Saturday, August 8, 2015

Placer mining panorama

God love this town
And swallow it down
And goodbye to you
(the fate of No Name City in Paint Your Wagon)

We are venturing a ways from Granite County today to post a very early panorama of a placer mine and town that we stumbled across reviewing the index of the Granville Stuart papers in the Tom Perry special collection of the Harold Lee library at BYU. In box 19 there is an item (No. 9) which was apparently identified by Mrs. Granville (Belle) Stuart as a photo of mining at Gold Creek and an unidentified mining town (which we presumed to be Pioneer) taken in 1868. However, when we received a scan of the photo we saw it could not be Pioneer. It rather seemed more like Bannack but careful examination of the photo shows a building with a "Weston House" sign which strongly indicates the panorama is of Diamond City. See especially the Helena Herald of May 20, 1869, for correspondence from Diamond City discussing the Weston House. We have been pointed in the direction of Diamond City by feedback from the Bannack Association as well.

The photographer is not named but we think it could be August Thrasher who was a pioneer photographer with a penchant for producing panoramas, and who was in Montana in the right time frame. He lived in Deer Lodge and was in Bannack during the 1870 census. We are interested to know if other copies of this photo exist. This scan is posted by permission from the Perry collection. Thanks!

Another photo of Diamond City was published in Volume 4 of the Proceedings of the Montana Historical Society in 1903 (below). In this photo, the perspective is similar to the Panorama above and the hills behind are an excellent  match. However, the town is located on the bench, well to the north of the town's location in the panorama, . The original Diamond City apparently suffered the fate of "No Name City" in "Paint Your Wagon" and was engulfed by mining, buried in the tailings seen below the mined bench in the photo below.

Diamond City's newspaper was the Rocky Mountain Husbandman, which contains several articles detailing visits by reporter to the Philipsburg area in the late 1870s and early 1880s - a gold mine of information on the town, people, and mines in that time frame.