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
California Creek Gold
The Last Buffalo Mine is in an area with rich gold mining history. Estimates by Lyden (1948, p. 98-103) suggest that placer production before 1904 may have exceeded 120,000 ounces. As with all old mines and mining districts in the Western U.S., the old timers NEVER got it all!
Harris Creek is a west flowing tributary of the Ruby River... California Creek is one of the more important tributaries od Harris Creek.
Discovered soon after the first great ruch into Alder Gulch, the placers of Harris creek and its tributaries have been active ever since. Few seasons have passed without claims being worked. The total production of the placers has not been determined. In 1941 on California Creek recovery was about 115 ounces of gold. (Lyden, 1948, p. 56)
California Creek Gold
Giant Gold Nuggets From A Montana Gulch
Three Reported Found, the Biggest Weighing Forty-two Pounds, and Worth $10,000.
Special the The New York Times.
HELENA,. Mon. Jan. 25. - A forty-two-pound gold nugget worth upward of $10,000 is reported to have been found in California Gulch, in Madison County. The nugget is said to be the largest of the three found at the same time by Thomas Ramon and Joseph Lefebre.
Ramon deposited at the United States Assay Office at Helena two weeks ago a gold nugget weighing 84.48 ounces, worth $1,440. This nugget was about the size of a man's fist, and was of solid gold, containing only 5 percent waste.
At the time this nugget was deposited at the Assay Office, a syndicate of Helena men, among them Assayer Tatem, was organized to purchase the nugget and use it for exhibition at the World's Fair at St. Louis. Although Ramon was willing to take $1,350 for it. $90 less than the nugget was actually worth in gold, the syndicate didn't take it, there being some question as to Ramon's title to the nugget.
Suit has been begun by Dennis Hurley owner of the placer mining ground in California Gulch which Ramon and Lefebre's property was attached, claiming that $3,000 was due Hurley on gold Ramon and Lefebre had not reported or paid a royalty.
Ramon and Lefebre are said to have deposited with the Elling Bank at Virginia City 500 ounces of gold dust supposed to be the big nugget cut up and hammered so as to resemble the gold found at Alder Gulch.(New York Times, Jan. 26, 1902)
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.|
|Total Workings||Over 1,215 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, garnets, black sands with rare earth minerals are known in to be in the ground.
|Foot traffic at the mine||Some|
|Number of Mines||1 Placer|
|Nearest city with amenities||Sheridan, approximately 6 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
Economic information about the deposit and operations
|Development Status||Past Producer|
Silver - Tertiary
|Nearby Scientific Data||Pre-Belt gneiss, schist, and related rocks|
|References||USGS Database - 10270519, 10019737, 10173429, 10270635|
Mining District Information
|The Sheridan district, in the heart of the Ruby Valley, includes the smaller sub-districts of Wisconsin Creek, Mill Creek, Brandon (near mouth of Mill Creek), Mill Creek (near the upper portion of Mill Creek), Quartz Hill (between Mill and Mill Creeks), and Ramshorn and Bivins gulches, and California Gulch (Winchell 1914; Sahinen 1935).|
|Placer gold was discovered in Ramshorn and Bivins gulches soon after the discovery of gold at Virginia City. Below the forks of Wisconsin Creek, the stream gravels have been worked with hydraulic giants. In the Ramshorn district placering began in the 1860s and continued on the upper stream until the second decade of the Twentieth century (Winchell 1914).|
|Within a year of the district's placer discoveries, many gold-bearing quartz veins were located. The Company mine in Williams Gulch, was opened in 1864, the ore being treated locally in stamp mills and arrastras. The Branham mill, for which Mill Creek and the Mill district were named, was crushing ore in 1865. The Whittacker mill was located in the Quartz Hill district in 1869. The 1880's saw arrastras become the favored mode of ore reduction. Later, during the 1890's, the ore from some of the mines was treated in stamp and cyanide mills. The most important producers were the Noble, Red Pine, Fairview, Smuggler, and Betsy Baker lodes (Swallow 1891; Winchell 1914; Sahinen 1935).|
|The district is composed of ore deposits related to underlying or nearby granitic masses, although some are apparently related to dikes. Ore deposits occur as veins (fissure fillings) and as replacements in limestone. The primary minerals are pyrite, arsenopyrite, chalcopyrite, sphalerite, and galena in a gangue of quartz and rarely siderite. Gold and silver occur in the ore (Winchell 1914; Sahinen 1935).|
