Alder Gold A 17.7 Acre Unpatented Placer Gold Mining Claim
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Alder Gold
Operation Type : Placer Mine
Serial Number : MT101874062
Mining Claim Size : 17.7 Acres
Comodities : Gold, Silver, Sapphires, Garnets
Price : $19,500
City : Virginia City
County : Madison
State : Montana
Zip : 59755
Features and Amenities

Historic Alder Gold

17.7 Acre Placer Claim - Virginia City District - Madison County, Montana

Presenting the Historic Alder Gold Placer Mining Claim for sale, a 17.7 Acre Unpatented Placer Mining Claim. The claim is located just outside of Virginia City, Montana. MT101874062

This is a remote Montana gold mine. The Alder Gold Placer Gold Claim offers impressive mining opportunities. An extensive amount of Old Dredge Tailings that hold gold nuggets, as well as the natural streambed support productive gold recovery. The claim is suited for most types of gold mining activities from panning, sluicing and high-banking to metal detecting, dowsing and more. Alder Creek which runs through the middle of the claim provides plenty of year round water for all your mining needs. The valley bottom is old river bed material. The higher benches also hold old river bed material. Access to the claim is through private property. In the past the owner has allowed access. The claim was originally surveyed and sampled for rich, free gold deposits in the gravels. There are plenty of areas to camp near this claim. This is a unique claim and is the ONLY claim on Alder Gulch. No other ground is available on the gulch. Not only do the dredge tailings offer an excellent opportunity for finding the big nuggets the dredge couldn't capture but the ground below the talings is rich in gold. The bucket line dredges have never been efficient in capturing all the gold. On Alder Gulch they NEVER got to bedrock for one thing. And another is that as the bucket digs the dirt it has a huge amount that sluffs off and drops back down and is never scooped up again. Bucket line dredges are notoriously inefficient and it is estimated they only recover 60% of the gold in the ground. An opportunity like this doesn't come around often.

The creek bed is over 795 feet on this claim and there is water year round. It is likely there is some native silver, garnets, and possibly some relics to be found on the claim but the primary commodity will be gold. This is not a claim to pass up!

Alder Creek offers a wealth of dredge tailings and hard-packed streambed; ideal spots to high-bank, sluice, metal detect, or pan. The gold you will recover on this claim has been piling up on the creek bed since the dredge came through and no one has been able to get it. If you buy this claim you will be the first person to have this opportunity! The gold that you will find on this claim has been washing down from the tailings and gulches above and depositing and replenishing the gold on this claim. The ground in the Alder Creek area is known to pay extremely well.

There is not direct road access to this claim and but there is room for staging, parking and other operations just off the highway and it is possible the private land owner would allow some parking and staging. This is an unpatented mining claim for sale. Mineral rights only for recreational mining. The land is public BLM Managed land. This is not a homestead or land for sale.

The best gold is on bedrock. There is still good gold in the creek, benches and on bedrock on this claim. Geologists have estimed the gold on bedrock is many times more than what was recovered by the dredges. It's all yours if you buy the claim!

The Bureau of Mines has estimated that demonstrated U.S. reserves of gold are 85 million ounces. Approximately one-half of the total resources are estimated to be by-product gold, while 40% of the remaining one-half (56 million ounces) could be mined for gold alone … Most U.S. gold resources are in the nation’s western states. About 80% of the U.S. gold resources are estimated to be in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana and Washington. (Earthsearch, Inc. 1983)

Overview of the Mines

William Fairweather
William Fairweather

Placer gold was first discovered in Alder gulch on May 26th, 1863, upstream from present day Virginia City and the discovery was made by Bill Fairweather, Mike Sweeney, Barney Hughes, Henry Rodgers, Tom Cover, and Henry Edgar.

"The six prospectors approached the skyline ridge of the Tobacco Root Mountains cautiously, climbing slowly, leading their horses surreptitiously upward, watching behind for any signs of pursuit as they moved over the crest, making dark silhouettes against the late-afternoon sky. They hoped they might be mistaken for scraggly junipers, if the Crows were still following their sign in the valley below. They hadn't seen the Crows since the day before yesterday during the skirmish they'd had with them coming out of the Yellowstone valley. Chances were the redskins were still skulking along, just as they had been since the older chiefs had released the six white men three weeks ago ...

Henry Edgar August 29, 1899 on Alder Gulch
Henry Edgar
August 29, 1899 on Alder Gulch

There were pleasant enough camping spots on the way down, springs and little meadows, but no good hiding place. Not until they reached the gulch bottom did they find the cover they needed: a place upstream a way, where the canyon narrowed, where the alder and chokecherries gave cover to man and horse and screening for a fire. Here a man might keep his hair during another long night.

