aka Kendall


Located in the North Moccasin Mountains, a small range of low hills north of Lewistown in central Montana, the North Moccasin mining district missed the big bonanza developments typical of Montana mining districts of the 1860's and 1870's. The area was not discovered until the 1880's when placers were developed in Iron Gulch, Bed Rock and Plum Creek by John Brooks, W. C. Waldorf, W. C. Draper and the Buchanan brothers. Although nuggets up to four ounces were taken out of Iron Gulch, the lack of water caused the abandonment of the placers after a few short seasons. Some small pyritic lode deposits were worked in the 1880's, but these mines were also soon abandoned. Paying lode deposits were not discovered in the district until 1893, further, the ore was not free milling. Even with the late discovery, the ores were difficult to treat and little development work was done. The advent of the improved cyanide process in 1900 brought a boom to the district as "cyanide ores" became the subject of wild speculation. The stock of the Barnes-King Mining Company was over-subscribed by half a million dollars within eight hours of its introduction. The heavy influx of capital and an abundance of cyanide ore brought a twenty year period of sustained large scale effort. Activity was centered around four groups of claims: the Kendall, the Santiago, the Barnes-King and the Horse Shoe groups. In 1903 and 1904 Fergus County lead Montana in gold production and most of the Fergus production came from North Moccasin mines (Blixt 1933).

The regional geology consists of thick Paleozoic and Mesozoic sediments cut by Tertiary age porphyries. Ore was extracted primarily from limestone near the top of the Madison formation; however in the Kendall mine, ore was also mined in a greatly altered portion of an out-lying irregular dike-like mass of porphyry and in sandstones and calcareous shales of the Quadrant and Ellis formations. The ore bodies in the district are tabular in shape, irregular in outline and uniform in thickness. Ore shoots dipped from 20 to 60 degrees near the outcrop, but below 1,000 feet flattened out. The shoots varied from 50 to 200 feet in width and 100 to 800 feet in length. Nearly all of the ore is from the zone of oxidation. The only sulphides produced in the district were shipped from Bedrock Creek on the northwest slope of the North Moccasin range. There were no tellurides observed in the mine, but evidence suggests the gold was originally in telluride form (Blixt 1933; Connolly 1933).

The lode claims located in the early 1880's sought to work small pyritic veins and two small stamp mills were erected to work the ores. However, these enterprises were poorly equipped to recover values from the ore and quickly folded. The district reported no lode production prior to the 1890's (Freeman 1917).

Harry T. Kendall came to the area in 1900 and rapidly developed mining properties on a north / south belt on the east side of the North Moccasin range. Kendall had previously built and run the cyanide process mill at the Spotted Horse mine in the nearby Warm Spring district. After buying the Leaking and Klondike claims from Charles Allen, Kendall erected a 50-ton cyanide plant. By the end of the year, Kendall was rewarded for his efforts by $2,400 in gold bricks (Foster and Morton 1974; Herbort 1989).

The improved cyanide process introduced at the turn of the century finally allowed the ores of the district to be worked. The oxide ore was crushed and treated by direct cyanidation resulting in about 90 percent recovery of the gold. Kendall mine ore averaged $5 to $6 gold per ton; the Barnes-King and Santiago ore averaged $5 to $9 per ton. About 0.1 ounce of silver was recovered per ton of ore. About 10 to 15 percent of the ore was labeled "black ore" from its close association with bitumen. This ore caused problems in the mill because it did not respond to cyanidation. For it to be processed, it had to be prepared by roasting prior to treatment (Blixt 1933).

Mines in the district pulled ore from both shafts and from open pits. Ore was soft enough that hand operated augers were used to drill charges. In most of the district's mines the back was supported by stulls and occasionally pillars were left; in the parts of the Kendall mine square-sets were used in the stopes. Underground mining proceeded by simply following the ore with little regard to geology (Blixt 1933).

