Gold and Mineral Mines of Montana

Historic Big Nine Lode

20.66 Acre Placer Claim – Elliston District – Powell County, Montana

Big Nine 20.66 Acre Unpatented Lode Gold Mining ClaimThe Historic Big Nine Lode Mine for sale, a 20.66 Acre Unpatented Lode Mining Claim on federal land managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The claim is located just outside of Elliston, Montana in the Elliston Mining District in Powell County, MT and has been properly marked. All claims have been carefully surveyed, mapped and researched. MMC #241030


The Big Nine has an adit of several hundred feet and an inclined shaft of another several hundred feet. Above the adit an open cut has exposed argilliized quartz monzonite in a zone approximately 60 feet wide which contains and aplite dike trending N. 54 degrees W. The dike has been argillized and contains abundant tourmaline. On the adit dump, vein quartz containing tourmaline and pyrite was found.


The Big Nine claim is 20.66 acres. The claim consists of several collapsed adits and shafts with multiple drifts and a large ore shoot as seen in the pictures.


The Big Nine is a short drive out of Elliston, MT. A dirt road winds up into the hills and right to the base of one of the dumps. This is an old and rarely visited area. The road runs to the base of the hill below the mines then from there the road to the mine is ATV or UTV only. There is a good spot for parking near the dump, in a small clearing at the mine. The claim covers a full 20.66 acres, and has been written to cover the general trend of the lode.


The mine is an old cut. It appears to have been one of many mines in the area that worked the Big Dick and Blanket Veins. This mine appears to have also been known as the Blackjack Mine and the Wye Mine. Gold And Mineral Mines of Montana also owns the Big Dick/Evening Star/Golden Anchor/Treasure Mountain Mine.

There several hundred feet of workings in the main shaft and adits of the Big Nine mine.


When we visited it this past fall all the adits/shafts were collapsed and we were not able to enter at that time. There is plenty of ore on the dumps


The tailings offer a good mining opportunity. Over the years some of the gold has washed down to the bottom of the tailings pile from the top. The previous miners used the best technology of their time but they left a huge amount of good ore behind in the tailings. In addition, sulfide ore was harder to treat back then and most times it was thrown out on the tailings piles at old mines. Some of the lode mines from the 1800's are full of gold to this day because the technology to process sulfide ore was not available back then so they threw it out and over time the ore has been sitting out in the weather oxidizing which then releases the gold. Many old mine dumps are very profitable for this reason alone. You'll find unprocessed gold ore throughout the hillside.


Huge amount of info not listed, so if your interested in a gold lode mine feel free to give me a call or text at 406 219 1497. Ken


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

Several adits and a shaft are included in this claim. The mines are on the Big Dick and Blanket veins but currently none of the adits or shaft are open. The new owners will want to dig out the portals of the adits to get to the gold/silver viens. Opening the portals will also help to dry out the mine. A dry mine is safer than a wet one. We estimate it would take about a couple of days for 1 or 2 guys to dig out each portal.

The historical documents show the mine was active from 1915 to 1930 no production figures have been found for the mine. Once the adits portals are opened a locked gate would be required by law to prevent people from going inside and getting injured. The drift and raise are directly on the rich ore bodies. The shaft connects lower drifts on the rich gold/silver veins and to access these lower drifts would require opening the shaft and building a safety platform.

The fact that such rich samples are so easily found right from the start make this mine an easy one to begin making a profit from right away. The workings are impressive, the entire mine site is currently very large but could quickly be made larger.

Just outside of the shaft is a very large ore bin that was previously used for loading haul trucks with the valuable ore. The trucks would then haul the valuable ore to a local mill. For the most part the road is intact. The mine just needs to be worked and the recent sampling has shown this mine will be profitable quickly.

The mine was worked through an inclined shaft and an adit, each about 350 ft long, to work the Big Dick and the Blanket vein. There is one known shaft. Subsurface depth reaches a maximum of 107 meters (350 feet) and extends 91 meters (300 feet) in length. The ore mined is composed of chalcopyrite, galena and sphalerite with waste material consisting primarily of quartz, tourmaline and pyrite. The ore body extends 1.07 meters (3.51 feet) in width. The host rock in this area is andesite. The Northern Rocky Mountains physiographic province of the Rocky Mountain System characterize the geomorphology of the surrounding area. TOURMALINE IN WALL ROCK, TRACE OF CHALCOPYRITE IN SPHALERITE. Ore body width 3.51 feet, Strike: south, Dip: 30 west. Minerals at the mine: Calcite, Pyrite, Quatrz, Tourmaline, Chalcopyrite, Galena, Gold, Sphalerite, Silver, Copper, Zinc

The Big Nine Mine is located in the northwest corner of section 6 and the northeast corner of section 1. It is short drive from Elliston to the mine. Big Nine claim is about 6600 feet in altitude.

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 p. 466)

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.

