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Barber Gulch - Placer Gold Claim - History Revisited

 

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Barber Gulch Placer Mining Claim
BLM No. MTMMC 221585
SE 1/4 Section 25, T16N, R28W, and the S 1/2 of N 1/2 and N1/2 of S 1/2 of PB 67
T16N, R27W
Mineral County, Montana
160 Acres

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Non-Patented  

Cedar Creek Mining District

Historical records note, "The gold recovered from the placers was considered to be exceptionally rich, ranging from $19.75 to $20.45 with a standard price of $20.67 per ounce. In 1875 it was reported that the various drifts were yielding as high as $300 to a set of timber, and that about $50,000 in gold was recovered each year from 1871 to 1873. The fineness was reported as ranging from .950 to .982 (Sahinen 1935; Lyden 1948).

Each of the creeks has several notable tributaries for which some information is available.

Oregon Gulch and Snowshoe Gulch have both been significant producers along Cedar Creek. In 1875, one company on Snowshoe Gulch grossed $9,200 in 10 weeks with nine men. The net profit for the owners was $4,600, with an additional two to three thousand dollars stolen from the sluices. Windfall Creek, a tributary of Trout Creek, is considered to be the largest producer of placer gold in the district. The "Miller Ground" claim on Windfall Creek was reported to have yielded gold valued at $150,000 by 1919. Tucker Gulch is an important tributary of Quartz Creek, although production along Quartz Creek probably did not exceed $100,000 (Lyden 1948)."

The initial rush on Cedar Creek, especially on Oregon Gulch was so great that a hundred miners staked out 200 claims within six months of the initial discoveries in 1869. Mining camps arose and were abandoned quickly as the focus of placering shifted around the district. The population of the district rose upwards of 10,000 by some estimates. In 1870, Forest City, on Cedar Creek itself, reached a population of 7,000 and was a wholesale commercial center for many towns in the area including Missoula. The success of the district prompted publication for three years of "The Missoula and Cedar Creek Pioneer" newspaper. The paper was then moved to Missoula and its name changed to the Missoulian (Smith 1899; Rowe 1911b; Lyden 1948; Wolle 1963).

The gold is recovered from stream and bench gravels located along the three creeks and their tributaries. The gold originates from veins associated with igneous dykes crosscutting the northward extension of the Bitterroots. Chalcopyrite is the principal ore material, and also carries copper and silver in small amounts (Sahinen 1935).

BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT

Sahinen (1935) locates the district as encompassing Cedar, Quartz and Trout Creeks and their tributaries, which originate near the crest of the northwestward extension of the Bitterroot Range. The creeks flow northeastward to the Clark Fork River.

HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES

Although Sahinen (1935) and Lyden (1948) both note that some lode mining has been conducted in the district, no mention of specific mines occurs in the literature. Lode mining appears to have been generally confined to the period between 1915 and 1919, inclusive. Lode production at this time is estimated at less than $500,000 and included copper, silver and gold (Sahinen 1935; Lyden 1948).

The Barber Gulch Claim is located approximately 25 miles from Superior, Montana in a pristine wilderness environment. Majestic beauty, abundant wildlife, and great gold; what more could one ask for?

There are enormous tailing piles, evidence from all the work done in the gulch by the early miners. Every season's snow and major melt over the past hundreds of years has carried rich new material into the canyon, creating the potential for rich streambed deposits. Massive boulders and extensive exposed bedrock in shallow water make the Barber Gulch Gold Placer Claim a dredger's dream.

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Gold is recovered from the stream bed and bench gravels located along the entire length of the claim. The gold originates from veins associated with igneous dikes that crosscut the northward extension of the Bitterroot Mountains. Chalcopyrite is the predominant ore material, quartz is plentiful. Copper and silver, in lesser amounts have also been found.
 
Oregon Gulch Historical Notes:
"Around the turn of the century, the Big Flat Mining Company began hydraulic mining of the Big Flat area of Oregon Gulch. Because no roads led into Big Flat, the company built a mining camp consisting of a bunkhouse, cookhouse, and office building to house its personnel. The Big Flat Company remained active through August 1910, when smoke from the great 1910 forest fires forced a temporary shutdown.Little work was done at Big Flat over the next three years, but in August 1914 the placer was reopened for an unknown period of time.
 
When mining again was suspended at Big Flat, the company reportedly employed A1 Wade (for whom Wade Peak is named) as a watchman at the camp until 1930.That year Montana Dredge & Engineering Company acquired the Big Flat claims. The firm's president and general manager, Guy L. Covington of Seattle, renovated the old camp and erected several new buildings closer to the creek. He also activated a small sawmill just upstream that may have been part of the earlier Big Flat operation.The lumber produced was used in construction of a flume and dam in 1931-1932.
 
The flume carried water from Missoula Gulch along the hill to the west of the present-day Big Flat road, supplying water for camp use and for hydraulic giants.  The sawmill also furnished lumber for building construction and the repair of a large flume on Oregon Gulch.In 1935, Covington (who had designed power excavation equipment used by many Northwest mines) installed a two-cubic-yard capacity Covington dry-land dredge at Big Flat and it was in operation by 1936. Covington also built the first road connecting Big Flat to the main Cedar Creek road. Sometime prior to 1931, Charlie Miller had extended the Cedar Creek road from LaCasse's camp as far as Miller Saddle. In 1931, Covington built the road from Miller's Saddle down into the Big Flat camp.  

