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HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Bannack holds a number of firsts in Montana history. It was the site of the first major gold discovery in the Montana Territory; it was the first territorial capital; it was the first county seat of Beaverhead County; it saw the first lode mining in Montana Territory and it was the location of the first successful dredging operation in the United States. Mining began in 1862 and continues sporadically on a minor scale today. The main periods of mining in the Bannack area were the early placer, hydraulic and lode activity (1862 to 1875) and the dredging of Grasshopper Creek (1895 to 1902).

The mining district is located at the southern end of the Pioneer Mountain Range. The placer workings and adjacent lode claims run for about five miles on both sides of Grasshopper Creek in an area that includes the town of Bannack (Figure 1). Most of the lode mines were concentrated in the area just a mile below Bannack. The creek runs through a narrow canyon with hills rising steeply on both sides of the creek. The hills are, for the most part, barren of trees although the upper ridges have forested areas. The general terrain throughout the area is rugged and mountainous with numerous eroded gulches and drainages. The elevation of the area ranges from 5800 ft along the creek bottom to over 7000 ft on the mountain peaks.

The geology of the Bannack district is described by Winchell (1914) as consisting of Paleozoic limestone intruded by a small stock of granodiorite. Immediately above this limestone layer are a few remnants of the Quadrant quartzite. The principal granodiorite intrusion is nearly circular and is on the south side of Grasshopper Creek south of the town of Bannack. A minor granodiorite intrusion is found on the north side of the creek just west of Bannack. Tertiary deposits, west of Bannack, extend over the surface for a number of miles both to the north and south. The ores found in the Bannack mining district are usually found in contact deposits but some minor ore bodies are in fissures. The ores have been valuable almost solely for their gold content, but they also contain some silver, lead and copper. The ore bodies are generally found along the contact between limestone and granodiorite, or in stringers or small fissures. Large amounts of garnet, with some epidote, are also found along the contact.

The First Gold Rush

Fifty-six years before the Bannack gold rush, Grasshopper Creek was traversed by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Lewis and Clark had split up near the mouth of Lolo Creek and Lewis headed north while Clark descended the east fork of the Bitterroot River, crossed the divide at Gibbon Pass on July 6, 1806 and headed south along a route currently followed by the road from Wisdom to Jackson. The party then traveled down Grasshopper Creek (which they named "Willard's Creek"). They skirted just west of the future Bannack townsite until they reached Horse Prairie Creek. Clark and his men turned east down Horse Prairie Creek to Two Forks [now under the waters of the Clark Canyon Reservoir] where they retrieved a cache and canoes they had left there the year before. From Two Forks they floated down the Beaverhead and Jefferson rivers and out of the region leaving no tangible evidence of their passage except for the account in their journals (Coues 1965).

The discovery of gold by James and Granville Stuart at Gold Creek on the Clark Fork River in 1858 marked the real beginning of historical development of the region. The Stuart's discovery was a modest one compared to those that would follow but it was enough to attract other prospectors and emigrants into the region. Some of the pioneers heading for the Oregon Territory or California detoured to Montana Territory to try their luck as gold prospectors. Other prospectors.

and miners left the played-out and over-populated gold fields in California, Idaho and Colorado and headed for the Montana Territory which was one of the last regions that had not been extensively explored by prospectors. The territory was primed for a major gold rush which was not long in coming (Sassman 1941; Scarborough 1974).

In the summer of 1862 a party of Colorado men, led by Judge Mortimer H. Lott, made a small strike around July 10th near the head of the Big Hole River. There was a short-lived rush to the area but the strike did not amount to much and one party of Colorado men decided to head back to Deer Lodge. While on their way they stopped to pan the small creek Lewis and Clark had named Willard Creek. On July 28, 1862, John White and William Eades found colors and within a short time they realized they had made a major strike. Since they were unaware that Lewis and Clark had already named the creek, they called it Grasshopper Creek because of the profusion of the insects along the banks. A mining camp quickly sprang up and was named Bannack after the local Indian tribe. By the time winter set in, the rough sprawling camp of Bannack had grown to some 400 persons (Cushman 1973).

The Placer Mining Era

Bannack's placer mining period was brief, violent, rich in gold and the source of an equally rich lode of historical legends. More than a ton of gold was taken from the Grasshopper diggings during the first season. Not only were the placer bars easily worked and incredibly rich, they produced some of the purest gold found anywhere in the world. On the average, Bannack gold assayed at 990 fine (99% pure) and in a few cases it went as high as 999 fine - essentially a chemically pure state (Cushman 1973).