The first producing mine in the district was the Barnes-King which was discovered in 1893. Its four original owners were Joe Wunderlin, Clarence E. Barnes, John P. Barnes and M. L. Woodman. Like the other mines in the area, their operation was hampered by difficult to treat ore and lack of capital. Although an experimental 50-foot shaft was worked in 1900, production did not start after the success at the Kendall mill. With knowledge of how their rich ore could be worked, the original investors sold half interest in the mine for $75,000 to John King and other New York investors who owned the Great Northern Mining and Development Company of Gilt Edge. In 1901 a 100-ton cyanide mill was built to work the mine's ore. Although crews had worked through the winter to have the mill building completed by spring, the cyanide equipment was mired on Arrow Creek Hill, half-way from Fort Benton and the mine. The equipment finally arrived in September of 1901 and was quickly installed. In the first seven weeks of operation the mill returned $35,000. The mine and mill were able to distribute half a million in dividends to its investors in its first four years. When the mine was sold in 1905, the mine's reputation was such that its capitalization stock was quickly snapped up by investors and investment exceeded the mine's ability to produce. As a result the stock price plummeted and the mine was forced to temporarily close. Despite the vagaries of the stock market, the mine was still able to produce over $800,000 in gold between 1907 and 1912 (Wolle 1963; Foster 1990).

The second mine to be discovered was the Santiago group in 1898. It was sold to the adjacent Barnes-King mine in 1907, but they were forced to sell the property after their stock problems in 1908. The six claims in the group were operated by the North Moccasin Mining Company for one year in 1909. The mine was reopened in 1912 and was worked from the Barnes-King mine. Although the shaft was repaired and reopened in 1913, thereafter the mine was operated as part of the Barnes-King properties.

The Kendall mine was developed at about the same time as the Barnes-King, but it was the first to profitably work the ore. In 1900, Harry Kendall built an 50-ton mill on a claim staked on some rich surface float. Kendall hauled in the equipment for the steam-powered mill over the summer and had it operational by November. It was the first operation in the district to use the improved cyanide process. Employing 25 men, the mill was put in operation without a mine excavation to provide ore. Using only rich surface rock Kendall and crew were able to quickly produce four big bars of gold. When Kendall dumped his bars on a bank counter at Lewistown and declared he wished to make a "deposit", he created quite a stir. The bullion was later assayed at a value of $2,400. Kendall's success was quickly duplicated in the other major mines (Foster 1990).

The Kendall Mining Company also developed a 400 horsepower hydroelectric plant to provide power for their operation. The mine and mill went on to produce one million dollars in dividends in its first five years of production. (Wolle 1963; Munson 1989; Foster 1990).

The fourth mine, the Horse Shoe group, consisted of several small cuts and stopes. The underground mine was developed from the 200-foot level of the Barnes-King mine. A 3,700-foot tunnel was eventually driven from the Barnes-King through the Discovery, Boxer and Mule Shoe claims and, ultimately, to the mouth of Little Dog Gulch.

In 1915 the Barnes-King Development Company consolidated the mining properties in the North Moccasin district. They purchased the Kendall mine and mill and a 400-horsepower hydroelectric plant on Warm Spring Creek. By 1920, all the $3.00 per ton ore had been extracted and the company halted operations. The complex was placed in the hands of lessees in September of 1920. In 1921 all the workings below the 500-foot level were stripped of machinery and by 1923 all worked ended.

The town of Kendall dates back to 1901 and the original development of the Kendall mines. It was laid out on a homestead of William A. Shaules, who staked out his land and sold lots to businesses and homeowners. In May of 1901 the town had several dwellings, a miner's union hall, a saloon and a restaurant. One other building was noted but not described; it held two stagecoach loads of prostitutes who had arrived before most of the businesses. In August, the town had a new livery stable, a general store and two more saloons. In October the tally of businesses included five saloons, three general stores, two hotels, two livery stables, a restaurant, a butcher shop, a tailor shop, an assay office, and a photographic gallery. Within a year the town had grown to rival nearby Lewistown and had its own newspaper, the Kendall Chronicle, to crow about its virtues. Several of the new buildings were made of stone, including the R. C. Cook building which housed a bank and a fraternal hall, the H. V. Turner block of shops, and the Shaules Hotel at the corner of McKinley Avenue, Teddy Street and King Mill Road. The wedge-shaped building cost $12,000, was two stories high and held 26 well-appointed rooms. The hotel, as were all the buildings in town, was illuminated by electricity from the Kendall power plant. A few years later the town was improved by the construction of the stone-faced Jones Opera House. A Presbyterian church was built in 1907 at a cost of $3,500 (Wolle 1963; Foster 1990).