Cedar Creek Mining District

Notes:

Barite chunks are scattered across the across Oregon Creek adjacent to mouth of Barber Gulch, with a seam visible. Dowsing readings are intriguing. 

  • Barite is a mineral composed of barium sulfate (BaSO4). It receives its name from the Greek word "barys" which means "heavy." This name is in response to barite's high specific gravity of 4.5, which is exceptional for a nonmetallic mineral.

The goal of the exploration planned in the Big Flat is to discover and develop a productive and profitable mine. In addition to determining the quantity, location, and value of pay gravels in the placer deposit. Initial exploration will provide valuable information regarding surface drainage patterns, stream flows, and bedrock depth.

  • Stream banks are firm and stable, composed of:
  • Sand - less than 1⁄4 inch Gravel - 1/4 inch to 3 inches
  • Small cobbles - 3 inches to 6 inches
  • Large Cobbles - 6 inches to 12 inches
  • Rocks - 12 inches to 24 inches
  • Boulders - greater than 24 inches Bank heights vary from 2-to-12 feet or more.

Bank vegetation includes native grasses, wildflowers, native brush, shrubs, and trees. Many of the northward-facing slopes have a thick stand of pines, firs, and other conifers, whereas the southward-facing slopes are commonly grass and brush covered and more sparsely timbered. Timber includes litter and understory with brush from two to five feet. The area contains subalpine fir and mixed conifer with significant standing dead and downed trees. depths and types of soils.

Historical Notes:

Childress notes, LNFHP; Mineral County Press August 27,1914; The Mining Journal October 15, 1933,14; April 15,1935, 21; May 15, 1936, 23; May 15,1937, 26.

 
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A Prospector's Paradise, the claim is suited for most types of gold mining activities from panning, sluicing, and high-banking to metal detecting, and dredging. For those miners seeking to run large volumes of yardage, there are several stream adjacent meadows condusive to the operation of heavy equipment. 
 
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Mineral County is located in the vast "big sky country" of Montana. The crest of the Bitterroot Mountains divides Montana from Idaho and serves as the county’s western boundary. The topography varies from remote, high alpine lakes to whitewater streams and from heavily forested ridges to smooth rolling meadows. 

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Oregon Creek Research Notes

A connected-bucket dredge was reported to have operated in the early 1900's. Historical records and physical evidence of placer, shaft, drift and limite lode mining mark the immediate area of the Oregon Gulch Project. The gold extracted was transported from Superior, a station on the Northern Pacific and the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroads (Rowe 1911; Sahinen 1935)

Historical Evidence Of Placer Activity – Barber Gulch Area (Barber Gulch and Southern Cross Claims)

There is no way to find out how many miners actually worked along the creek as all buildings burned in the fires and we have only these snippets from old publications to look to for information. Little physical evidence remains indicating there were ever this many men in camp. There is, however evidence of parts and pieces of old mining equipment, etc. but one has to assume that anything that did not burn was salvaged years ago.

References to the Kansas City Commercial Company are sparse throughout historical records. This mining company operated in the Big Flat. The notes found, indicate the Kansas City Commercial Company was actively mining the Big Flat until their dredge operations were consumed by the 1910 firestorm. No references can be found of their operations after that date.

The fire came over the mountains from Idaho and into Cedar Creek basin, the paper reported. It continued: "The fire is coming down Cedar gulch and is reinforced by a huge blaze from Oregon gulch. "The Cedar... fire has already destroyed the Amador mining property and the Kansas City Commercial company's dredging plant with the exception of the dredge itself. Two charred bodies were found on the summit by fire fighters returning to Iron Mountain from Oregon gulch. "If a heavy wind should arise in the direction of Iron Mountain, the fire from Cedar... may become... bad... It has reduced the Amador mine to a smoldering heap and consumed... the Big Flat Mining company's plant in Oregon gulch..."

W.S. Clifford and Joe Shinnick had passed through the firey Cedar area and shared their experiences with the newspaper: "They were members of a pack outfit which was composed of eight men and 27 horses. They went through Oregon gulch on their way into Idaho and at the summit met a courier who warned them back.

"The fires came quickly. Before the party could get out, the horses had been lost in the fire and the two boys cut off from their comrades. They don't know what became of the six men who were with them. Clifford and Shinnick got out through Oregon gulch into Cedar. There they stayed at the Kansas City Commercial company plant until they were routed out to help fight fire there.

"When the fire had passed, they came down the creek to Iron Mountain..."

In another article about the Cedar fire, the paper noted that "... the Amador and Kansas City companies used electric speeders (on the Amador track) as an avenue for escape... (others)

Big Flat Mining Company

Around the turn of the century, the Big Flat Mining Company began hydraulic mining of the Big Flat area of Oregon Creek. Because no roads led into Big Flat, the company built a mining camp consisting of a bunkhouse, cookhouse, and office building to house its personnel. The Big Flat Mining Company remained active through August 1910, when smoke from the great 1910 forest fires forced a temporary shutdown.