By the summer of 1863 the camp had a population of from 3000 to 5000 miners, merchants, gamblers, saloon keepers, prostitutes and outlaws. When the Territory of Montana was established on May 26, 1864, Bannack became the first territorial capital [in 1869 it became the first county seat of Beaverhead County]. During most of 1863, however, there was little in the way of government authority or law enforcement. The sheriff was the notorious Henry Plummer who used his office to cover his leadership of an outlaw gang that systematically robbed and murdered miners and travelers for their gold. His career as an outlaw was cut short by vigilantes on Sunday morning, January 10, 1864, when he was hung from the same gallows he had ordered built to hang a horse thief. Soon after, the remainder of the gang met a similar fate or else were banished and at least a semblance of law and order settled on Bannack (Wolle 1963; Cushman 1973).

By this point Bannack was already starting to decline. New strikes at Alder Gulch in 1863 and Last Chance Gulch in 1864 drained off a large part of Bannack's population. Miners were having problems getting enough water to work the placer deposits while others felt the main placer bars had been worked out -- although it has been estimated that by this point only about seven percent of the area's gold had been taken (Cushman 1973). Bannack's period as a territorial capital was also brief. By the time the first legislature convened in December of 1864, the population center had shifted to the Alder Gulch area and the lawmakers voted to move the capital to Virginia City. However, Bannack continued to produce gold through a variety of mining technologies.

The chronic water shortage for the Grasshopper Creek diggings was partially met by a series of water ditches which were constructed by various companies formed for that purpose. Henry Morley and Jule Pitcher completed the first ditch in May of 1863 while, later that year, the Bannack Mining and Ditch Company built a 15-mile long ditch on the south side of Grasshopper Creek at a cost of $15,000. The north side diggings were supplied with water two years later by a ditch built by M. J. Mandeville, M. J. McDonald and James Doty. The water problem, however, was never adequately solved. Although the ditches did bring a sufficient supply of water to the diggings, the cost of 75 cents a day per miner's inch was too expensive for many of the miners to afford (Wolle 1963).

When hydraulic mining methods were introduced in the late 1860s, even more water was needed. The Bannack Mining and Ditch Company built a 30-mile long ditch in 1867 from Coyote and Painter creeks which carried 1000 inches of water to the bars south and west of Bannack. Later this water would be used to operate six "Little Giants" in hydraulic operations in Buffalo and Humbug gulches. By 1870 three other ditches were constructed which enabled miners to profitably rework much of the abandoned placer ground. By the mid-1870s most of the placer mining operations along the Grasshopper had ended and the population of Bannack had dwindled to just a few hundred persons. Sporadic mining continued around Bannack through either lode or hydraulic operations. One of the more successful efforts during this period was undertaken by the Bon Accord Placer Mining Company in the summer of 1885 with a hydraulic operation a couple of miles down stream from Bannack (Wolle 1963).

The Development of Lode Mining and Dredging Operations

Lode mines were part of Bannack's mining operations from the beginning since gold-bearing quartz lodes were found in the hills almost immediately after the town was settled. James Fergus located one of the first important lode claims in November of 1862. The Dakota Claim was also located at this time and was the first quartz lode to be mined anywhere in the Montana Territory. A six-stamp mill was built by two blacksmiths out of discarded freight wagon parts during the winter of 1862-1863. This crude water-driven mill proved to be highly successful and stamped out $1500 worth of gold a week from ore mined at the Dakota. A 24-stamp mill was built the next year and three more mills would be constructed during the next five years making it possible to treat lode ore for as little as four dollars per ton. Ore from the Dakota and Cherokee lodes was reported to have returned $100,000 during the 1869 season (Bassett and Magee 1869; Sassman 1941; Wolle 1963).

On the west side of Grasshopper Creek, downstream from Bannack, the first lode mining occurred in the 1860s when Wilson Wadams (or Wadham) was reported to have taken out $200,000 worth of ore from a 75-foot shaft on the Wadams claim. In 1875, Philip Shenon acquired the claim and drove a tunnel in 1884 to tap both the Golden Leaf and Bannack lodes. In 1885 Shenon built a mill on the banks of Grasshopper Creek (on the site of the future Golden Leaf mill) to process the ore. Shenon then sold his holdings in 1890 which included the Wadams, Wallace, Golden Leaf, French, and Excelsior plus other small mines and a mill to the Golden Leaf Mining Company, Ltd. The English company employed 50 to 60 men, built the Golden Leaf mill for more than $50,000, and worked the Golden Leaf placer ground. During the early 1890s, the company employed about 50 to 60 men, ran their own store, and electrified the mill and mine workings. However, from this point on, the fortunes of the mines on the west side of Grasshopper Creek declined and, except for a few brief period of production, were never again major operations (Swallow and Trevarthen 1890; Hogan and Oliver 1892; Sassman 1941; Wolle 1963; Geach 1972).