Details about the Mine:
Access to the Mine The road is maintained in good condition to the base of the claim. Road on the claim to the adit, inclined shaft and Ore Bin is passable when we visited. There is plenty of area to park a camper or RV prior to getting to the mine. We advise utilizing a side-by-side or 4 wheeler on your first trip to the mine to see how the road is.
Tailing Present Surveyors estimate well over 10,000 tons.
Depth / Length Several hundred feet. Depth of 350 feet, drifts of 300 feet with a raise.
Minerals in the Mine Historically mined for gold and silver and copper. Minerals of tourmaline, quartz, pyrite, galena, gold, silver, black sands with rare earth minerals would be expected. There isn't much history specifically for the Big Nine mine except some lines in a description from the Elliston mining district. Gold and Silver and Copper will be the minerals to mine from the Big Nine and there is a lot of very rich ore at the mine based on the dump grab samples.
Foot traffic at the mine Very little.
Last Worked Unknown.
Number of Mines Several Adits and a single shaft
Nearest city with amenities Elliston, approximately 13.7 miles
Access to the Claim A dirt road breaks off from the Interstate and leads all the way to the mine. Overall the road is in relatively good condition when dry. You will not be able to bring a camper or RV to this claim but there are plenty of camping areas prior to getting to the claim that an RV or camper can be parked.
Parking and Staging on the Claim Claim is situated so it allows for parking and staging of vehicles (ATV's, UTV's) if desired.
Resources Year round water in the creek at the main road, grasses, sage and trees. More than enough trees on the claim for use in the mine.
Structures on claim 1 ore bin, a couple collapsed structures.
Elevation Aprox. 6700 feet
Total Workings Over several hundred feet of workings which are cut along a gold rich ore body. At the present time the shaft is caved in and all adits are collapsed. No water is flowing out of the upper adits.

USGS Information
The Big Nine appears to have been a part of the Big Dick/Golden Anchor/Evening Star in the USGS Database.

Economic information about the deposit and operations

Operation TypeLode
Development StatusPast Producer
Commodity typeMetallic
  • Gold- Primary
  • Silver - Primary
  • Copper - Secondary
  • Lead - Secondary
Length of workings300 ft
Comments on workings information306 FT. OF SHAFT, WITH 305 FT. OF DRIFTS AND RAISE
Host RockBoulder Batholith
ReferencesUSGS Database - 10101974, 10012270, 10221604, 10124956

Mining District Information

Elliston District

The Elliston mining district is about 20 miles west of Helena and south of the Little Blackfoot River. It includes the town of Elliston which is the first town on the Northern Pacific Railroad west of the Continental Divide. The mining district includes the town of Elliston but is generally south of the river in mountainous, heavily-forested terrain. Early reports on the district described about 15 productive mines, most of which were from five to 11 miles south of the town.
The geology in the vicinity of Elliston consists of an apparently conformable succession of limestone, quartzite and sandstone. The lowest formation is the Madison limestone which is overlain by the Quadrant quartzite, near the top of which occurs a bed of high-grade phosphate rock. To the south of Elliston rhyolites are present and persist on the flanks of the mountains to 6,200 ft. The ore deposits of the Elliston district contain values chiefly of lead-silver, some of which contain considerable gold. The ore minerals are galena, pyrite, sphalerite, arsenopyrite and tetrahedrite in a quartz-carbonate gangue (Schrader 1929; Pardee and Schrader 1933).
The Elliston district began as a placer operation along the Little Blackfoot River during the 1860s... It was not until the 1890s, when lode mining was developed south of town, that the district began to produce significant amounts of ore. Most of the production from the lode mining occurred between 1890 and 1908, at which point the total production was estimated at $2,750,000. Most of this production came from the Big Dick (or Evening Star), Monarch, Julia, Flora, Ontario and Twin City mines. However, during the first half of the 1890s, the town and the area's primary economic base was woodcutting. Cutting cord wood for the Anaconda Copper Mining Company's smelter at Anaconda employed more than one hundred wood cutters and it was during this period that the town of Elliston reached its peak in population and activity. However, in 1894 and again in 1895, fires destroyed the town (Lyden 1948; Robertson 1956; Wolle 1963).
Knopf (1913) reported that by 1911 there was little mining in progress in the Elliston district and throughout the region. Pardee and Schrader (1933) indicate that some sporadic mining occurred in the Elliston district during the 1910s and 1920s with a total production of about $200,000, with $70,000 of this coming from gold and the remainder from 90,000 ounces of silver, 700,000 pounds of lead and 90,000 pounds of copper (Pardee and Schrader 1933).
Robertson (1956) reported periodic mining activity in the district since then, although no important mines have been developed. He estimates the total production for the district at somewhat more than $3,100,000. During the period from 1909 to 1954 the district marketed about 7,600 ounces of gold, 149,000 ounces of silver, 98,000 pounds of copper, 1,560,000 pounds of lead and 197,000 pounds of zinc (Anderson 1990; Robertson 1948).
The country rock is a coarse andesitic breccia, apparently bedded; the strike is N. 50° E. and the dip 20° NW. It is much jointed so that determinations of strike and dip of bedding are likely to be unsafe. The ore deposit is said to be a blanket vein developed by a shaft 300 feet deep and is said to dip north at a low angle. The ore carries galena, pyrite, sphalerite, and arsenopyrite in a quartz gangue; some of the quartz contains numerous large columns of black tourmaline intergrown with pyrite. The ore is reported to have been high grade, carrying as much as 3 ounces of gold a ton. During 1906 a gold-silver-lead ore was shipped to the East Helena smelter and a production was maintained until 1910. The deposit was worked to the west end line; during 1911 the lessees were engaged in sinking a shaft near this end line on the adjoining claim, which is one of a group known as the Finnish or Weston group. It was expected that the Big Dick vein would be struck at a depth of 150 feet.

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