After supper, four of the group unlashed picks and pans and went upstream to prospect, leaving Fairweather and Edgar behind to wash dishes and stake out the horses. Bill was looking for a place for the animals, when he noticed a promising rimrock sticking up from a bar in the stream. He yelled to Edgar to bring the tools; mebbe they'd try to wash out a little tobacco money, them ponies could wait awhile.

When Bill had filled a pan, Edgar took it down to the stream's edge. He dipped it expertly under the water, then up, swirling it dextrously above the surface, then under again ... he caught his breath at what he saw. Fairweather's yell from behind startled him.

'I've got a scad!'

'If you have one, I have a hundred!' Edgar shouted back ... "(Barsness, 1962, Gold Camp, p. 1-3)

"The first pan of gravel yielded $2.40. The first four pans of gravel yielded a total of $12.30 (Edgar, 1900, p. 137-138)

The greatest placer gold deposit in Montana has been that of Alder Gulch...

The placers that were developed as a result of this discovery extended from the flanks of Baldy mountain downstream to a point a short distance below the town of Alder. It has been estimated that these placers had yielded $50,612,000 by 1933 (Tansley and others, 1933, p. 46), or $125,000,000 by 1908 (Kirk, 1908, p. 330)...

During the first three years, 1863-1866, it is estimated that the placers yielded $30,000,000 from Alder Gulch and it's tributaries, particularly Brown's Gulch." (Lyden, 1987, p. 54)

Due to the abundance of gold both at Bannack and Alder in the early days a crowd of outlaws were attracted to the area. Their leader was Henry Plummer, the gang called themselves the 'Innocents'.

Of particular interest is that these two mining camps are not relatively close to each other. Riding by horseback or stage back in the mid 1800's would have taken a couple of days ride especially due to the hostile Indians in the area. Even with this distance and the danger associated with it, the outlaw leader Henry Plummer was able to not only convince the people of Bannack to elect him as Sheriff but also the folks at Virginia City.

Being the Sheriff of both places at once afforded him the excuse of hiring plenty of deputies, after all he couldn't be at both places at the same time. Henry Plummer and his gang of Innocents robbed and murdered as many people as they could in order to steal their valuables. Both those coming into the area and those leaving with the rewards of their hard work mining or as storekeepers.

Plummer was intricately involved with the mining at Bannack as records show he was part owner of the first Lode mine in the Montana territory and had holdings in several other mines in the area. When Plummer was finally arrested and before he was hung he pleaded with the Vigilantes to give him an hour and he would return with his weight in gold to buy his freedom. He said he could see where the gold was hidden from the jail cell he was kept in, but the vigilantes had had enough and they refused his offer and hung him.

As far as anyone knows Plummer's gold, if it existed, has never been found.

The Alder Gold Mine is in an area with rich gold mining history. Gold was discovered in 1863 and has yeilded more than $40,000,000 by sluicing, drifting, and dredging in Alder Gulch and tributaries. There is the possibility of buried channels under the basalt flows and these should be investigated.(MBMG, M5, p. 25) As with all old mines and mining districts in the Western U.S., the old timers NEVER got it all!

More than 2,475,000 oz Au recovered so far from Alder Gulch and tributaries. (MBMG, SP 122, p. 21)

The discovery of gold on Alder Gulch was the second major gold ruch in Montana history and was one of the largest. Many books have been written about the discovery of the gold and the rush itself along with the notorious outlaws that terrorized the miners and towns. To write about all the gold and happenings that occured is beyond what this listing is about. The old timers never got all the gold in this gulch and today most of the gulch is private property. The gold is just sitting there like a bank for the person that owns the ground. And what a bank it is.

Geologists have estimated that only about 7% of the gold in the Alder gulch area was ever recovered. That leaves over 1.5 billion dollars worth of gold still there. You can do the math with the information we have given in this section. Take the 2,475,000 oz Au and figure how much more there is left in the ground if that amount is only 7%. Then multiply the 93% by the current spot price of gold. Sure, there is a purity issue so that will lower the amount you get by maybe 10% but it's still way over 1.5 Billion dollars.

In all my years researching and selling mining claims in Montana I have discovered there are a minimum of 3 locations that have potentially more than 1 Billion dollars worth of gold still left in them. Alder Gulch was the second location I discovered. The price of gold keeps going up and will because the government is determined to destroy the counrty. As they do this the dollar will become less and less valuable and gold will be worth more. In the next few years I expect gold to be in the $3,000 to $4,000 per ounce range. But even now at more than $2,000 per ounce the gold you could recover from just this one claim and it's value is in the millions.

In buying this claim it could be possible to make a deal to mine some of the private land adjacent to it for a percentage and the landowner gets the rest. The right kind of deal could make both you and the landowner wealthy beyond your dreams.

