Monday, May 1, 2017

Granite County Historical Society Seminar and Field Trips, June 23-24, 2017

The Granite County Historical Society will help celebrate Philipsburg's 150th birthday with events on June 23 and 24.

June 23, 6 pm at Museum. Granite County Historical Society seminar featuring Robert Carriker, Professor Emeritus of History at Gonzaga University, discussing "Peter John De Smet: Well-known in the Nineteenth Century, Not so Well-known in the Twenty-first Century." Ted Antonioli will then talk about "Father De Smet's El Dorado - Flint Creek".  We will conclude with a talk on the Drummond and Philipsburg Railroad by Bill Taylor, author (with Jan Taylor) of excellent books on the "Railroads to Gold and Silver" in Montana.

June 24, 1:30 pm, half day Granite County Historical Society plus guests from the Natural History Institute will meet at the James Stuart/Hope millsite at the east end of Broadway at 1:30 pm for an introduction to area history by Ted Antonioli and area geology by Katie McDonald. A demonstration of a stamp mill by Dave Harris, Jim Waldbillig and helpers will follow. We will then break into two groups for tours of Granite (by Ted) or Philipsburg (by Jim). 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Nancy Flood, Daughters and Granddaughters

                         

After the Civil War many women were widowed with large families. Because of the law of the land, other than finding another man to marry, very few options were open to support their families. Men on the east coast were few due to the casualties of war and westward immigration. Mary, the widowed mother of Nannie, Julia and Rozenia Gasper was left to support seven children on $7.00 a month government pension.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Lannon and Commerce at the Mouth of Bear

     

In Captain John Mullan’s  Report on the Construction of a Military Road From Fort Walla Walla to Fort Benton is a list of petitioner signers on December 15, 1859.   The forty eight men desired that the new county in Washington Territory be named “Bitterroot”, but the legislative body chose the name Missoula. On this petition is the name Lannon, but there is no first name.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Kate Price Dingwall

Lucy Coberley's  grand daughter Kate (Catherine) Price arrived with her brother John in the Deer Lodge Valley at the age of eighteen. She first stayed with Aunt Fedelia on the Stark ranch then went to live with Grandma Lucy at her hotel near Gold Creek. She attended school at New Chicago for a short time, before marrying William Dingwall.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Removing the Stamp Mill at the Royal Mine

Here are some pictures from Larry Hoffman (bottom) and Jim Waldbillig (top two) of the removal of the stamp mill components at the Royal Mine in 2013. This is the stamp mill battery and other equipment that is being reassembled at the Hope Millsite in Philipsburg. Crew was Larry Hoffman, Jim Waldbillig, Phil McDonald, and Dave Harris.



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Monday, March 13, 2017

Phosphate Mining at Douglas Creek

Phosphate mining was an important component of Granite County's economy from the 1940s through the 1960s. The mines were in Permian Phosphoria formation several miles up the Douglas Creek drainage near Hall.  The geologic conditions are favorable as the formation is folded into an anticline and faulted so there several exposures of the main ore bed in a small area.

At first mining was conducted by the International Minerals and Chemical Corp. The phosphate rock is lower grade than the large mines near Garrison, and upgrading by flotation was necessary. The mill was next to the highway near the mouth of Douglas Creek. In the 1960s Cominco operated the mine with a mill part way between the mine and the highway. The spur to the mine and mill were named "Elephant" after Cominco's brand of phosphate fertilizer. Dave Harris worked in the mine for a time and says the mine was believed to have 40 years of reserves above the tunnel level. However after just a few years of operation the mine was shut and the mill equipment was moved to a Cominco mine in Greenland. According to Cominco's Montana manager, the mine simply could not match the costs of the big open pit phosphate mine at Vernal Utah. That mine is now owned by Simplot and is still operating.