In 1895 the first successful gold dredging operation in the United States was put into operation along Grasshopper Creek. The Fielding L. Graves dredge was built and first tried the year before but was found to be an unsatisfactory design. It was rebuilt and run profitably until 1902. The connected-bucket dredge was electric powered from a generator on the creek bank. It cost a total of $35,000 to build and had a capacity of 2000 yards of gravel per day. The dredge averaged from $800 to $7000 per cleanup and at one point when it was working some of the richest ground it had cleanups of $22,000 and $38,000 (Lyden 1948; Wolle 1963).

Following the success of the Fielding L. Graves, four more boats were built. The Molly A. Gibson was launched in the fall of 1895 and worked the area north of the Excelsior mine. The A. F. Graeter was launched in May of 1896 and recovered about $200,000 in the first year of operation. The fourth boat was built by the Bon Accord Company in 1898 but capsized shortly after it was launched. A fifth boat was built in the summer of 1898 by the Montana Gold Dredging Company and worked the area near Spring Gulch until 1902. Although the Fielding L. Graves operated economically and efficiently on electric power, the four subsequent boats were all steam powered. It was not until several years later that another electric powered dredge was built at Alder Gulch by the Conrey Placer Mining Company (Shenon 1931; Lyden 1948; Wolle 1963).

By 1902 the dredges had depleted the auriferous deposits along Grasshopper Creek and Bannack's brief gold mining revival was over. From this point on, most of the mining activities at Bannack centered around intermittent attempts to work older lode mines such as the Wallace, Golden Leaf, French, Wadams and Excelsior lode mines located to the southeast of Bannack. Most of these operations met with only modest success. The Excelsior Lode mine, for instance, from the time it was recorded in May of 1872 to 1900 produced a respectable total of approximately $300,000 in gold but it would hardly rank as a major bonanza mine.

Another older mine that has been worked sporadically during recent times is the Hendricks Lode mine, located just across Grasshopper Creek south of Bannack. The land on which the mine and mill are located was first patented to Augustus Graeter as a mining claim on May 18, 1909. In 1918, C. W. Stallings leased the mine and was reported to have developed "...a fair quantity of $10 ore and may erect a five-stamp mill" (Mining and Science Press 1918:350). In 1920 Stallings built a new 10-stamp mill that operated for about a year. In 1933 it was reopened and electrified. The operation was apparently on a fairly small scale since the Mining Journal for January 30, 1934, notes that only ten men were employed at the Hendricks operation. Although it continued operation it had a variety of owners and operators and in 1940 the 50-ton cyanide mill treated 3,975 tons of ore from the Henricks and Suffield claims. Stallings estimated the total production for the mill amounted to $40,000 (Minerals Yearbook 1940; Sassman 1941). Total recorded production for the Hendricks mine is 23,594 tons of ore, which yielded 5,299 ounces of gold, 4,979 ounces of silver, 296 pounds of copper and 251 pounds of lead (Geach 1972; Brown 1983).

Bannack's place in the history of gold mining is secure as it is ranked as one of Montana's most colorful and productive historic gold mining camps. Although records as to total production figures are either non-existent or unreliable, it has been estimated that the Bannack mining district has produced approximately $12,000,000 in gold from 1862 until 1930 (with gold priced at $20.67 per ounce). The placer operations alone during the period from 1862 to 1876 produced an estimated $3,000,000 worth of extraordinarily pure gold (Shenon 1931; Sassman 1941).