The Hidden Channel

Geologists have thought there is a hidden channel concealed beneath the basaltic lavas, and containing gold far beyond what has been mined from the gulch so far.

The hidden channel was discussed several times in articles in The Madisonian between 1915 and 1923. In May 28, 1915, newspaper article, the hidden channel was described as: "...perhaps the greatest deposit of placer gold in the world." This belief reportedly was supported by the opinions of several leading geologists. (MBMG, B133, p. 31)

The Majority opinion in the early part of the century clearly held that discovery of a hidden channel, or even channels, was simply a matter of time and determination, and perhaps faith. That majority opinion probably is correct, at least in suggesting that ancient channels might be preserved beneath the Virginia City lavas... (MBMG, b 133, p32)

While it is sometimes said old mines have been ‘worked out’ as the saying means there is no gold left, the truth is “it is better to say they are worked over; it is also true that the primitive methods used and the wasteful haste to get rich indulged in, left much of the gold in the ground, so that improved methods … will give even better results than those first obtained.” (MBMG Open Report 466)

Details about the Mine:

Access to the Mine You can drive a full size truck to the mine.
Access through private property with permission from the landowner.
Total Workings Over 795 feet of creek bed estimated. This assessment is based on what surveyors observed while on site. Loose gravels in the creek bed of small pebbles to larger boulders. Boulders are great places for the gold to hide. Benches on both sides of the creek are virgin ground.
Minerals in the Mine Free milling gold, gold nuggets and or gems.
Historically mined for gold.
Minerals of gold, silver, sapphires, garnets, black sands with rare earth minerals are known in to be in the ground.
Foot traffic at the mine Almost none.
Last Worked Unknown
Number of Mines 1 Placer
Nearest city with amenities Virginia City, approximately 8 miles
Structures on claim None
Resources Year round water, grasses, and trees
Elevation Aprox. 5500 feet

Montana is ranked 7th by the USGS for total gold production in the US and has 31 mining districts. Gold production for the 1800’s to 1968 is 17.8 million ounces and large amounts of gold have been mined from 1968 to present. Geologists have predicted that based on the past and the geology of Montana that several large gold and silver deposits will be found and developed in the future (Bergendahl and Koshmann, 1968).

Climate / Weather

USGS Information

Economic information about the deposit and operations

Operation Type Placer
Development Status Past Producer
Commodity type Metallic
Commodities Gold- Primary
Silver - Tertiary
Comments on the reserve resouce ORE CONSISTS OF ALLUVIAL AU TAILINGS.
Comments on the workings information: FROM 1863-1899 GRAVELS WORKED BY SLUICE BOXES, PANS, AND ROCKERS. DREDGING FROM 1899-1922. SLUICING AND DRYLAND DREDGING 1922-1942, AND 1946-1948
References USGS Database - 10105717, 10197312

