of Troy on Iron Creek, in section 35, T31N, R34W. The number of claims involved is unclear: WPA (1940) credits the property with 21 unpatented and three patented claims, Gibson (1948) notes only eight patented claims, and Johns (1970) lists eight patented and nine unpatented claims.

Development work began as early as 1923 and then intensified after 1926. By the end of the decade, mine structures included bunk houses, a mess hall, office, living quarters, and a shower building. In addition, a sawmill was cutting timbers for the construction of a mill. Up to 1934, the mine had made only one shipment of ore, which yielded $142 per ton with values mostly in lead and silver (Johns 1970; Gibson 1948; WPA 1940; Troy Mining Chamber c. 1929).

Two events in 1934 were designed to spur the development of the mine. Liberty Metals absorbed the mine's former owner, Silver Strike Mining Co. In addition, crews installed machinery for the 100-ton flotation mill. Unfortunately, neither move paid off. The mine was inactive in 1936 and reported only assessment work by the end of the decade (Johns 1970; WPA 1940).

Montana Morning

The claims of the Montana Morning property are located near the head of Iron Creek in section 28, T31N, R34W. The July mine, one of the claims, reported development work consisting of a 100 foot shaft and some drifting in 1906. The owners were negotiating a sale at that time and anticipated further work on the mine. The Montana Morning Mining and Milling Co. formed around 1906, combining the July mine with other lead-silver claims. Development work continued under the new management, and the company employed 25 men in 1910. Crews were building a power plant and owners planned construction of a mill soon. Two years later, the underground workings included two tunnels 350 and 700 feet long (Gibson 1948; Johns 1970; Walsh and Orem 1906, 1910, 1912; Calvi 1992).

The Snowstorm mine purchased the Montana Morning property in 1923, thus gaining claims on the southeast end of the Snowstorm dike. At some point, operators constructed a road joining the mine with the Snowstorm railroad along Callahan Creek and built an ore bin at the junction. Ore from the Montana Morning was then hauled to the concentrator in Troy. This probably ended soon after a fire destroyed the concentrator in May 1927. There are no production totals for the mine (Johns 1970; Gibson 1948).

Silver Grouse

The Silver Grouse encompasses nine unpatented claims in section 11, T30N, R34W. The Silver Grouse Mining Co. incorporated in 1929 to work the claims. The small camp included cabins for the crew and a blacksmith shop, while the underground workings consisted of two shallow shafts and a 311 foot adit. Selected samples of high grade galena assayed 4 to 71 ounces of silver per ton. There are no production records for the mine (Johns 1970; Gibson 1948; Troy Mining Chamber c. 1929).

Silver King

The Silver King property includes three unpatented claims on the North Fork of Keeler Creek. Silver King Mining Co. organized in June 1923 to work the claims, and by the end of the decade the mine had shipped 73 tons of ore to the smelter in Helena, netting $4,591.26 for the company. The ore averaged 75 percent lead and 14 ounces of silver to the ton. Gibson (1948) reported that the mine shipped six carloads of ore, with the average smelter returns showing 60.9 percent lead; 1.0 percent zinc; 0.19 ounces of gold; and 12.3 ounces of silver per ton. There are no production records for the mine. Underground workings consist of seven short adits totaling 850 feet (Troy Mining Chamber c. 1929; Gibson 1948; Johns 1970).

Snowstorm

The Snowstorm mine (24LN1326) is located on the south side of Callahan Creek, in sections 19, 20, and 29, T31N, R34W. The mine started as two patented claims and eventually grew to encompass as many as 60 claims after 1931 (Johns 1970).

Frank and James Stonechest, Robert Hulse, and Maurice Downey located and recorded the Bangle claim on 13 June 1893, the same day that Frank and James Stonechest, Robert Hulse, and Bart Downey recorded the adjoining Banner claim. When development work began in 1895, the two claims were worked as one mine, known as the Banner and Bangle, or just the B and B (Calvi 1987a).

E. J. Merrin, from the nearby town of Leonia, Idaho, bonded the B and B for $10,000 in the spring of 1895, and hired the Downey brothers to drive a tunnel. Work proceeded at a good pace, and by the end of the summer Merrin hired packers to haul 100 tons of ore to Troy for shipment to the Everett smelter. The Banner and Bangle Mining Co. incorporated in 1896 to operate the mine, and development proceeded slowly for many years. A small crew of ten continued with development around 1911 (Calvi 1987a; Walsh and Orem 1912).

Sometime between 1905-1908, T. L. Greenough of Missoula purchased a large share of stock in the Banner and Bangle. Following his death in 1911, the Greenough Investment Co. took over his shares and eventually bought the mine in 1915 for $150,000. The new owners formed the Snow Storm Consolidated Mines in 1916 and renamed the mine the Snowstorm (Calvi 1987a; Western News 1920).

Development proceeded rapidly in 1916, not only within the mine but outside as well. Crews built a dam, flume, and power house on Lake Creek to supply electricity to the mine and concentrator, selling excess power to help light Troy. Work also included building 6.5 miles of narrow gauge railroad up Callahan Creek and construction of camps for the large crews as well as offices and residences in town. The Snowstorm also built a concentrator in Troy, which began operations in April 1917. It included ore bins with a capacity for 1000 tons of ore, a gyratory crusher, trommel screens for sorting, and four Wilfley tables (Calvi 1987a, 1992).

The Snowstorm began producing steadily after the concentrator was completed, soon becoming the leading producer for Lincoln County. The mine employed 250-300 men during the 1920s. Johns (1970) reported that the mine produced 202,000 tons of ore worth $1,516,000 during 1918-1926, while Gibson (1948) estimated the total production as at least $4 million in lead, zinc, gold, and silver. The concentrator burned in May 1927 resulting in very little production after that time.

Troy Mines Co., headed by William A. Shoup of Missoula, purchased the Snowstorm, Montana Morning, and other holdings of the Greenough Investment Co. at Troy in 1929. Two years later, Gibson (1948) estimated that the ore reserves amounted to 207,000 tons. Despite the apparent potential of the mine, it remained inactive until the mid-1960s (Troy Mining Chamber c. 1929; WPA 1940; Johns 1970).

The extensive mine workings contain two shafts 125 and 600 feet deep, several adits totaling 10,000 feet, 500 feet of drifting, 3,500 feet of crosscuts, and 1,100 feet of raises (Johns 1970).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abandoned Mine Reclamation Bureau (AMRB)

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

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Calvi, Jim

1987a "Cultural Site Records, 24LN1326, Banner & Bangle Mine". 28 June.

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Corry, Arthur V.

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MacDonald, Donald Francis, see also Calkins, 209

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Nason, Frank Lewis

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Troy Mining Chamber

c. 1929 "The Troy Montana Mining District: Silver, Lead, Zinc", n.p. Ms. on file, Troy Ranger Station, Three Rivers Ranger District, Kootenai National Forest, Montana.

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Western News (compiler)

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Wood, Mrs. D. T.

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