Following World War II, the town of Bannack had become a deteriorating ghost town with only one resident remaining in the town by 1953 when the I. B. Mining Company, which owned most of the town, went bankrupt. The company sold its holdings to C. W. Stallings, the town's last resident, for $1400. Stallings, in turn, sold the town on August 15, 1954 for $1000 to a number of citizen groups which had been organized to preserve Bannack as a historic landmark because it is an excellent example of a historic frontier camp and mining town. Most buildings are of wood frame and log construction and are typical of the frontier boom town era. The Bannack State Park was established under the administration of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. During the 1960s the Department developed Bannack as a historic park. Structures were stabilized, non-historic intrusive elements and debris were removed and vandalism was curtailed (Wolle 1963; DeHaas and Heaney 1980; Chapin 1984). In 1962, during Bannack's centennial, the town was designated a national historic landmark by the National Park Service and the Bannack National Landmark District was officially included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The national landmark designation is indicative of Bannack's status as a historic site of national significance.

BOUNDARIES OF THE MINING DISTRICT

The historic Bannack mining district is, like many mining districts which were developed for placer operations, rather poorly defined in the historic literature. The first mining in the Bannack area focused on the rich placer deposits along the banks of Grasshopper Creek. Lyden (1948) shows the Bannack mining district as a narrow strip running along Grasshopper Creek from Bannack to a point about two or three miles from the confluence with the Beaverhead River. This placer mining district extended roughly a quarter of a mile on each side of the creek and included both the stream bottom gravels and the gold-bearing terrace gravels lying about 100 feet above the present creek bed.

This definition of the Bannack mining district probably is close to how the first placer miners saw the district when they initially organized the placer workings. These first districts apparently were rather casually defined as the general area of a prominent placer working. The first placer district appears to have been the Whites Bar Placer in Section 16 where the first discovery had been made by John White and William Eades in 1862. As the placer workings developed, additional districts were added as needed. An example of this process can be seen in the minutes of a miners' meeting held in White's district on April 28, 1864. The meeting passed a motion that White's district should include White's Bar and this would mark the northern boundary of a new district, called the Saratoga district, which would be established just downstream. The meeting then elected a president and recorder for the district and passed additional motions defining what types of claims could be held, their size, and the requirements to hold the claims. The district officers were authorized to collect a fee of one dollar for each claim recorded (Sassman 1941). The basic function of the mining districts can be seen as almost solely one of regulating, defining and recording mining claims. These early placer districts were probably kept small in a deliberate attempt to keep the job of recording claims a manageable one for the officers who often were miners themselves with little inclination to spend a great deal of time recording claims and keeping records.

When underground lode mining expanded in the canyon downstream from Bannack after the initial placer rush, a more general Bannack mining district emerged which encompassed the entire area of mining activity in the vicinity of Bannack. Although the early, localized districts were still used occasionally into the 1870s to note the location of a claim, such as the Excelsior Lode which was still described as being in the Independent mining district on the 1874 plat of the claim (GLO records, MS 234), by the mid-1870s almost all claims were described as being in the Bannack mining district. Many of the plats, however, note that the district was unorganized. There is no record of any official attempt to establish district boundaries and the district was never a legal entity. Since there were no other major mining districts in the immediate area where overlapping boundaries would be a problem, there was no great incentive to delineate the boundaries of the Bannack mining district which, apparently, was generally accepted as encompassing the area of mining activity in the vicinity of Bannack and on both sides of Grasshopper Creek for some four to five miles downstream.

Although the Bannack district boundaries were never definitely drawn, a datum point for the district was established. The plat for the Washington Lode claim (Mineral Survey Records # 684), surveyed in 1879, shows a point near the center of the claim which is described as the "Initial Point Bannack District" (GLO records, MS 684, Washington Lode Claim). The point would serve as a convenient locus from which other claims could be located at a time when the district had not been completely surveyed.

Later geological reports on the district also failed to delineate the district with any precision. Most general mining reports which describe the Bannack district, such as Krohn and Weist (1977), Trauerman and Reyner (1950), Dingman (1932), and Sassman (1941) do not define the Bannack district but only note its location at Bannack. For example, Alexander N. Winchell, in his 1914 report on the mining districts of the Dillon Quadrangle, simply described the Bannack district as: "...on Grasshopper Creek about 20 miles west and a little south of Dillon". Philip J. Shenon, in his 1931 report on the Bannack and Argenta districts, and R. D. Geach in his 1972 report on Beaverhead County both show other versions of the Bannack district. All include a core area with the surrounding area varying from author to author. Figure 1 is a map showing the district boundaries which includes the primary lode claims and the placer workings and claims along the lower section of Grasshopper Creek.

HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINE AND MILL SITES

The following is a brief historical discussion for selected mine and mill sites and placer operations in the Bannack mining district. Most of the mines described below were originally placer claims located in the early mining years. These were developed and some subject to extensive hydraulicking and later dredging. However, there were a few lode operations which were relatively successful, some continuing operations off and on until recently, taking advantage of new mining technology and metallurgical processes.

Bon Accord Placer Mine

The site area of the Bon Accord placers, about a half mile stretch of disturbed gravels, was first worked during the initial Bannack gold rush by placer miners who staked claims on the placer grounds along Grasshopper Creek from the town of Bannack down through the canyon to the mouth of Spring Gulch. A small community named Jerusalem sprang up in the vicinity of White's Bar and Spring Gulch. The early miners, however, lacked the equipment and capital needed to work the 35-foot gravels down to bedrock and, following the initial rush, little further mining occurred in the area for the next two decades (Sassman 1941; Wolle 1963).

The first large-scale mining of the Bon Accord placers began in 1885 when the Bon Accord Mining Company was organized to work the placer gravels down to bedrock by hydraulic means. A patent for the Bon Accord Placer claim was granted to Thomas Lancey and others on September 4, 1888 (Mineral Survey #708; Pat. #14270). The Canyon Ditch, which tapped the waters of Grasshopper Creek, was built at a cost of $7000 to provide water to the diggings. The company also built 500 feet of flume and tunneled the ground 35 feet below the surface to bedrock during the winter months. A Leffel waterwheel was used to drive the pumps which were used to keep the tunnels dry but it remained difficult and dangerous work. By 1892, 28 men worked for the company but results were not adequate the keep the operation going, although some additional work was done during the summer of 1895 (Sassman 1941; Wolle 1963; GLO records).

The area was worked again when the A. F. Graeter, the third dredge built in the Bannack area, dug its way upstream through the site area in 1897. The A. F. Graeter recovered $200,000 in gold until it was shut down and dismantled in 1902. In 1898, the Bon Accord Company built a fourth boat but the dredge was badly designed and sank a few days after it was launched. The company managed to raise the boat and remodel it, but the expense led to the company's bankruptcy and little ground was every worked by the ill-fated dredge (Wolle 1963).

Little further work was done on the property until the late 1930s when Ralph E. Davis of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, leased it from Hans Anderson and the Frank Hazelbaker estate. Davis thoroughly tested the ground and development work began in May 1938. All of Grasshopper Creek was diverted to a ditch on the north bank of the creek so that a Bucyrus-Montigan dragline with a five-yard bucket was able to remove the alluvial wash from the bedrock of the creek channel. The electric-powered dragline operated 24-hours a day and removed 1,125,000 cubic yards of gravel during 1939. A second, smaller dragline fed a pit washer at the bottom of the excavation which recovered nearly 2000 ounces of gold (Sassman 1941).

The turn of the century dredging operations and more recent 1930s mining activities totally eradicated any evidence of the small community of Jerusalem or of the historic placer mining operation.

Gold Bug Mines and Blue Grass Mines

The Blue Grass and Gold Bug claims (Mineral Survey #683 and #5038) cover the site of the Dakota lode where the first underground quartz mine in the Montana Territory was located, just a few months after the initial discovery of placer gold in Grasshopper Creek. Charles Benson, H. Porter, E. Porter and C. W. Place recorded the Dakota mine on November 12, 1862 and were able to mine small amounts of ore during the winter of 1862 to 1863. Initially, the men pounded the ore by hand in stone mortars in their cabins but, such was the richness of the ore, they were still able to make from 10 to 20 dollars a day. Later that winter a primitive six-stamp mill was built in a Bannack blacksmith shop, placed on Grasshopper Creek below the mine and driven by a water wheel. This simple, hand-built mill was able to produce $1500 worth of gold a week from ore taken from the Dakota (Winchell 1914; Sassman 1941; Wolle 1963; BLM GLO records).

Spurred on by this success, a 24-stamp mill was brought from St. Louis the following year by Fred Butterfield and Dr. Walter C. Hopkins and put up above Bannack in 1864 at a cost of $25,000. Only 12 stamps were installed in the steam-powered mill which recovered only about 25 percent of the gold from the ore. The mill was built to treat ore from the Dakota No. 6 which Butterfield and Hopkins had purchased from Andrew Murray. By 1868 the mine's main shaft had reached a depth of 300 feet. During that year, 1200 tons of ore were mined which yielded $18 a ton in gold. The Dakota # 6 was the most productive of the early claims. It's main shaft was 310 feet deep with a 345-foot long tunnel and 135-foot deep winze while the Dakota No. 8 had two 80-foot deep shafts. At one point, one of the shafts broke into a 20-foot deep cave that extended the length of the claim and had a floor covered with quartz containing free gold (Winchell 1914; Sassman 1941; Wolle 1963; Geach 1972).

