Charles D. McLure is well known in Granite County lore for the wealth of Granite Mountain, which he acquired title to on October 18, 1880. Earlier articles told of Estill, Holland and Merrell, being the locators of the Granite Mountain lode claims in 1875. The claims were originally located in 1872 then were allowed to lapse. They were thought to be “good prospects” but due to their location the claims had very little work done on them prior to late 1880, when McLure assayed a specimen and gave a power of attorney to Charles Clark to find investors. These investors, (many from the Hope directorate where Charles was the Superintendent) came mostly from St. Louis and included Clark, Louis Duestrow, August B. Ewing, Oliver B. Filley, Samuel Gaty, Edwin Harrison, Jesse, L. January, John H. Lionberger, Lewis M. Rumsey, Moses Rumsey, Augustus F. Sharpleigh and Charles Taussig, with McLure retaining the largest interest of the syndicate.
Arthur L. Stone states “When the history of Montana is written there should be a long chapter given to the story of Charles D. McLure. He took many millions out of Montana ground. A large portion of the wealth went to make the famous St. Louis group millionaires. Mr. McLure retained some of it. A vast slice of it went back into the development of the State’s mining industry and there are many mills among the Montana Rockies which are monuments to the courage of this remarkable man, many hoists which are testimonials to his daring. When he was confident that there was ore to be found he never hesitated a minute to risk his all to find it. The harder he had to fight the better he fought. And it stands today that he was almost invariably right” (Following Old Trails).
Charles was born at Carrolton, Missouri February 22, 1844. He was raised in St. Louis, Missouri and at the age of sixteen left to join a freighting company that traveled from Nebraska to Denver. Three to five years later Charles arrived in Virginia City, Montana Territory (1863-1865). Charles discovered the White Cloud Mining claim in 1866 in the Bitter Root Valley and John Owen states in his Journal November 11, 1869: “Mr. McLure the discoverer of the Wht Cloud Lode retd today from a prospecting tour of some 7 Mos---Found nothing to warrant any further examination---has returned to his Lode on 8 Mile Crk.”
Sometime after this Charles decided he required more knowledge and returned to St. Louis to study geology and metallurgy. Charles was thirty-three when he returned to the Philipsburg area. Besides the Granite Mountain Syndicate he also formed the Bi-Metallic Mining company in 1882 with eighty percent of the stockholders of the Granite Mountain Company. The Bi-Metallic was originally located on an extension of the Granite Mountain lode named the James G. Blaine claim, acquired by Charles for $1,200. Granite Mountain was offered the claim but turned Charles down. In 1888 the Bi-Metallic Company built a 50 stamp mill and mining office on Douglas Creek. Later another 50 stamps were added.
According to news articles, Charles was involved in mining the Harvey Creek District (Hidden Treasure); the Henderson Creek District (Combination, Healy Brothers, and Sunrise), Bunker Hill, and Gold Hill (Lost Cabin Claim at Princeton); Rock Creek District (Basin Gulch); West Fork Sapphire Mines; Cadel Properties at Moose Lake on Middle Fork; and Smith and Kent Mines on Ross’ Fork.
Also, according to the Butte Daily Bulletin March 18, 1919 his estate included one hundred fifty thousand shares of the capital stock of the Cascade Silver Mines and Mills, near Great Falls. Plus he re-opened the Moulton Mine in Neihart in 1896.
More than once Charles was low on money with one of the most noteable instances being the Merchant and Miners Bank trying to recover $5,000 on a promissory note the bank allowed McLure to pay labor claims in September 1896. When the sheriff received the complaint “he made a hasty trip to Drummond to get service of the summons upon the defendant but instead of going the way of Drummond Mr. McLure went overland to Anaconda so the papers were not served” on him (The Mail.)
Charles married Clara Edgar at St Louis in November, 1883. Born to this marriage were Park, Edgar, William R., Marianna, Clara E., Charlotte and Charles II.
Charles moved to St. Louis after the Bi-Metallic closed, investing his money in several business ventures such as the Eads Bridge across the Missouri, at St. Louis and a financial disaster which was a street car system. In later years Charles returned to Missoula, where he died May 21, 1918. His funeral was at St. Andrew’s with burial at the Philipsburg Cemetery.
His descendants have continued to live in Granite County and contribute to the mining, business and political history.