The Woodman mining district (also known as the Lolo, Lo Lo, or Mormon Creek district) is located in Missoula County south of the city of Missoula and includes the northern foothills of the Sapphire and Bitterroot Mountain ranges. It is bounded on the south by Ravalli County and on the north by Lolo Creek and the Clark Fork River. The Chickman and the Lawyers Combination were the primary mines producing gold and copper ore, respectively.
The district is underlain by rocks of the Belt series, predominantly shales and limestones of the Newland formation. The Precambrian sedimentary rocks are cut by diorite. The ore, which carries both gold and copper, is deposited in veins (Sahinen 1935; Rowe 1941).
In 1860 Frank Worden and C. P. Higgins established a trading post at Hell's Gate, which formed the nucleus of a small village on the Mullan Road. The mining development of western Montana was made possible by the Mullan Road, built 1859-62, which connected Fort Benton and Walla Walla. The Mullan Road and the building of the Jocko Agency brought a large number of men into the country. The mines at Wild Horse Creek in British Columbia drew prospectors through the Missoula Valley and Hells' Gate. The town of Missoula was established in the winter of 1864-65 by the building of a sawmill and grist mill and business house by Worden & Co. Frenchtown was established in 1864. The agricultural development of the Missoula valley was helped by the placer gold mining camps in the 1860s in Montana and in Idaho. Drifters began to settle in the Missoula Valley. The most direct influence were those at Cedar Creek, west of Missoula, the Bitterroot. The 1860s stampede lasted until the end of the 1870s. The region was not self-sufficient, but Missoula later became a distributing center (Leeson 1885; Coon 1926).
Lolo Creek has long been used as an east-west transportation route. In 1854 Captain John Mullan traveled from the Bitterroot Valley to the West Coast via the Native American trail over Lolo Pass, which he found very difficult to travel. The discovery of gold at Alder Gulch and Virginia City in the 1860s revived the idea of a wagon road over Lolo Pass, but funding was difficult. Eventually the Lolo trail was replaced by a narrow road that reached Lolo Hot Springs in 1888 (the road was gravelled in 1935). In 1889 the Northern Pacific Railroad branch line through the Bitterroot reached the town of Lolo (Lolo History Committee 1976).
During the late 1800s three settlements were established along Lolo Creek: Lolo, Woodman, and Lolo Hot Springs. Prospectors explored the hills surrounding Woodman and Lolo, most of them moving on to more promising strikes elsewhere. Lolo Creek joins the Bitterroot River near the town of Lolo. By the 1880s Lolo Hot Springs was a vacation resort, and Woodman served as a stage stop between Lolo and Lolo Hot Springs. Woodman was named for Dan Woodman, who had moved to the Missoula area in 1864 and settled with his family in the Lolo canyon by 1888 (Lolo History Committee 1976).
There were several gold- or copper-bearing veins on both sides of Lolo Creek. On the south side of the creek, about seven miles from the town of Lolo, are true fissure veins. The most developed vein assayed about $8 per ton in gold. The Woodman district produced some gold-bearing copper ore, but no production was reported between 1922 and 1935. The principal mines are on Woodman Creek about a mile above its junction with Lolo Creek (Rowe 1911; Sahinen 1935).
A 1947 map showed only one area of placer operations in the Lolo Creek district, which was on Woodman Creek (a tributary about 10 miles west of Lolo). No placer gold was produced since 1904. The placer gold probably originated in the veins developed by the Chickman, Lawyers Combination, Sheldon, and Triantler mines of the district (Lyden 1948).
BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT
Rowe (1941) said that the Woodman district was also known as the Mormon Creek district. He described it as located 11 miles west of Lolo. Rowe also defined a Lolo or Lolo Creek district located east of Lolo Hot Springs. Sahinen (1935) defined the Woodman district as 10 miles west of Lolo.
The district as defined by Rowe (1941) and Sahinen (1935) is shown on Figure 1 within the larger district boundaries as defined by the AMRB (1994).
HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES
note: This list includes mines located on the north side of Lolo Creek.
The Boss claim was located in the Lolo area and was patented in 1883 by John Provan and Otto Gussefeld (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Broadgage patented claim was located south of Lolo by J. Landrum, James Simms, R. W. Bell, and E. Hacket (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Bunker Hill property produced copper-silver ore in 1917 that was shipped direct to a smelter (Sahinen 1957).