Extensive records of the mine are located in the archives of the University of Montana.  Environmental issues related to phosphate dust are discussed in some detail in the Clancy Gordon papers at UM.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Building of the first Road through Northern Granite County

                       


As you speed down I-90 at 80 miles per hour to your shopping spree in Missoula,  have you ever thought about the perils and labor expended when this valley was first traveled? The selection of developing this route is chiefly credited to Captain John Mullan (1830-1909). Arriving in the area with Washington Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens in 1853 to survey a northern railroad route, Mullan was left with a small group of soldiers and laborers near Fort Owen during the winter of 53-54.  He was given  broad orders to explore and develop  wagon routes  “which in time should lend themselves as aids to the construction of our railroad lines” (Mullan Journal). After gleaning much information during the winter, Mullan left the Bitter Root with a small group on March 1, 1854 (on horse back); crossed the Rocky Mountains on the 10th; reached Fort Benton on the 14th.  Left Fort Benton on the 17th after fitting up a wagon train and re-crossed the range, reaching the Bitter Root Camp again on the 31st.  

A later trip synopsis provides a good descriptor of the geography: “…reaching the Big Blackfoot, we crossed to its left bank on the first and second (of July) by means of a wagon-boat and a small bateau…Our location up the Hell’s Gate this season involved eleven crossings of this stream in fifty miles; the first was ferried; the rest forded. This stream is from one hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty feet broad; its current rapid, and its course very serpentine over the distance that we followed it. Its valley is from one to four miles broad, and mostly timbered with open pine….We reached no point of much difficulty until making the eleventh crossing of the Hell’s Gate, where a spur involved a cutting of half a mile to enable us to pass it. This was completed by the ninth of July, when with rapid marches we hurried forward to the mouth of Gold creek…The upper portion of the valley of Flint Creek may be found suited to agriculture.”

After the first exploration and clearing of a route between Walla Walla and Fort Benton, Mullan was transferred to a command position in the east during the Indian Wars. When he returned to the area, in 1859,  his focus was no longer on the railroad but to develop a Military Road. Mullan was able to lobby Congress for  $30,000 and set about this task. Mullan sent men out to various spots where they made camp and worked all winter on their designated area.   

Mullan then set out to review his road and determine mileage and the dollars he needed to appropriate from Congress to finish paying  for the road. This journey began in 1860 and was very different than his 1853 -54 trips as the land was now becoming settled. The daily journal details the geography  all the way from Walla Walla. 

This article will quote only those days from Missoula through Granite county: Twenty eighth day-Move to Higgin’s and Worden’s store, at Hell Gate (Missoula),…road excellent, wood water and grass here; good place to rest animals for a day or two; blacksmith shop at Van Dorn’s and supplies of all kinds can be obtained, dry goods, groceries, beef, vegetables and fresh animals if needed. Twenty ninth day- Move to Blackfoot bridge, eleven miles; road good; wood water and grass abundant. Thirtieth day- Move to Campbell’s camp, fifteen miles; road excellent; good wood, water and grass abound. Thirty first day- Move to Lannon’s camp, nine miles; road excellent; may have to double team to Beaver Tail Butte; wood, water and grass abundant (near present day Bearmouth). Thirty second day- Move eleven miles to Lyon’s creek, crossing enroute Hells Gate Bridge; road good; wood water and grass at camp (south side of the river following the current Mullan Road). Thirty third day- Move to Flint Creek, distance eleven miles; road somewhat hilly but still not steep; wood water and grass at camp. Thirty fourth day-Move thirteen and one half miles to  Gold Creek or American Fork of Hell’s Gate river; road excellent; wood, water and grass at camp. Supplies of all kinds to be had here.”

The way Mullan measured miles was by running a single wheel with a handle in front of him and knowing how many wheel turns equaled a mile he computed the daily trip. The group arrived at Fort Benton August 1st and on August 7th the first and last major military expedition moved out over the newly completed route.

From then on, although not maintained, gold miners and cattlemen used the trail and in later years, the railroads followed part of the route, as did Highway 10, then interstate 90.

Captain John Mullan in the early 1860"s from the John Mullan Papers at Georgetown University Library, Special Collections Research Center Washington D.C.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Gun Registration in Montana during WWI

        One day George Byrd summoned me into his antique shop in downtown Philipsburg and showed me an early 1900s era Sheriff's log recording such items as investigations and arrests. Also in the log was a detailed but undated list of gun owners in Granite County along with the model and serial number of every gun in each person's possession.