After the rich ore near the surface had been mined, it became unprofitable to go deeper into the lode using only horse-powered whims to hoist ore from the mine although a few lessees did some small-scale mining of the property. In 1882 a small amount of ore was taken from the mine by F. L. Graves, Phil Shenon and others who had acquired the claims. A patent was granted to Philip Shenon and Fielding L. Graves on December 15, 1882 for the Blue Grass Lode claim (Pat. #6813) while the Gold Bug Lode claim (Pat. #28390) was acquired by Fielding L. Graves and others on July 10, 1897.

In 1925 Austin Hale mined a small amount of ore which produced $30 in gold per ton. In 1927 some additional development work was done on the property by C. W. Stallings. Little further work was done on the claims until the 1930s when the Blue Grass and Gold Bug mines were opened on the site of the old Dakota mine by the Thompson Gold Milling Company. A third mine, the Look Out, was located a short distance below the Blue Grass and Gold Bug. The Gold Bug claim covered the original Dakota discovery claim while all the original 12 Dakota claims were incorporate into both the Gold Bug and Blue Grass claims. This was due to the fact that under the 1862 rules, a claim could could only be 100 feet long. Later claims were allowed to be much larger, thus two modern claims were able to cover the same area as 12 of the 1862 claims (Shenon 1931; Sassman 1941; Geach 1972).

The Thompson company drove an adit on the Pioneer claim in an attempt to find the downward extension of the Blue Grass and Gold Bug ore bodies but the attempt failed to find any ore. Owner Tom McDonald reported in 1935 that the mine had 400 feet of adits, employed six men and that the "last car shipped netted $30". The last production from the mine occurred in 1941. Recently the Blue Grass has been owned by the Bannack Gold Mining and Milling Company while the Gold Bug has been owned by the Bannack Gold Mining and Milling Company the Graves estate of Bannack and then by Harry Graves of Dillon. Total production from the properties has been estimated at anywhere from $60,000 to $550,000 (Gilbert 1935:3; Sassman 1941; Krohn and Weist 1977).

Nothing remains of the surface facilities of the original historic Dakota mine and other than the mine openings and waste dumps, nothing remains of the more recent operations on the property .

Golden Leaf Mine Complex

The site consists of the remnants of the Golden Leaf group of mines which included the Golden Leaf, Priscilla, Hillside Placer, Wadams, Wallace, French, and Excelsior mines. These mines have been juxtaposed through much of their history, either through ownership or through the actual physical connection of many of the underground workings. Those underground workings were ultimately integrated through an extensive network of more than 18,000 feet of drifts, winzes and raises which connected a series of various ore-bearing levels of the Dunn, Priscilla, Golden Leaf, and Thompson lodes.

Early placer and hydraulic mining was conducted at the northern end of the site area on the old Senator claim (Mineral Survey #6013) and the unpatented Zuelander Lode (Mineral Survey #3847). The Zuelander claim was held by William Tate Taylor and others in April, 1892 while a patent was granted to Augustus E. Graeter on November 20, 1905 for the Senator claim. At that point, only $725 had been spent on two shafts on the Senator claim and $853.50 on shafts at the Zuelander claim. No other historical records were available on operations in this area.

The first lode mining occurred in the 1860s when Wilson Wadams (or Wadham) was reported to have taken out $200,000 worth of ore from a 75-foot shaft on the Wadams claim. In 1875, Philip Shenon acquired the claim. Shenon drove a tunnel in 1884 to tap both the Golden Leaf and Bannack lodes. In 1885 Shenon built a mill on the banks of Grasshopper Creek (on the site of the future Golden Leaf mill) to process the ore. Shenon then sold his holdings in 1890 which included the Wadams, Wallace, Golden Leaf, French, and Excelsior plus other small mines and a mill to the Golden Leaf Mining Company, Ltd. The English company employed 50 to 60 men, built the Golden Leaf mill for more than $50,000, and worked the Golden Leaf placer ground. During the early 1890s, the company employed about 50 to 60 men, ran their own store, and electrified the mill and mine workings (Swallow and Trevarthen 1890; Hogan and Oliver 1892; Sassman 1941; Wolle 1963; Geach 1972).

