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HISTORIC CONTEXT

Sub-district of the Argenta District

The Ermont sub-district is relatively recent in origin and is noteworthy as being the site of one of the last gold rushes in the United States. Claims in the district were first prospected in 1926 by D. V. Erwin and W. J. Corbett. They continued to prospect the ground until 1927 when they formed the Standard Silver & Lead Company of Spokane, Washington. The company developed the properties with several trenches and shallow shafts; the deepest of which was 110 feet with a 100 foot drift from the bottom. In 1929 the property was bonded to James Kidwell who shipped some ore from the Yellow Bird Claim.

With the inflated price of gold during the Great Depression, the Ermont District was in 1932 the scene of a gold rush. Men flooded into the area and staked out ground around the Ermont mine. Unfortunately, the only value received by the speculative prospectors was when 33 of the claims were purchased by the Ermont mine. About this same time the Ermont mine was sold to R. B. Caswell, J. R. Bowles and F. C. Gram. The Ermont properties resumed limited production from 1932 until 1936.

The district boomed after 1936 when a 100-ton cyanide mill was erected. The mill obtained water from Rattlesnake Creek via a four mile pipe; electric power was brought in by extending the line to the Gold Leaf Mill in Bannock. The Ermont mill ran three shifts and employed 60 men. The monthly output for the mine and mill was reported to be $22,000. Although production was halted during World War II, the mine continued to produce intermittently until 1963. This one mine produced over one and a quarter ton of gold (Geach 1972; Wolle 1963).

In the mid-1970s the Ermont Mining District (24BE213) was recorded by B. J. Earle of the Bureau of Land Management (1977) and Russell W. Bessette of Western Interpretive Services (1975). At the time only a few buildings remained of the Ermont townsite, but the area contained numerous pits and diggings. A good example of a headframe was standing at the time and some mining equipment was noted.

BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT

The Ermont mine is generally included as being within the Argenta district (Sahinen 1935; Geach 1972). Shenon (1936) discusses the Ermont sub-district as 31 claims that are in section 35, T6S, R11W. (The Shenon text locates the Ermont claims in section 30 which is an error). Figure 1 shows the Ermont sub-district as described by Shenon (1936).

HISTORIES OF SIGNIFICANT MINES

Badger

The Badger claim is in the SE1/4 of section 26, T6S, R11W, north of the the Ermont No.. 19 shaft. It was claimed during the 1932 gold rush by Hurly Leach and D. V. Erwin. The mine was developed by an inclined shaft at least 110 feet deep into a silicified replacement body in Jefferson Dolomite. The mine was worked from 1933 to 1936 and again in 1941. Total production was 859 tons containing 330 ounces of gold, 123 ounces of silver and 102 pounds of copper. The mine was relocated in 1962 by R. M. Fleming (Geach 1972).

Ermont

The Ermont property is a complex of 31 claims most of which are in section 35 T6S, R11W. The mine was located in 1926 by D. V. Erwin and W. J. Corbett , who continued to prospect in the vicinity until 1927. In that year the property was bonded to Standard Silver and Lead Company of Spokane which ran several test trenches and shafts. The deepest shaft was 110 feet with a 100 foot of drift to the south from the bottom. The property was bonded to James Kidwell of Portland in 1929 and good ore was pulled from a fissure in the limestone in the Yellow Bird claim.

Ore from the mine is found at the contact of the native limestone and porphyritic andesite. Fracture zones around the mine are highly silicified and often carry mineral values. Large bodies of low grade ore have been prospected near the surface. A sample of ore from the lower tunnel taken prior to 1931 assayed 25 ounces silver and $2.00 gold per ton (Shenon 1931).

With the inflated price of gold during the Great Depression, the Ermont district was in 1932, the scene of one of the last gold rushes in the U. S. About this same time the Ermont mine was sold to R. B. Caswell, J. R. Bowles and F. C. Gram. While most of the ground around the Ermont was staked out, the only value received by the speculative prospectors was when 33 of the claims were purchased by the the Ermont mine. The Ermont properties resumed limited production from 1932 until 1936.

In 1936 the Caswell, Bowles, Gram partnership was succeeded by Ermont Mines, Inc. When a 100-ton cyanide mill for the mine was erected, the one-mine district boomed. The mill obtained water from Rattlesnake Creek via a four mile pipe; electric power was obtained by extending the line to the Gold Leaf Mill in Bannock. The mill ran three shifts and employed 60 men. The monthly output for the mine and mill was reported to be $22,000. The mine continued to work until World War II brought a ban on gold mining. Limited production resumed from 1949-1950 and in 1963 (Geach 1972; Wolle 1963).

The mine developed a number of dolomitic ore bodies. The No. 1 ore body was worked from an open pit 175 feet long, 100 feet wide and up to 50 feet deep. The No. 2 ore body was mined by a 600 foot long inclined shaft. A fracture-zone ore body on the east side of an andesite sill near the contact with the dolomite was 3,200 feet northeast of the open pit. This deposit was worked from five levels, 100 feet apart on the No. 19 shaft (Geach 1972).

The Ermont mine was reported to be in production from 1934 - 1940 excluding 1936 when the mill was built and again from 1949 to 1950 and in 1963. During these years of production the mine is credited with 189,649 tons of ore which returned an amazing 41,255 ounces of gold, 6,999 ounces of silver, and 4,789 pounds of copper (WPA 1941).

Yellowbird

The Yellowbird unpatented mine, located in the NE1/4 of section 35, T6S, R11W, is also known as the West Ermont. D. V. Erwin shipped some ore from the property in 1926 and in 1936. The property has several prospect pits and a 55 foot deep incline shaft. The mine produced a total of 62 tons of ore which yielded 4 ounces of gold, 804 ounces of silver, 45 pounds of copper and 4,233 pounds of lead in its two years of production.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Anonymous

1940 "Ermont - A New Camp in the Oldest Mining Region in Montana",

Mining World

, Vol. 2, No. 11, pp. 17-22.

Earle, B. J.

1981 "Ermont Mining District (24BE213)", Bureau of Land Management, Antiquities Site Inventory form

Geach, R. D.

1972 "Mines and Mineral Deposits (except fuels) Beaverhead County, Montana",

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Bulletin 85

.

Sahinen, Uuno M.

1934 "The Badger Pass Mining District, Beaverhead County, Montana",

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology

, Misc. Contr 6.

Sassman, Oren

1941 "Metal Mining in Historic Beaverhead County (1862-1940)", Thesis Montana State University.

Shenon, Philip John

1936 "Geology and Ore Deposits of Bannack and Argenta, Montana",

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology

, Bulletin 6.

Trauerian, Carl J.

1939 "Mining in Montana Exclusive of Butte",

Seven Talks About Mines

, pp. 31-41, Butte Chamber of Commerce.

Wolle, Muriel Sibell

1963

Montana Pay Dirt.

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.