In its first year of life the town was served by two stages a day. In later years three stages a day carried tens of thousands of dollars of gold bullion down to the banks of Lewistown. Plans were made for a Locomobile to speed service and increase the freight traffic and rumors of a railroad connection circulated. At its peak the town was said to have had a population of 1,500 and its mines credited with between $9 and $15 million in gold. However, when the Barnes-King mine folded in 1920, the town disappeared (Wolle 1963).

Although the district was prospected for placer gold prior to the development of the lode mines, little gold was found. The district was not developed as a source of placer gold until 1930 when modest sluicing of the streams began. In 1935, the most productive year, only 35 ounces of gold were recovered. Iron Gulch has produced the largest amount with lesser production in McClure Gulch, Bed Rock Creek, and Plum Creek. All told $6,300 was reported to have been recovered in 14 seasons with two additional seasons not added to the total (Blixt 1933; Lyden 1948).

The placer gold may have been associated with the intrusive rocks of the district; however, no gold has been recovered from creeks which cross the mineralized zone developed by lode mines (Lyden 1948).

All told, production for the district was estimated in 1935 to be $9,000,000.


Sahinen (1935) places the North Moccasin district on the southeastern edge of the North Moccasin Mountains about 15 miles north of Lewistown. Lyden (1948) states that placer claims in the district were primarily found in Iron Gulch and to a lesser extent in McClure Gulch, Bed Rock Gulch, and Plum Creek. Figure 1 shows the mining district boundaries as defined by the AMRB (1994) as well as an area which contains all the major mines.


Barnes - King Mining Company

The first mine in the district was discovered in 1893; the Barnes-King was located in section 29 T18N, R18E . It was initially considered a worthless property and the locator had to liberally salt the mine to sell it. The "dupe" of the sale was C. E. Barnes, the ex-Mayor of Lewistown. Although he was aware of the scam at the time, Barnes went through with the sale as he believed the untainted ore to be rich enough. Under the ownership of J. T. Wunderlin, John P. Barnes, M. L. Woodman and C. E. Barnes, the property began to be developed in 1900. In the spring of that year, E. M. King obtained a bond on the property, valued at $75,000. Several men were put working on the property, but when the bond expired, King did not take it up. Instead, he offered to put up a $100,000 cyanide mill in exchange for half interest in the property. In the spring of 1901, when the mill was described in the Great Falls Tribune (July 4, 1901) the timber work had been completed and the machinery was enroute, one load in Fort Benton and one in Harlowton. When the mill went on-line, average production was rumored to be around $700 to $800 per day and ore was worked for around $2.00 per ton (Anon 1904; Blixt 1933; Robertson 1950; Wolle 1963).

By 1904, when the mine was described by the Mining World, the mine was located at the head of Main Street in the town of Kendall. The ore body of the mine had been explored by adit, shaft and diamond drill and found to extend 300 feet below the 200-foot level of the mine. The cyanide mill was rated at 175 tons per day. The ore was not free milling, but could be treated by cyanidation. The ore was first roasted in an oil-fired rotary roaster; it was then crushed by rollers and finally run through the cyanide process. The mill was efficient, recovering 90% of the metal values. In 1904 the mine and mill were reported to be producing $30,000 in bullion per month with no end of production in sight. At the end of 1905 the mine and mill were still recovering $25,000 per month and had produced $1,800,000 with $500,000 in dividends declared (Anon 1904; Blixt 1933; Herbort 1989).