In 1894, the Golden Leaf Mining Company was bought out by the Western Enterprise Mining Company. The new owners only worked the placer ground and then leased the property in 1896 to R. Curin and H. F. Edwards who intended to dredge the stream bottom areas. During this period the most productive mine in the area was the Excelsior, first located on May 10, 1872 by W. L. Farlin and Phil Shenon. Shenon bought out Farlin for $250 and developed the property during the 1880s. In 1884 Shenon planned the Shenon tunnel which would have connected the Golden Leaf and Bannack lodes but sometime around 1890, before the tunnel was driven, Shenon sold the mine to H. B. Meade. Ore from the mine was too complex for the mills in Bannack but regular shipments of ore were made to Butte for treatment during the 1890s. During this period, the Excelsior was estimated to have produced some $300,000 in gold from 1400 feet of mine workings. The mine was again worked in 1902 and from 1917 to 1919 when it was run by the Western Mine Enterprise Company, the Original Bannack Mining Company, and the New York Montana Mines Company. During this latter period the property produced 660 tons of ore which yielded 520 ounces of gold, 1,428 ounces of silver and 27,536 pounds of copper. Except for the Excelsior, little work was done at the Golden Leaf and other properties in the area during the period around the turn of the century (Byrne and Hunter 1899; Bessette 1910; Sassman 1941; Wolle 1963; Geach 1972).

In 1910 the Bannack Gold Mining Company bought the Western Mines Enterprise Company's interests. The New York Montana Mines Company then bought the mines in 1915 and the next year constructed a 250-ton mill on Grasshopper Creek for $235,000 to process the ore. The mill was dependent for power on a hydro-electric plant on Grasshopper Creek which developed 250 horsepower. The venture failed when it was discovered that there was not enough water in the creek to operate the mill. It was not until 1929 that the I. B. Haviland Company again started operations on the property. They re-named the group of mines the "Sleeping Princess" and built a 24-mile long powerline from Dillon to Bannack and constructed a 100-ton cyanidation plant which operated for two years and, at its peak, was producing $32,000 a month in gold concentrates (Sassman 1941; Geach 1972).

In 1933 the Thompson Gold Milling Company leased the mines and milled ore for a few months during that same year. Later that year the lease was taken over by the Golden Messenger Corporation of Helena which processed some 6000 tons of gold ore before giving up the lease in 1939. Another 1120 tons of ore were mined from the Priscilla in 1940. No further work was done on the property until 1950 when the Signal Mining Company of Kellogg, Idaho optioned the mines and re-timbered the Golden Leaf shaft. The last reported production from the mine took place in 1955 when L. N. Eberline shipped 16 tons of ore from the Wadams claim which yielded three ounces of gold, 39 ounces of silver, 100 pounds of copper, 900 pounds of lead and 300 pounds of zinc. In 1963 the property was recorded under the ownership of the New York Montana Mines Company who had a lease/purchase agreement with Spokane National Mines, Inc. During that same year, the Grand Deposit Mining Company of Reno, Nevada, conducted exploration work at the Excelsior mine under an $80,000 contract from the Office of Minerals, but no ore was found. The last mining operation on the site occurred during the mid-1980s when Jerry Stacy of the General Mines Services Company of Spokane, re-opened the Priscilla adit for exploration work. However, no reported production resulted from the operation (Sassman 1941; Geach 1972).

The Golden Leaf group had a total combined production of an estimated at $2,577,000 but as with so many of the mines, little remains to attest to the years and efforts of the mines (Golden Leaf Prospectus 1939; Trauerman and Reyner 1949; Geach 1972). The remaining features consist of: a 30-ft wooden headframe from the 1917-1919 period of production, the collapsed remains of the hoist house with some of the hoisting machinery, stone retaining walls, a stone wall which may have once been part of a structure at the Excelsior; the ruins of the foundation for the Golden Leaf mill and a modern tram at the Priscilla; a concrete foundation, probably for hoisting machinery at the Golden Leaf, pieces of car rails and ties for the tramway at the Hillside Placer; a collapsed structure which may have been a shop or compressor building and the remains of an ore bin at the Wallace; and waste dumps, adits, shafts, prospect pits and various mine openings at these and the other mines in the group.