|The town of Sheridan, on the Alder branch of the Northern Pacific Railway, is a supply point for several mining districts in the neighboring gulches of the Tobacco Root Mountains. As here used, the Sheridan district includes the Wisconsin district, on Wisconsin Creek; the Indian district, on Indian Creek; the Brandon district, near the mouth of Mill Creek Gulch; the Mill Creek district, covering the upper portion of Mill Creek Gulch; the Quartz Hill district, a knob terminating a ridge between Mill Creek and Indian Creek; the Ramshorn district, along Ramshorn Gulch; and the Bivin district, along Bivin Gulch. As thus defined the Sheridan district extends 10 miles north of Sheridan at the upper end of Wisconsin Creek and 10 miles east of Sheridan at the upper end of Ramshorn Gulch. Except for Bivin Gulch and the lower end of Ramshprn Gulch a triangle made by connecting these two points with Sheridan outlines the area. Elevations in the district vary from about 5,500 feet to more than 10,000 feet above sea level.|
|The Sheridan district is very close to Alder Gulch, which was one of the first centers of mining activity in Montana. Within a year after the discovery of gold in Alder Gulch in 1863 quartz veins were located in the Sheridan district. The Company mine, on Wisconsin Creek, was opened in 1864; the Branham mill was erected on Mill Creek (which thus obtained its name) in 1865. This mill had 12 stamps of 500 pounds each, and a capacity of 12 tons a day; it was driven by water power at a cost of operation of about $2 a ton. The gold was caught on tables and 'blankets. In 1869 the Whittacker mill was running in the Quartz Hill district. It had three light stamps and crushed ore yielding $15 to $18 per, ton in gold. During the seventies the favorite mode of treating gold ores was by means of arrastres. About 1883 the Company mine was sold to the Noble Mining & Milling Co., which operated it on a rather large scale for nearly 10 years. The Leiter mine, on Wisconsin Creek, about 8 miles from Sheridan, was equipped with an aerial tramway, stamp mill, and cyanide plant, and was in active operation during the later part of the nineties. During the last decade the most extensive operations in the district have been carried on at the Toledo and Lake Shore properties.|
|The Sheridan district contains placers that have been productive and are still worked in a few localities.|
|The Sheridan district has yielded a regular production of metal annually since about 1865, and it may be expected to continue productive for many years to come. Unfortunately no statistics of production are now available for the years 1864 (when the Company mine, on Wisconsin Creek, was opened.) to 1904. During a large part of this period the average annual production was probably several times as great as it has been in recent years. The statistics for the years 1905 to 1912, given below, have been compiled from the records of the United States Geological Survey.|
|Production from 1905-1912: Ore - 10,490 Tons, Gold - 6,907 ozt., Silver - 32,424 ozt., Copper - 17,874 Lbs., Lead - 117,942 Lbs.|
|In these placer mines were found nuggets of gold which contained more or less of quartz and masses of quartz which contained particles and nuggets of gold.|
|These placers have been worked for a quarter of a century and they are still giving up their golden treasures to those who continue to work them.|
|The Stinking Water and its tributaries, the Ruby, Bevins, Wisconsin, Ramshorn, Sheridan, California creek, Goodrich, Georgia and Indian, have extensive placers still awaiting that enterprise and skill which brings improved methods of extracting the gold. On all the streams and gulches above named as containing placers, quartz veins have been discovered from which the ancient glaciers ground the gold deposited by the waters in the placers of bench, bar and river channel. The prospector's pick and shovel have revealed quartz veins on nearly every hill-side and mountain slope.|
|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. They didn't restrict themselves to only these two towns. They spread out and covered a large area around the towns knowing that the surrounding creeks were also loaded with gold bearing ground and miners working the ground.|
|California Creek was one of the creeks the Innocents were always keeping an eye on and would rob the miners regularly.|
|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 Sheridan mines have long been known as producers. More than twenty years ago the Branham mill was pounding out the free gold from the surface ores ...|
|The output of the Madison County mines for the year 1890 has been estimated at $2,500,000 which is probably too low. It has been difficult to get facts on which to base a full estimate.|
|Telluride of gold has been found in the mines around Sheridan.|
Sheridan, MT 59749
- Lot Size15 Acres
- Type Placer
Sheridan, MT 59749
- Lot Size15 Acres
- Type Placer
Valley Gold 3
Gold Creek, MT 59733
- Lot Size20 Acres
- Type Placer