Gold and Mineral Mines of Montana

Historic Hangman’s Gold #14

20 Acre Placer Claim – Bannack District – Beaverhead County, Montana

The Historic Hangman's Gold #14 Placer Mining Claim for sale, a 20 Acre Unpatented Placer Mining Claim. The claim is located just outside of Bannack, Montana. MT105244362


This is a remote Montana gold mine. The Hangman's Gold #14 Placer Gold Claim offers impressive mining opportunities. An extensive amount of benches as well as the natural dry 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. This is a dry claim without water, you would need to bring water to use in your mining. The entire claim is old creek bed. The material is in layers and the sandy layers hold the gold while the clay layers are barren. During surveying gold was easily found in the material by panning. The valley bottom is old river bed material. The claim boasts good access and does get visitors on the road. 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.


It is likely there is some native silver, sapphires, and possibly some relics to be found on the claim but the primary commodity will be gold. The road to the claim is accessible from May through snowfall, normally late November. The road is maintained and is in very good condition. 4-Wheel drive is not required but recommended. This is not a claim to pass up!


Hangman's Gold #14 offers a large amount of old creek bed that consists of looser sand and gravel material and hard-packed clay layers; ideal spots to high-bank with a recirculating system, metal detect, or pan. It is likely there has been some work done after 1900 based on the remnants and items seen in the area. It is estimated by the surveyors that the claim has been worked intermittently in the early 1900's. No effort to mine for many decades is evident. The gold that you will find on this claim has been washing down from the mines, hills and gulches above and depositing and replenishing the gold on this claim. There is plenty of room to setup your recirculating sluice or highbanker and shovel material right next to it. There is plenty of opportunity here!


There is not direct road access to this claim but there is room for staging, parking and other operations on the road which is very close.


The best gold is on bedrock. Hangman's Gulch is one of the gulches in the district that is said to have deposited the gold that was recovered in the Bannack and Grasshopper Creek valley during the 1800's. There is still good gold on the benches and on bedrock on this claim. Reports from early mining stated the old timers never got to bedrock except in one location and when they did it was a bonanza! This same gold is on this claim as it is in all the claims surrounding this one. We have dug down about 15 feet toward bedrock near here and found nice coarse gold. The gold gets bigger and more plentiful the deeper you go and of course on bedrock it is amazing.


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
The Hangman's Gold #14 Mine is in an area with rich gold mining history. As with all old mines and mining districts in the Western U.S., the old timers NEVER got it all! Why? There are many reasons for this and here is a short list of some of them.
1) In the mining camps 'News' of other 'Strikes' was always coming in and miners seemed to be eager to pick up and leave what they had for the new locations. It didn't seem to matter that the new location may not be as good or that by the time they heard of it there wasn't any open ground left for them to stake a claim. The grass is always greener was their belief.
2) Some new strikes were better because they had more gold or more water or easier access - remember back then there were no roads to these places.
3) Some new places were safer. Between outlaws, hostile indians and bears and other wildlife there was always something to fear.
4) When the USA entered the second world war congress closed all non-essential mines in the country. Unless a mine could switch to mining other metals for the war they were forced to close. Very few mines were allowed to stay open and operational. Those mines that closed stayed closed after the war for a few reasons - a lot of the mine owners died in the war and/or never came back, economic conditions after the war were not good enough to reopen the mines and the many owners held the claims hoping the economy would change for the better but most of these owners died before the economy made it economically viable to reopen the mines, many mines were forgotten and 'lost'
5) Comodity prices fluctuate and mines that were profitable at one point in time may not be later and as the prices fluctuate those mines can become profitable again to mine.

So why hasn't anyone claimed these mines now? Mainly the population wrongly believes there is 'no gold left'! If they only knew the truth the west would be flooded with people. Seriously, there is gold almost everywhere in the west and in places where there has been no history of production and places the old timers never found! The ground the old timers mined still holds gold for many reasons. First, the methods they used were not the best. Second, they were in a hurry to get rich and they looked mostly for the easy gold and threw out the material that held a lot of small gold. Third, they didn't have the ability to process some ores to get the gold. There are books written by people who had first hand accounts of the gold rushes, especially from the Klondike Gold Rush, and they talk about the miners only being interested in the big nuggets of gold and not 'wasting' their time on the small stuff. The women came behind them and picked small gold nuggets out of the 'waste' piles!! Even then that still left a lot of fine gold. Technology and knowledge is on your side now days. We know more and have equipment that will trap the big stuff but also the tiniest pieces even down to minus 400 mesh and smaller. Yes, -400 mesh is so small a single piece of gold that size won't look like gold. But a hundred of them together will!