Mining District Information

Virginia City District

The first discovery of placer gold in Alder Gulch occurred on May 22, 1863, when a small group of prospectors, including William Fairweather, Henry Edgar and Barney Hughes, panned the creek while on their way back to Bannack. The party had discovered what would become the richest placer strike in the history of the Montana Territory. The prospectors, however, had lost most of their supplies in an encounter with the Crow Indians and had to return to Bannack following the initial strike. They tried to keep the discovery a secret, but word inevitably got out and a horde of some 200 men followed them back to Alder Gulch. As word of the rich diggings along Alder Gulch became known, there was a general exodus from Bannack where the placer workings were starting to play out. Miners swarmed up and down Alder Gulch and within a year the population would swell to an estimated 10,000 people, and the Virginia City mining district and its sub-districts were established. Settlements were established along the gulch with Alder at the mouth, Summit at the head, Virginia City in the middle and Adobetown, Central City, Junction and Nevada City scattered in between resulting in a rambling, ramshackle continuous settlement extending up and down the gulch for 14 miles. For this reason the early settlement was also known as Fourteen-mile City. In 1865 the territorial seat of government moved from Bannack to Virginia City which remained the territorial capital until 1875 when the capital was moved to Helena (Malone and Roeder 1976; Wolle 1963).
Geologically, the Virginia City mining district (VCMD) is in the southern portion of the Tobacco Root mountains in Madison County on lands that slope to the north from Ramshorn and South Baldy mountains. The primary rocks are gneiss and schists of igneous and sedimentary origin which were formed in the pre-Paleozoic period and are part of the pre-Belt Series. During the late Cretaceous or early Tertiary the intrusion of a quartz monzonite batholith was the most significant event in the geologic history of the region. The metals formed within the batholith were the reason for the mining efforts in the area (Tansley et al. 1933:47).
Ore deposits in Browns Gulch consist of argentite, auriferous pyrite, native silver, tetrahedrite, native gold, sphalerite, and stibnite. In the Summit district, ores consist of pyrite and course native (telluride) gold, with little silver or base metals. In the Fairweather and Highland districts stringers and quartz veins carry pyrite, chalcopyrite, and galena. A fissure vein on the Winnetka mine contains quartz, pyrite, telluride, hematite, limonite, and chalcopyrite. The primary recovered metals are gold and silver (Winchell 1914:163-164).
The area around the initial strike was organized as the Fairweather placer district on June 6, 1863, the same day Fairweather's group, and the mob of following miners, arrived back in the gulch. Other meetings followed which adopted mining laws, set up a miner's court, elected officials and created other mining districts. By the end of 1864 all of Alder Gulch was staked with placer mining claims and divided into placer mining districts. These districts were based primarily on the potential of the placer gravels although they also included lode claims. The Fairweather district was located in the center of the gulch. Above the Fairweather was the Pine Grove district and above it, at the head of the gulch, was the Summit district. Extending down the gulch from the discovery site were the Nevada and Junction districts. Located south of Nevada City, was the Browns Gulch district in the gulch of the same name. The Granite district was established along Granite Creek, about two miles northwest of Nevada City. The Highland, Barton Gulch, and Williams Gulch districts were added later to what became the overall Virginia City mining district (Tansley et al. 1933; Malone and Roeder 1976; Wolle 1963).
Henry Plummer's stolen Gold has never been recovered. It is still hidden where he left it more than a hundred years ago. When Henry was arrested he told the vigilantes that he would pay them his weight in gold and that he could see where it was stashed from the window in the jail. The vigilantes wouldn't release Henry to bring back the gold and they hung him from the gallows without ever identifying where the hidden gold was located.
Estimates of the amount of gold taken from the gulch during the first five years are put at $30,000,000 to $40,000,000. Although the boom was over, lesser amounts of placer gold would continue to be taken from the gulch for the next two decades. Chinese miners leased many of the original claims and methodically worked over the mined areas, recovering considerable amounts of gold missed by the early placer miners. White placer miners also continued to work the gulch until as late as 1887. An additional $10,000,000 worth of gold was taken from the gulch during this period.
Placer mining can only work relatively shallow deposits and many mining experts realized there was undoubtedly a large amount of gold still to be found along the gulch. The only feasible way to get the remaining gold would be with floating dredges. In 1896, the second period of placer mining began when the Conrey Placer Mining Company was organized to dredge the gulch. The company bought up placer ground along the gulch as well as a number of ranches below the mouth of the gulch. The first dredge went into operation in 1899. Ultimately, six dredges were constructed which, during the next 24 years, processed over 37 million cubic yards of ground along a seven-mile long stretch of bottom land from Virginia City to Alder.
The Conrey company's most productive year was in 1915 when it had four electric dredges working at once. They processed some six million cubic yards of gravel, recovering more than $800,000 in gold. By the first part of 1922 the company decided that all the dredgeable ground was exhausted and it closed down the operation. The company's two decades of dredging the seven miles of Alder Gulch were profitable ones with a total of $9,000,000 worth of gold being recovered. Shortly after the dredges were shut down, most were disassembled and the equipment sold for scrap while the heavy wooden barges were left to slowly rot away in their dredge ponds (Lyden 1948; Wolle 1963).
For the next 12 years only small-scale sluicing operations occurred in Alder Gulch. In July of 1935 the Humphrey's Gold corporation set up a 5,000-yard, dry-land dredging operation that operated until June 1937, producing a total of 19,592 ounces of gold. In 1940 and 1941 another company operated a dry-land dredge that recovered about 1180 ounces of gold. Estimates of the total amount of gold produced in the Virginia City region range from a low of $30,000,000 to a high of $150,000,000. Tansley, Schafer and Hart (1933) put the total at over $54,000,000 in 1933, although this figure was based on conservative estimates of early production from data published by the United States Geological Survey. Even conservative figures show Alder Gulch and the surrounding area to be one of the richest gold-producing areas in the West.
The original gold rush into Alder Gulch in 1863 found what turned out to be the richest placer diggings in Montana. An estimated $30,000,000 in gold was taken from the gulch between 1863 and 1866. During the following 23 years an additional $10,000,000 was taken from the gulch by sluice boxes, pans and rockers. While the initial placer boom is perhaps the most significant historical period, no sites have been recorded that are representative of these early placers. Because of the extensive dredging by the Conrey Placer Mining Company and by later placer and dry land dredging operations, most evidence of the early hand placering of the bonanza period has been destroyed.
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