Mineral County Montana Gold Production

Posted July 16, 2009 in Gold Mining


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Located in western Montana along the Idaho border, Mineral County was formed in 1914 by partition of Missoula County. All gold mined before 1914 from the area now included in Mineral County is credited to Missoula County. Almost the entire gold output came from placer deposits along the creeks that drain the east side of the Bitterroot Mountains and that flow into Clark Fork River between Tarkio and Superior. The most productive placers, and the only ones that produced more than 10,000 ounces of gold, were those along Cedar and Trout Creeks and their tributaries. Estimates by Lyden (1948, p. 98-103) suggest that placer production before 1904 may have exceeded 120,000 ounces. From 1904 through 1956 the county produced placer gold valued at about $665,000 (32,175 ounces), most of which was produced before 1942.

Lode gold production in Mineral County has been of relatively minor importance. The known lode deposits in the county are valuable chiefly for lead, zinc, silver, and copper; gold has probably been a byproduct (Wallace and Hosterman, 1956, p. 602-608).

Cedar and Trout Creeks, about 6 miles apart, are on the east slope of the Bitterroot Mountains, southwest of Superior. The placers of Cedar Creek were discovered in 1869; those along Trout Creek, in 1872. There was some placer mining along these creeks or their tributaries almost every year up to World War II (Lyden, 1948, "p. 100-102). From 1946 through 1959 operations were small scale and desultory. Estimates of early production along Cedar Creek and its tributaries ranged from $2 to $10 million in gold; Lyden (1948, p. 100) considered $2 million (96,758 ounces) to be more nearly correct. The early production of the Trout Creek placers is not known, but it was much smaller than that of Cedar Creek. The district produced about 20,000 ounces of gold from 1908 through 1959; its total production through 1959 was about 120,000 ounces.

The gold from this district was notably fine; some gold that was 982 fine was recovered and it was not unusual for it to be as high as 960 to 970 fine (Lyden, 1948, p. 102).

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Did You Know.......

A mine is a hole in the ground, owned by a liar.
-Mark Twain


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