Also think about the current state of the country and all that is going on, this could be your last chance to own a gold mine - your own bank. We sell a lot of mining claims and everyone tells us how happy they are with them. People first want the gold for the value but once they get out to their own claim they love the freedom they have to work and enjoy the great outdoors. Don't wait, get your own gold mine before it's too late. The Hangman's Gold #14 mine is located in the southwest quarter of section 32. Hangman's Gold #14 claim is about 6200 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 You can drive a full size truck almost to the mine. A short easy walk from the road to the claim.
Tailing Present None. Loose gravels in the dry 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.
Depth / Length Over 600 feet of creek bed gravels. 1320 feet side to side with gold bearing benches.
Minerals in the Mine Historically mined for gold. Minerals of sapphire, garnet, quartz, pyrite, galena, silver, black sands with rare earth minerals would be expected.
Foot traffic at the mine Some
Last Worked Unknown
Number of Mines 1 Placer
Nearest city with amenities Dillon, approximately 19 miles
Access to the Claim A very good dirt road breaks off from the Highway.
Resources Grasses, sage
Structures on claim None
Elevation Aprox. 6200 feet

USGS Information

Economic information about the deposit and operations

Operation TypePlacer
Development StatusPast Producer
Commodity typeMetallic
  • Gold- Primary
Nearby Scientific Data
  • Mississippian, undifferentiated
Rock Type
  • Mississippian, undifferentiated
  • 4,105,659g Au recovered in Banack Area from 1862 - 1950.
References USGS Database - 10400174