Little work was done at Big Flat over the next three years, but in August 1914 the placer was reopened for an unknown period of time. When mining again was suspended at Big Flat, the Company reportedly employed A1 Wade (for whom Wade Peak is named) as a watchman at the camp until 1930. That year Montana Dredge & Engineering Company acquired the Big Flat claims.

The firm's president and general manager, Guy L. Covington of Seattle, renovated the old camp and erected several new buildings closer to the creek. He also activated a small sawmill just upstream that may have been part of the earlier Big Flat operation.

The lumber produced was used in construction of a flume and dam in 1931-1932. The flume carried water from Missoula Gulch along the hill to the west of the present-day Big Flat road, supplying water for camp use and for hydraulic giants. The sawmill also furnished lumber for building construction and the repair of a large flume on Oregon Gulch.

In 1935, Covington (who had designed power excavation equipment used by many Northwest mines) installed a two-cubic-yard capacity Covington dry-land dredge at Big Flat and it was in operation by 1936. Covington also built the first road connecting Big Flat to the main Cedar Creek road.

LNFHP; Mineral County Press August 27,1914; The Mining Journal October 15, 1933,14; April 15,1935, 21; May 15,1936, 23; May 15,1937, 26.

Covington Mineral Assay Report from drill testing four holes in the Big Flat.

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Note dates: Four tests above were assayed in September 1933 - The four test holes below were drilled in December 1034. We continue to search historical archives for additional information. 

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Sometime prior to 1931, Charlie Miller had extended the Cedar Creek road from La Casse's camp as far as Miller Saddle. In 1931, Covington built the road from Miller's Saddle down into the Big Flat camp.

The Barber Gulch claim follows Oregon Creek and includes the mouth of Barber Creek.  

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In addition to the exciting outdoor adventure of gold mining, the Bitterroot Mountains of Mineral County provide many opportunities for fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, and photography. Within Mineral County there are 87 miles of river, 650 miles of streams, and over 50 high mountain lakes. In addition, there are over 400 miles of hiking trails and more than 1,000 miles of off-highway roads. 

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160 Acres 

 
Access is available from mid-June to mid-October and provides an excellent opportunity for the recreational panner or seasoned miner. The Barber Gulch Placer Claim is part of a claim block slated for commercial gold exploration and production.
 
Gold is present at a grade sufficient to have a strong effect on the economics of an excavation project. The package is available for sale/lease or joint-venture. 
 
Sale Price: $137,700.00
For more information please contact:

Marlene Affeld
509-389-2606

Disclaimer: This locality information is for reference purposes only. Please do not attempt to visit any sites listed without first ensuring that you have the permission of the land and/or mineral rights holders for access and that you are aware of all safety precautions necessary. 

 

Mineralcomt

Food For Thought -

Unlocking Value in Montana’s Historic Mining Camps

The old adage “the best place to find a new mine is in the shadow of an old mine” is more than just a quaint saying. The phrase, well known to many in the world of resource exploration, is actually based on scientific principles that have led to recent significant discoveries.

Today, hitting pay dirt by using only surface exploration techniques is becoming a much harder and costlier prospect for junior explorers, even those in possession of development-stage projects with advanced exploration potential. Instead, forward-thinking geological teams are setting their sights on historic mining camps in the hopes that where there was once fire, the potential for another spark remains.

Blue Sky Country: Modern exploration techniques unlock potential value

“Exploration for new mineral deposits using surface techniques has resulted in fewer discoveries because most of the easy-to-find, near-surface deposits have been found,” explains Stanley Korzeb, economic geologist for the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology (MBMG), and a research professor at Montana Tech. “Future mineral exploration is now focusing on deep deposits that have no surface expression, but are related to ore deposits exploited by past mining efforts. Most historic mines were developed on epithermal vein systems, and geologic studies have shown a relationship between epithermal vein systems and porphyry systems.”

Korzeb says that based on these studies, historic mining districts are being reexamined for deep mineral resources using advanced deep-drilling techniques and new geophysical techniques, such as short-wave infrared spectroscopy, lithogeochemical analysis and isotope geochemistry.

In the state of Montana, where Korzeb’s research is focused, some mining districts have not been studied since the 1930s, while others were last explored more recently in the 1980s.

Through his research work at the MBMG, Korzeb is currently focused on the reexamination of historic mining districts for potential exploration targets. To understand the future exploration potential and genesis of mineral resources in historic mining districts, he is using the latest methods for fluid inclusion, lithogeochemistry, isotope geochemistry, age dating and mineralogical techniques, in conjunction with geologic data generated by past mining and exploration efforts.

In essence, Korzeb’s work is proving the scientific basis behind the maxim that “the best place to find a new mine is in the shadow of an old mine.” If you can locate the metal and fluid source that developed the mineral resources exploited by past mining efforts, you may discover a deep porphyry system or another type of deposit with future mining potential."

Sale Price: $137,500.00

For further information contact: Marlene Affeld - 509-389-2606 or email to: marneaffeld@mac.com

 

 


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