Hendricks (Apex) Mill and Mine

The Hendricks mine [also called the Graeter mine] was first located during the early gold rush in Bannack but little ore was produced until some 50 years later. The property included the Hendricks and Suffield claims. Although the Hendricks claim was surveyed in October, 1898, it was not patented until May 18, 1909 (Pat. #31067) to Augustus E. Graeter. The Suffield claim was not patented until much later when a patent was granted to Margaret C. Gibson (Pat. #42537) on August 5, 1924.

A small amount of ore was mined in 1917 and then in 1918 the property was acquired by the Bannack Mining and Milling Company, headed by C. W. Stallings. A five-stamp amalgamation mill was built, followed by a small ball-mill, classifier and two cyanide tanks which were added in 1919. Stallings built a new 10-stamp mill in 1920 that contained a ball mill, classifier, two agitators, four thickeners and six cyanide tanks which gave the mill a capacity of 50 tons a day. The mill operated for about a year and then shut down in 1921. At this point, the underground workings of the Hendricks mine included about 150-feet of drifts and one 50-foot winze (Shenon 1931; Sassman 1941).

E. L. Honska took a lease on the property in 1933 and 1934. He electrified the plant, employed ten men and reported a production of $40,000. The Chipaul Mining Company then took over the mine and mill for seven months in 1935. The following year Stallings regained control of the property under the Bannack-Apex Mining Company. In 1940 the mill went into production and treated 3,975 tons of ore from the Hendricks and Suffield claims that were leased from the Graeter-Park Realty Company of Dillon. The mill also handled custom ore from mines located north of Grasshopper Creek. Total production during this period was again reported to be about $40,000 (Shenon 1931; Gilbert 1935; Sassman 1941).

From 1944 to 1965, the mine produced no ore except in 1961, when six tons of ore were mined. In 1962 and 1963 the mill was rebuilt by the Spokane National Mines Company which operated it until 1965 and then intermittently until 1970 when the company went bankrupt. Ironically, the cyanide process the mill was designed to utilize was never used since the mill only processed silver ore from mines located north of Grasshopper Creek. Total recorded production for the Hendricks mine is 23,594 tons of ore, which yielded 5,299 ounces of gold, 4,979 ounces of silver, 296 pounds of copper and 251 pounds of lead (Geach 1972; Brown 1983).

The mill, still standing on the site, is a wood frame, tar paper-covered building. The interior of the mill has some of the machinery from the milling operation plus seven large wooden cyanide tanks which were apparently never used. Also at the site is the assay lab, the remains of a ball mill, a square, chambered floatation tank (northeast of the mill building), and the adit portal and tailings from the mill.

Washington Lode

The Washington Lode claim was patented by Philip Shenon and Augustus E. Graeter on October 7, 1879. When the claim was surveyed in October, 1879, there was a 8 x 50 foot and 20-foot deep discovery pit and two 40-foot long tunnels worth $1200. It does not appear that further significant development of the property occurred following the initial prospecting work. The Washington claim is a few hundred yards southeast of the Blue Grass Lode which was also patented by Philip Shenon in 1879. This suggests the Washington may have been a prospecting operation to further develop the Dakota, which was active at that time, or open a new mine on the Dakota ore body. The 1890 mine inspector's report mentioned the Washington as one of the mines in the Bannack area but did not say whether the mine was in operation or not. In his 1931 USGS report on the Bannack district, Shenon shows the location of the Washington mine on a map of the Bannack district, but does not say in the text whether the mine had been in operation. Shenon also shows the Pioneer mine at the same level a few hundred feet to the west of the Washington. No further record of either the Pioneer or Washington mines was available and it does not appear they ever developed beyond small prospecting operations (Swallow and Trevarthen 1890; Shenon 1931; GLO records).

SUMMARY

Although the preserved buildings and structures within the state park are relatively extensive, the mining landscape around Bannack is limited to adits, prospects, dredged creek bottoms, but few standing structures. Few cultural features remain at the Bannack mine sites. For instance, at the Bon Accord, the turn of the century dredging operations and more recent 1930s mining activities eradicated all traces of the small community of Jerusalem and the earlier placer mining operations. The exception is the Hendricks site which has a mill (a reconstruction of a 1920s era structure re-built in 1962-63), cyanide vats, equipment from a ball mill which burned in the 1970s, a small bullion shed and an assay building. Other remaining mining features include the headframe at the Excelsior and the remains of a dredge just outside of town. However, nothing remains of the surface facilities of the remainder of the district's major mines, including the historic Dakota mine and the extensive Golden Leaf Group.

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