Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Oro Y Plata and Winchell placer mines

The Oro Y Plata placer mine in the lower part of Henderson gulch has a complex history dating to the late 1860s, part of which is told in a 1911 court case over water rights and in an undated, unsigned report in the Frank Brown archive at UM. Thos. Smith is said to have started a ditch to wash the ground in November of 1868 and finished it the following  year. Ferguson bought the ground in about 1876 and sold it to Quong Lee 4 years later who then sold it again to Deer Lodge merchant Buck Jim  and You Hoy. The Chinese miners eventually sold it to Dominic Byrne, and subsequently was acquired by Philipsburg hardwaremen Gannon and Neu. It was at this stage (approximately 1905) that the Frank Brown archive report was written. In 1907, former Anaconda Co. President Scallon took a crack at the mine. Some of the Oro Y Plata ground was no doubt mined by the big Henderson bucket-line dredge during and after WWII.

The bench east of Sherryl crossing (between Maxville and Hall, on the Conn Ranch) has been extensively washed for gold. The gullied ground is now tree covered, apparently as a result of the mining. In Gold Placers of Montana (1949), Lyden suggests that the mined bench is an extension of the Henderson gulch placer deposit in an old channel now on the opposite side of Flint Creek. This is an eminently reasonable interpretation! The Antonioli brothers recently panned a sample of this bar and considerable scheelite, the tungsten mineral also present in the Henderson placer, appears in the pan concentrate.

This mine is sometimes locally called the Chinese diggings and it's history is a bit obscure. Part of the ground was initially developed by the experienced placer miner James Batterton and associates operating as the Deer Lodge Ditch and Mining Company in 1872 and 1873.  Batterton had been involved in Pioneer and Cable and had done well in both places. Apparently an even earlier mine on this bar had been developed by Winchell and Co (see 1873 link). Winchell's interest was sold in 1874 to John Wilson of Blackfoot. In 1875 it was said to be yielding $20 a day to the hand, an excellent result. Perhaps  the most appropriate name for these workings would be the Winchell mine.

Friday, August 12, 2016

In the Beginning

There has been very little researched information available about the early Native Americans in Granite County. This article will attempt to collect and discuss what is known about tribal history, anthropology, and archaeological documentation. Because the information is constantly changing with all the new DNA evidence and newly discovered artifacts, plus identification of the mineral compositions and sites, this article could easily be outdated by the time it is published. Fortunately because it is in a blog format, changes can be made as new information is confirmed.