While investors had actively sought to buy the mine, these had been ignored until the middle of 1906 when an offer of $1,200,000 was made. The Barnes-King Development Company was capitalized to a tune of $2,000,000 and its stock was oversubscribed by half a million in eight hours. The company took over the mine in 1907, put an additional 200 men to work and made additional improvements. However, in the fall of 1907 a rumor of the owners salting the mine when the rich ore ran out caused the stock to plummet. Investors and promoters alike were caught in the crash. By November work was suspended on the excuse that there was a shortage of cyanide. The mine eventually resumed production and from 1907 to 1910 the mine produced 237,195 tons of ore which returned $828,110 in gold. The Barnes-King Mining Company was dissolved in 1925 (Wolle 1963).

About 1.5 miles north of the Barnes-King, a rich deposit was located by the company. Although the new discovery was separated from the mill by a mountain, a $30,000 tunnel was excavated to move the ore to the mill rather than erecting a more expensive mill at the new site (Foster 1990).

Barnes-King stock took another tumble in 1909. On July 10, 1910, the mine closed its doors for three months. Thereafter, the mine continued to be worked intermittently through 1920 and provided access for both the Santiago and the Horse Shoe mines. Although most of the ore was from the 400 foot level, ultimately the mine reached a depth of 740 feet. Around 1935, all of the Barnes King properties were leased to the North Moccasin Mines Syndicate; in 1940 the Syndicate purchased the properties (Robertson 1950; Wolle 1963).

The Barnes - King Mining Company is listed in the Montana Mining Index from 1903 to 1912 and from 1937 to 1940. It is also listed extensively in the mining literature from 1903 through 1937 (WPA 1941).

Horse Shoe and Mule Shoe

The Horse Shoe group was located by Adolf Harmon in 1896 in section 29 T18N, R18E on the north end of the Barnes-King group at the mouth of Little Dog Canyon. The mine consisted of several small cuts and stopes. J. P. Barnes purchased half-interest a year or after the mine was located. The other half was soon after sold to C. E. Barnes. In 1905 a 6,000 foot tunnel was begun to tap ore bodies at depth, but was not mentioned in the mining literature after its advent. After 1912, the underground mine was developed from the 200 foot level of the Barnes-King mine. A 3,700 foot tunnel was eventually driven from the Barnes-King through the Discovery, Boxer and Mule Shoe claims and ultimately to the mouth of Little Dog Gulch (Blixt 1933; Wolle 1963).


The Kendall mine in section 31 T18N, R18E was originally claimed in 1898 by W. C. Draper and W. C. Kendall in conjunction with their Santiago claim. But when they came to stake it, they decided to let the claim go. Instead Charlie Allen located the Leaking and other claims on the ground and gave Tom Riser half interest for digging a ten-foot hole on one of them. In November of 1900, Harry T. Kendall bought out Tom Riser's interest for $150, took out a six-month bond on Allen's half for $500 and bought the adjacent Klondike claim for $1,500. Two men were put working on the property for the life of the bond. After the bond was taken up, Kendall had a 50-ton cyanide mill erected to work some of the ore. This was the first such mill in the district. It ran successfully and produced $2,400 in gold bullion by year's end (Anon 1904; Blixt 1933; Herbort 1989).

Late in the fall of 1900, Kendall's success was noted by major mining companies. When Kendall was asked how much he would sell the company for, he jokingly replied half a million dollars. The questioner represented Finch and Campbell of Spokane and he advised the amazed Kendall to settle for $460,000 and 10% interest. Soon thereafter, Kendall bonded the 12 claim property to Finch and Campbell retaining a one-tenth interest in the new Kendall Gold Mining Company. In March of 1901, Henry Parent arrived in camp; he was hired to tear down the original mill and erect a 500-ton mill on the same site. Water from Big Warm Spring on the Horseshoe Bar ranch was run two miles in a ditch to connect with a 200 horsepower / 7,000 volt power plant which powered the mine and mill. A Pelton wheel also turned a 150 horsepower pump that forced water up a six mile pipe to a storage tank at the new mill. When construction was complete Allen was placed in charge of the mill. He also built a boarding house for 40 workers, a residence for himself and a stable (Robertson 1950; Foster 1990).

