HISTORIC CONTEXT

Norwegian Creek is a northeast-flowing tributary of Willow Creek, joining it about four miles east of the town of Harrison at the base of the east slope of the Tobacco Root Mountains. The placer mines of Norwegian Gulch were discovered early in 1864, and some of the quartz mines of the region were located in that year. One of the first lode mines in the Norris area was the Purdy, in Norwegian Gulch. By 1874 the district was estimated to have produced $150,000 in gold. Initially the lode ore was worked in arrastras; the first stamp mill not being constructed until 1875. This small 5-stamp mill was salvaged from Sterling and erected at the Rising Sun Mine (Leeson 1885; Swallow 1890; Blake 1896; Winchell 1914; Lyden 1948).

The Norwegian Gulch mines, below Pony, are old and well-known contributors to the wealth of the county. The Gold Lode is a quartz mine, which was worked by two arrastras. The Norwegian placer mines are supplied with water from South Willow Creek, by a ditch five miles long, and with a carrying capacity of 1,000 inches. The original ditch was made in 1865, and carried about 300 inches. In 1875 it was enlarged, at a great expense, to its present capacity by a Bozeman company, who owned a large amount of mining ground in and adjacent to the gulch. Work is carried on by means of hydraulic hose and a bed rock flume. A few farms lie along the creek, and a saw mill was built in 1885, at the head of the valley (Leeson 1885)

The northern part of the district is occupied by gneisses and schists of the Pony series, and the southern part by the quartz monzonite of the Tobacco Root batholith, the contact between the two rock types striking a little north of west. Ore deposits consist of placers and gold-bearing veins. Gold ore occurs in narrow quartz veins cutting quartz monzonite near its contact with metamorphic rocks. The deposits have been superficially enriched and are chiefly mined from shoots formed at vein intersections. The gold, with a little silver, occurs in quartz with chalcopyrite, malachite, and chrysocolla (Tansley, Schafer and Hart 1933; Sahinen 1935; Winchell 1914).

The majority of mining activity occurred between 1864 and 1874. Little is known of the amount of gold recovered from 1874-1925. From 1925-27 the Parish Mining Company operated sluice boxes along the creek and recovered as much as $2,500 annually. In 1930 a power shovel that fed a string of sluice boxes was put into operation, and production increased. The Story Gold Dredging Company installed a dredge on the creek in 1933 and operated it for 9 months before dismantling it. The company recovered 2,552 fine ounces of gold. Another dredge was built on the creek in 1936, but the recoveries were small. Homer Wilson operated a 5-cubic foot dredge at the Norwegian placer from March 27 to December 22, 1939, and treated 239,805 cubic yards of gravel; the output of gold increased nearly 500 ounces. Dredging operations were suspended in 1942 and not resumed (Sahinen, 1935; Lyden, 1948; Wolle 1963).

BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT

Winchell (1914) states that the Norwegian district is about seven miles west of Norris and includes the area in which Norwegian Creek has its sources (Figure 1).

Sahinen (1935) places the district halfway between Pony and Norris, the latter being the terminus of the Norris branch of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Tansley, Schafer and Hart (1933) place the district on Norwegian Creek a few miles southeast of Pony.

Wolle (1963) locates the district seven miles northwest of Norris.

HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES

Although lode mines such as the Purdy, Black Chief and the Rising Sun were mentioned in the mining literature, they did not achieve any notable production.

Gold Hill

The Gold Hill mine was active from 1911 to 1917 excluding 1913 and again in 1923. The mine produced gold, silver, copper and lead. In 1901 Steven Klarec was killed by an explosion in the mine (Byrne 1902; WPA 1941).

Norwegian Mine

The Norwegian mine is located in the foothills west of Montana Highway 1, seven miles northeast of Norris. In its early years of production the mine was reputed to have produced $50,000 from high grade shipping ore. The Norwegian mine was mentioned in the mining literature in 1902, 1903 and 1934. In 1935 there was a 100-foot shaft plus 300 feet of drifts and crosscuts. The plant consisted of a gasoline hoist, and 5 men were employed there. According to the owner, the mine had produced about $25,000, with the last shipments averaging over $100 per ton. In 1937 the mine was operated by J. T. Dravenstott of Norris. In addition to drifts from the bottom of the shaft, several ore shoots were also drifted from the surface (Gilbert 1935; Lorain 1937; WPA 1941).

Norwegian Placer

The Norwegian Placer was intermittently active from 1925 to 1934. It was operated by the Parish Mining Company. The Norwegian mine was mentioned in the mining literature in 1902, 1903 and 1934. The Norwegian placer was discussed in the literature in 1936. Homer Wilson operated a 5-cubic foot dredge at the Norwegian placer from March 27 to December 22, 1939, and treated 239,805 cubic yards of gravel to recover nearly 500 ounces of gold (Rowe 1941; WPA 1941).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Blake, Judge Henry N.

1896 "Historical Sketch of Madison County, Montana Territory,"

Contributions to the Historical Society of Montana

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Byrne, John and John J. Barry

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Calderhead, J. H.

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Calderhead, J. H. and O. M. Holmes

1900 "Montana Bureau of Agriculture, Labor, and Industry, 7th Annual Report."

Dingman, Oscar A.

1934 "Placer Mining in Montana",

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Gilbert, F. C.

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Leeson, M. A.

1885

History of Montana 1739-1885

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Lorain, S. H.

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Lyden, Charles J.

1948 "The Gold Placers of Montana",

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Memoir 26

. Montana School of Mines, Butte.

Rowe, Jesse Perry

1941

Geography and Natural Resources of Montana

. Montana State University, 1933 (revised 1941). Missoula

Sahinen, Uuno M.

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

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1891

Reports of Inspectors of Mines, State of Montana, year ending November 30th, 1890

. Journal Publishing Company, Helena.

Tansley, Wilfred and Schafer, Paul A., and Hart, Lyman H.

1933 "A Geological Reconnaissance fo the Tobacco Root Mountains, Madison County, Montana",

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, Mem. 9.

 

Winchell, Alexander Newton

1914 "Mining Districts of the Dillon Quadrangle, Montana and Adjacent Areas",

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Wolle, Muriel Sibell

1963

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Sage Books, Athens, Ohio

Work Projects Administration (WPA) Mineral Resources Survey

1941

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.