HISTORIC CONTEXT

aka Cedar Plain aka Crow Creek

Around 1866 gold was discovered in the placer gravels south of Radersburg. But in the subsequent years until 1870, only several hundred dollars of gold were taken out. Local estimates place the figure somewhat higher between $500,000 and a $1,000,000 between 1866 and 1904. Five men were reported to have taken $5,000 out of one claim on Keating Gulch and a pocket in Mountain Gulch yielded 145 ounces of gold ( Lyden 1948; Winchell 1914).

Prospecting for the source of the gold lead directly to the discovery of the Keating lode, two miles northwest of town, by John Keating and David Blacker in 1866. During the late 1860's and 1870's the Keating, Ohio-Keating, Diamond, Iron Clad and Leviathan were the leading mineral properties in what was then called the Cedar Plains district. Although the free-milling oxidized ore was at first worked by an arrastra, in 1870 a 15-stamp mill was brought in to work the ore. The Keating operation became the most productive mine in the district, a position it continued to hold throughout the history of what became known as the Radersburg district. However, it was not alone, in 1870 the Keating mill was joined by the 12-stamp Davis mill, the Allen 6-stamp mill, Nave Brothers 5-stamp mill and arrastra and How and Woods 2-stamp mill. Despite the numerous mills, the district's milling capacity was only 56 tons per day. The total return was $200,000 per year for lodes and $50,000 for the placers. Although Keating and Blacker reported profits of $40,000 to $50,000 in the next few years, the simple oxidized ores ran out at the 100 ft level and mining efforts turned elsewhere (Bard 1910a; 1910b; Winchell 1914; Corry 1933; Gilbert 1932a; Pardee and Schrader 1933).

The mines in the Radersburg district are in porphyritic igneous rocks which intrude Cretaceous sediments and are partially covered with Tertiary deposits. The igneous rocks are chiefly andesites formed at two or more periods bracketed by the Cretaceous and the Tertiary period deposits. The andesite is extensively altered near narrow veins of pyrite in a gangue of calcite and quartz. The pyrite veins are primarily gold bearing, but some silver and other metals are present. Chalcopyrite, spalerite, galena, marcasite, pyrrhotete and chalcocite also occur, but rarely. In addition to the veins, several north-south replacement lodes are in bedding planes in the upper part of the quartzite beds in the quadrant quartzite, of Carboniferous age. The lodes dip with the rocks, 50 degrees east, and from outcrops seem to extend for half a mile. They are open to a depth of 600 ft where they persist horizontally another 800 ft. They consist mainly of iron and manganese oxides; lead carbonate, or cerusite; and calcite. From the remnants of galena it is inferred that the deposits were originally sulphides (Swallow 1891; Schrader 1929; Pardee and Schrader 1933; Freeman 1958).

As the mines became deeper and ores more complex, mining in the district gradually declined. The district was revitalized in the 1880's by the construction of a local blast furnace and the construction of the Northern Pacific Railway. In 1885 W. Lawrence Austin erected a seven tier 25-ton blast furnace at Toston. Using the pyritic process the furnace ran for three years. With this process, the sulfur in the ore was used to fuel the furnace. The simple sandstone furnace gave way to a Herreshoff cast iron water jacketed furnace. Matte drawn from the process was shipped to smelters as far as Swansea, Wales for processing. The cost of labor was given as the reason for closure in 1888. However, the loss of the furnace was not a hard blow to the district; construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1883 allowed poorer and more complex ores to be cheaply transported. After the furnace was abandoned sulphide ores were shipped to Butte and East Helena. The district continued to be an active producer until the early 1890's when silver prices plummeted. Swallow (1891) list the Keating, Ringwald, Eiffel, Edith, Black Hawk, Elgin, Jo-Jo and Jewell mines as making regular shipments to the smelter (Austin 1886; Bard 1910a; 1910b; Corry 1933; Gilbert 1932a; Swallow 1891).

Not until 1899 would the district resume production. The Keating mine was joined in 1905 by the Black Friday as the two major producers in the district. The Barnato mine and 10-stamp mill began operation in 1906. The mines of the district began to be leased to the East Helena smelter. By 1909 the Keating, Black Friday and Ohio were the major producers, providing the majority of the district's 13,239 tons of ore. Production increased until, in 1915, the Keating, Copper King, Alaska and Arthur Lee extracted 35,831 tons of ore worth $522,415. Production then slowly eroded until only 87 tons were produced in 1919. In the 1920's a moderate level of production was achieved with 2,000 to 12,000 tons of ore typically produced with a high of 17,000 tons in 1926. Although production slipped down to 662 tons in 1930, the next year the Ohio-Keating began shipping ore to the smelter and bullion from their new 100-ton cyanide mill; the smelter returned $22,360 and the cyanide mill $31,358. The mill operated at 58 tons per day in the mid-1930's (Freeman 1958; Gilbert 1932a; Pardee and Schrader 1933).

Winchell (1914) estimated that as much as $3,000,000 in gold and other metals was extracted from the district. From 1901 to 1948 the district's principal mines yielded 230,000 ounces of gold, 64,000 ounces of gold and 1,100 tons of copper (Winchell 1914; Corry 1933; WHR 1992).

Placer gold was last worked from 1940 to 1942 by the Cooley Gravel Company dredge which recovered 10,050 ounces of gold at a rate of $.22 per cubic yard. The dredge operation was closed by Federal gold mining prohibitions during World War II (Freeman 1958).

BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT

As with most mining districts, the Radersburg, Cedar Plains and Winston mining districts on the east side of the Elkhorn Mountains have been discussed both in combination or separately with changing boundaries. To complicate the matter, in the Radersburg area, the placer workings were called the Crow Creek district which extended up to the Wilson-Tizer district north of Elkhorn where gold was panned as early as 1858.

Corry (1933) discusses a combined Townsend-Radersburg-Winston district in his descriptions of the geology and historical development. In this work, the district names, Cedar Plain and Radersburg, are used interchangeably. On the other hand, Bard (1910a) and Winchell (1914) describe the Cedar Plains (or Radersburg) as a separate sub-district, but do little to define the district boundaries. Pardee and Schrader (1933) provide an artificial and somewhat loose definition, listing the Radersburg district as a township sized area on the east side of the Elkhorn Mountains adjoining the town of Radersburg. Lyden (1948), whose work discusses the Crow Creek placer district, centers the district upon lower Crow Creek and its tributaries, Keating Gulch and Johnny Gulch. He lists Tizer Basin as a sub-district of Crow Creek.

By combining historical sources, the Radersburg / Cedar Plains / Crow Creek district might be defined as a township sized area on the east side of the Elkhorn Mountains containing the drainage basins of lower Crow Creek, Keating Gulch and Johnny Gulch. This would also include any lode mines whose chief means of transportation are along these streams. This essentially conforms to Reed's (1951) boundaries (Figure 1) which shows the district as centering on the area just west of the town of Radersburg and west to the headwaters of Keating and Johnny gulches.

HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES

Black Friday Gold Mining Company.

The Black Friday Gold Mining Company is located three miles southwest of Radersburg. The mine was developed through an inclined shaft 500 ft deep. The mine was equipped to handle 30 to 50 tons per day and ore shoots were found to increase in size and value at depth. In 1909 from the 200 ft level 1150 tons of ore were extracted that returned over $50 per ton with a mining cost of $15 per ton (Bard 1910a; 1910b; Pardee and Schrader 1933).

Hard Cash

The Hard Cash mine is located on the southwest facing slope above Keating Gulch, the mine consists of shaft openings, adits, miners' cabins and shacks, a collapsed load out, and waste rock piles. This unpatented mine has been described as having a 500-ft adit to an ore shoot 250 ft long. The mine was active as recently as the 1970's and 1980's. It was listed as part of the Park District in 1891 (WHR 1992).

Jo Dandy

The Jo Dandy mine is located five miles southwest of Radersburg. The extensive workings were begun in 1925 and eventually extended to 2,500 ft. Net smelter returns from 1927 to 1929 amounted to $108,000 from 40,000 ounces of silver, and 2,700,000 pounds of lead. In 1929 the mine was the leading producer in the district (Schrader 1929).

Keating Lode

The Keating Lode, located two miles northwest of Radersburg, was discovered by John Keating and David Blacker in 1866. Initially, the ore from the mine was worked by an arrastra to both crush the ore and form amalgams. In 1870 Keating and Blacker installed a Postlewaite steam 15-stamp mill for crushing and the arrastra was used solely for amalgamation. The yield per ton was reported to be $20 and the yearly profit $10,000. The oxidized ore extended down 175 ft which was above a 59-ft zone of partial oxidation. In places the gold-bearing pyrite was free of gangue and in a well defined fissure. These ores were exhausted in 1878 and the mine remained idle until the Northern Pacific Railroad was built in 1883 (Corry 1933; Pardee and Schrader 1933).

The sulphide ores below the oxide ores were treated at the Toston furnace for three years before the mine was again left idle. In 1899 the mine resumed production and again led the district in production. When visited in 1910 the mine had a 350-ft vertical shaft and a 600-ft deep incline shaft. The longest level in the mine was 1,250 ft long, reached a depth of 1,200 ft and was on a vein of solid pyrite averaging $15.50 per ton. At one point the mine had stoped continuously for 840 ft (Bard 1910a; 1910b) When the mine was again closed in 1919, the incline shaft had been extended to 725 ft with the lowest level at 550 ft.

Ohio or Ohio-Keating

The Ohio mine or Ohio - Keatinis composed of 15 claims located in Section 13, T5N, R1W in Keating Gulch about 1000 ft west of the Keating. The Ohio was one of the earliest mines in the district with production dating from the 1860's and 1870's. Most of the oxidized ore was removed early in the district's history leaving the complex sulphides below. Ironically, with this mine the wider the vein the richer the ore values. When described in 1910, the mine utilized a 220-ft shaft to tap a 4-ft wide vein. In the 1920's the mine was one of the leading producers in the district. Ore was extracted from lenses of ore at a depth of 500 ft. Although water had filled the mine to the 300-ft level in 1931, as late as 1933 the mine continued to be the chief producer in the Townsend area. The underground and open pit mine sent ore to both smelters and to a 100-ton cyanide mill associated with the property. The above ground development at the mine consisted of a large mill building, storage buildings, assay/blacksmith shop, numerous cabins and associated structures, a collapsed shaft, open and collapsed adits (Bard 1910a; 1910b;WHR 1992).

San Anita

The San Anita is located on a ridge above Uncle Johnny's Gulch. This mine was patented in 1914 as part of the Santa Anita Mining Company's holdings which included the Santa Clara and Santa Monica (WHR 1992).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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1886 "The Toston Smelting Company of Montana Report - 1886". Company prospectus.

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