Mining District Information


Bannack holds a number of firsts in Montana history. It was the site of the first major gold discovery in the Montana Territory; it was the first territorial capital; it was the first county seat of Beaverhead County; it saw the first lode mining in Montana Territory and it was the location of the first successful dredging operation in the United States. Mining began in 1862 and continues sporadically on a minor scale today. The main periods of mining in the Bannack area were the early placer, hydraulic and lode activity (1862 to 1875) and the dredging of Grasshopper Creek (1895 to 1902).
The mining district is located at the southern end of the Pioneer Mountain Range. The placer workings and adjacent lode claims run for about five miles on both sides of Grasshopper Creek in an area that includes the town of Bannack (Figure 1). Most of the lode mines were concentrated in the area just a mile below Bannack. The creek runs through a narrow canyon with hills rising steeply on both sides of the creek. The hills are, for the most part, barren of trees although the upper ridges have forested areas. The general terrain throughout the area is rugged and mountainous with numerous eroded gulches and drainages. The elevation of the area ranges from 5800 ft along the creek bottom to over 7000 ft on the mountain peaks.
The geology of the Bannack district is described by Winchell (1914) as consisting of Paleozoic limestone intruded by a small stock of granodiorite. Immediately above this limestone layer are a few remnants of the Quadrant quartzite. The principal granodiorite intrusion is nearly circular and is on the south side of Grasshopper Creek south of the town of Bannack. A minor granodiorite intrusion is found on the north side of the creek just west of Bannack. Tertiary deposits, west of Bannack, extend over the surface for a number of miles both to the north and south. The ores found in the Bannack mining district are usually found in contact deposits but some minor ore bodies are in fissures. The ores have been valuable almost solely for their gold content, but they also contain some silver, lead and copper. The ore bodies are generally found along the contact between limestone and granodiorite, or in stringers or small fissures. Large amounts of garnet, with some epidote, are also found along the contact.
Fifty-six years before the Bannack gold rush, Grasshopper Creek was traversed by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Lewis and Clark had split up near the mouth of Lolo Creek and Lewis headed north while Clark descended the east fork of the Bitterroot River, crossed the divide at Gibbon Pass on July 6, 1806 and headed south along a route currently followed by the road from Wisdom to Jackson. The party then traveled down Grasshopper Creek (which they named "Willard's Creek"). They skirted just west of the future Bannack townsite until they reached Horse Prairie Creek. Clark and his men turned east down Horse Prairie Creek to Two Forks [now under the waters of the Clark Canyon Reservoir] where they retrieved a cache and canoes they had left there the year before. From Two Forks they floated down the Beaverhead and Jefferson rivers and out of the region leaving no tangible evidence of their passage except for the account in their journals (Coues 1965).
In the summer of 1862 a party of Colorado men, led by Judge Mortimer H. Lott, made a small strike around July 10th near the head of the Big Hole River. There was a short-lived rush to the area but the strike did not amount to much and one party of Colorado men decided to head back to Deer Lodge. While on their way they stopped to pan the small creek Lewis and Clark had named Willard Creek. On July 28, 1862, John White and William Eades found colors and within a short time they realized they had made a major strike. Since they were unaware that Lewis and Clark had already named the creek, they called it Grasshopper Creek because of the profusion of the insects along the banks. A mining camp quickly sprang up and was named Bannack after the local Indian tribe. By the time winter set in, the rough sprawling camp of Bannack had grown to some 400 persons (Cushman 1973).
Bannack's placer mining period was brief, violent, rich in gold and the source of an equally rich lode of historical legends. More than a ton of gold was taken from the Grasshopper diggings during the first season. Not only were the placer bars easily worked and incredibly rich, they produced some of the purest gold found anywhere in the world. On the average, Bannack gold assayed at 990 fine (99% pure) and in a few cases it went as high as 999 fine - essentially a chemically pure state (Cushman 1973).
By the summer of 1863 the camp had a population of from 3000 to 5000 miners, merchants, gamblers, saloon keepers, prostitutes and outlaws. When the Territory of Montana was established on May 26, 1864, Bannack became the first territorial capital [in 1869 it became the first county seat of Beaverhead County]. During most of 1863, however, there was little in the way of government authority or law enforcement. The sheriff was the notorious Henry Plummer who used his office to cover his leadership of an outlaw gang that systematically robbed and murdered miners and travelers for their gold. His career as an outlaw was cut short by vigilantes on Sunday morning, January 10, 1864, when he was hung from the same gallows he had ordered built to hang a horse thief. Soon after, the remainder of the gang met a similar fate or else were banished and at least a semblance of law and order settled on Bannack (Wolle 1963; Cushman 1973).
By this point Bannack was already starting to decline. New strikes at Alder Gulch in 1863 and Last Chance Gulch in 1864 drained off a large part of Bannack's population. Miners were having problems getting enough water to work the placer deposits while others felt the main placer bars had been worked out -- although it has been estimated that by this point only about seven percent of the area's gold had been taken (Cushman 1973). Bannack's period as a territorial capital was also brief. By the time the first legislature convened in December of 1864, the population center had shifted to the Alder Gulch area and the lawmakers voted to move the capital to Virginia City. However, Bannack continued to produce gold through a variety of mining technologies.
The chronic water shortage for the Grasshopper Creek diggings was partially met by a series of water ditches which were constructed by various companies formed for that purpose. Henry Morley and Jule Pitcher completed the first ditch in May of 1863 while, later that year, the Bannack Mining and Ditch Company built a 15-mile long ditch on the south side of Grasshopper Creek at a cost of $15,000. The north side diggings were supplied with water two years later by a ditch built by M. J. Mandeville, M. J. McDonald and James Doty. The water problem, however, was never adequately solved. Although the ditches did bring a sufficient supply of water to the diggings, the cost of 75 cents a day per miner's inch was too expensive for many of the miners to afford (Wolle 1963).
When hydraulic mining methods were introduced in the late 1860s, even more water was needed. The Bannack Mining and Ditch Company built a 30-mile long ditch in 1867 from Coyote and Painter creeks which carried 1000 inches of water to the bars south and west of Bannack. Later this water would be used to operate six "Little Giants" in hydraulic operations in Buffalo and Humbug gulches. By 1870 three other ditches were constructed which enabled miners to profitably rework much of the abandoned placer ground. By the mid-1870s most of the placer mining operations along the Grasshopper had ended and the population of Bannack had dwindled to just a few hundred persons. Sporadic mining continued around Bannack through either lode or hydraulic operations. One of the more successful efforts during this period was undertaken by the Bon Accord Placer Mining Company in the summer of 1885 with a hydraulic operation a couple of miles down stream from Bannack (Wolle 1963).
The chronic water shortage for the Grasshopper Creek diggings was partially met by a series of water ditches which were constructed by various companies formed for that purpose. Henry Morley and Jule Pitcher completed the first ditch in May of 1863 while, later that year, the Bannack Mining and Ditch Company built a 15-mile long ditch on the south side of Grasshopper Creek at a cost of $15,000. The north side diggings were supplied with water two years later by a ditch built by M. J. Mandeville, M. J. McDonald and James Doty. The water problem, however, was never adequately solved. Although the ditches did bring a sufficient supply of water to the diggings, the cost of 75 cents a day per miner's inch was too expensive for many of the miners to afford (Wolle 1963).

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