By July 1901, the mill was working 100 tons of ore a day with a return of $8.00 per ton from unsorted ore. Ore was extracted from open cuts, adits and an incline shaft. Giant stopes were excavated that fed the ore through chutes to mill level without any handling. The ore body was known to extend 750 feet and to a depth of over 400 feet. In 1905 or 1906 a 600-foot vertical shaft was sunk and a 150 horsepower double-drum electric hoist was installed. A 75 horsepower compressor powered 8 drills. In the first five years of operation the mill turned out $2,500,000 in gold bullion and paid out $1,000,000 in dividends while paying for all surface and mine developments. The Kendall Gold Mining Company continued operation of the mine until 1913; an estimated 700,000 tons of ore was worked to provide dividends of $1,450,000. The mine ultimately reached a depth of 550 feet. Total production prior to 1913 was more than 700,000 tons of ore which reportedly resulted in $1,450,000 in dividend distributions (Anon 1904; Blixt 1933).

When the mine was sold to the Barnes-King Development Company in 1915, ore was exhausted to a depth of 560 feet while the mine extended another 180 feet down. In one incident involving the collapse of a large square-set stope, a large amount of oxidized ore was lost. The mine was operated by lessees from 1913 to 1921. Their activity was primarily in the upper levels and the open pit. The shaft was, however, sunk an additional 63 feet (Blixt 1933).

The Kendall mine is listed in the Montana Mining Index from 1903 to 1923 and in 1934. The mine is listed extensively in the mining literature from 1903 to 1920 and in 1939. When visited in 1989, the mine consisted of a large open pit and the Kendall pit office and vault (WPA 1941).

North Moccasin

The North Moccasin property adjoins the Barnes-King mine on the west. It is often referred to as the Santiago and is discussed under that name.

The North Moccasin mine is listed in the Montana Mining Index from 1907 through 1923 (except 1911) and is discussed extensively in the mining literature from 1904 through 1921 (WPA 1941; Wolle 1963).


The six claims of the Santiago group are located in section 31 T18N, R18E between the Barnes-King group and the Kendall group. Discovered in 1898, by W. C. Draper and W. C. Waldorf, by 1901 ten men were working the claim. In 1904 the mine's shaft was down to 100 feet with contracts let to sink it another 100 feet and to put in a 100-foot level. The mine was combined with the adjacent Barnes-King property in June of 1907. In 1908, after the collapse of the Barnes-King Company, the six adjacent Santiago claims were sold to the North Moccasin Gold Mining Company (NMGM). NMGM had erected the third mill in the area in 1902 and used it to treat the Santiago ore until 1909. When activity ceased in 1909 the mine had produced 27,000 tons of ore which yielded $127,000 in gold. In 1912 the mine was reopened through the 400-foot level of the Barnes-King mine. The next year the shaft was repaired and reopened and ore began to be extracted from three levels. The mine worked progressively poorer ores until in July 1920 the mine had exhausted the $3.00 ores and was forced to close. For the next three years the mine and mill were worked by lessees on a sliding scale of royalties. In 1921 all pipes and rails were stripped from the 500-foot level. All operations ceased in 1923 (Blixt 1933; Wolle 1963).

Total production for the Santiago (North Moccasin) group from 1908 to 1922 was reported to be 116,835 ounces of gold and 18,485 ounces of silver from 321,232 tons of ore (Robertson 1950).

Other Mines of the District

Other important mines listed by Robertson (1950) include the Lead Chief (Parrent), Parsons, Republic (Hamilton Lead), Abby, Blue Bell, Golden Discovery, H and H, Hazard Group and the Vulcan and Erie.


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