Centipede and Tarantula
The Centipede and Tarantula was a patented claim located on Lolo Creek in 1891, 14 miles from the Bitterroot River, by Robert Coombs, Huber Vinyard, and Bronson Goldthwaite (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Champion mining claim was located one mile north of Lolo Forks, on the west side of a creek going through the Woodman Ranch. It was patented in 1883 by Walter Matheson and George Deiterich (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Chickman mine (also known as Chickamain and Chickaman) was located on the north side of Lolo Creek about six miles west of the town of Lolo and one mile above the site of Fort Fizzle. The Chickman was patented in 1883 by John Provan and John McKay and was producing gold before 1890. Provan operated the mine and stamp mill reportedly producing $25,000 worth of gold, but there are no known records of production. The mine was developed by three adits (Sahinen 1957; Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Dixie was located 1.5 miles south of Lolo in 1881, next to the Northern Pacific Railroad line, and patented by J. Landrum, James Simms, R. W. Bell, and E. Hackett (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Forlorn Hope claim was patented in 1867 by Mat Adams, C. O. Darling, Charles Hart, Tom Simpson, Henry Chambers, John Carpenter, and F. S. Miller. It was located on a ridge south of Van Ettan's Creek (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Friend claim was patented in 1883 by Robert Fenner, Joe Lacaff, and E. F. Warren. It was located 36 miles from Missoula, "1 mile northwest of ZO Ranch" (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Halton mining claim was located at the confluence of Lolo and Granite Creeks and was patented in 1883 by Sam P. Panton (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Hilltop mining claim was located one mile north of Lolo Forks, on the west side of a creek going through the Woodman Ranch. It was patented in 1883 by Walter Matheson and George Deiterich (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Lawyers Combination mine was located on Woodman Creek in the N1/2 of Section 29, T12N, R21W. Small shipments of copper-silver ore were made from the mine in 1916, 1917, and 1922. The mine was developed by a vertical shaft and three adits. The copper mine was operated from 1898 to 1914 by Halloway, Davis, and Thomason. Legal complications reduced profits, and it came to be known as the "lawyers' combination." A stamp mill and a water wheel at Woodman crushed the ore from this mine and another small copper mine and a gold mine in the same area, but at least one ore shipment (in 1917) went directly to a smelter (Lolo History Committee 1976; Sahinen 1957; Sahinen 1935; Mineral Resources 1916-17, 1922).
The Lolo Center claim was patented by Walter Hollensteiner and Otto Gussefeld (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Lolo Chief was a patented claim that was located 1 1/2 miles north of Lolo and 1/4 miles from Woodman. It was located in 1881 by Dan Woodman, Joe Lacaff, and Robert Fenner (Lolo History Commitee 1976).
The Mareledge was a claim patented in 1883 by F. F. and S. G. Fisher, W. Mellick, Joe Rainey, and John Provan (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Mollie C. was a claim in the Lolo area patented in 1883 by L. M. P. and William Davis, F. R. Burger, S. M. Fausett, and C. C. Rennix (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Nez Perce claim was located in the Lolo area and was patented in 1883 by W. Matheson and George Deiterich (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Northern Pacific was a patented claim located in 1881 one mile south of Lolo by George Buck and C. M. Cates (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Plumed Knight claim was patented in 1883 by F. F. Fisher, W. F. Mellick, Joe Rainey, John Provan, and Robert Lichendorfer. It was located in the Plumed Knight area (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Red Bear was a patented claim filed in 1867 on a ridge three miles west of Mat Adams on Van Ettan. The owners were Mat Adams, George Brundage, Charles Hart, C. O. Darling, A. Badgeley, John Harkrider, W. Edwards, Henry Chambers, John Carpenter, and F. S. Miller (Lolo History Committee 1976).
The Sheldon mine was located on Sheldon Creek in the NE1/4 of Section 27, T12N, R22W, about a mile east of the Triantler. Several hundred feet of development work were done, but there are no known records of production from the mine. Sheldon Gulch was also reportedly the site of a molybdenum mine (Lolo History Commitee 1976; Sahinen 1957).
The Thanksgiving property produced copper-silver ore in 1917 that was shipped direct to a smelter (Sahinen 1957).
The Triantler mine is located in the NW1/4 of Section 27, T12N, R22W, on Lolo Creek 14 miles west of the town of Lolo. Several hundred feet of development work were done on the mine, but there are no known records of production (Sahinen 1957).
The Whaley group of 12 unpatented claims are in Sections 22 and 29, T11N, R19W south of Missoula. Two samples taken by the owner, M. L. Whaley of Missoula, assayed 10.92 and 13.64 percent copper with a little gold and silver. Barite is exposed in a shallow cut. Lead is also present in some of the exposures (Sahinen 1957).
Abandoned Mine Reclamation Bureau (AMRB)
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