Gold and Mineral Mines of Montana

Historic Tinker Jake

20 Acre Placer Claim – Highland District – Silver Bow County, Montana

Tinker Jake 20 Acre Unpatented Placer Gold Mining ClaimPresenting the Historic Tinker Jake Placer Mining Claim for sale, a 20 Acre Unpatented Placer Mining Claim. The claim is located just outside of Whitehall, Montana. MT105290599


This is a remote Montana gold mine. The Tinker Jake Placer Gold Claim offers impressive mining opportunities. An extensive amount of gravel bars 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. Fish Creek runs through the middle of the claim, provides plenty of year round water for all your mining needs. During surveying gold was easily found in the material by panning. The valley bottom is old river bed material. The higher benches also hold old river bed material. The claim boasts excellent access and does get visitors driving through 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. This is a unique claim that is in a valley of old river bed.


There are several fallen giant pine trees along the creek bank; the root masses of these massive trees are ripe for metal detecting. The creek bed is over 600 feet on this claim and there is water year round. 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 good condition. 4-Wheel drive is not recommended but not required. This is not a claim to pass up!


Fish Creek offers a wealth of gravel bars and hard-packed streambed; ideal spots to high-bank, sluice, 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 sluice or highbanker and shovel material right next to it or bring it from the wide valley floor that is the old river bed. There is plenty of opportunity here!


There is direct road access to this claim and room for staging, parking and other operations. This is an unpatented mining claim for sale. Mineral rights only for recreational mining. The land is public land. This is not a homestead or land for sale.


The best gold is on bedrock. Fish Creek is one of the creeks in the district that was mined by hand in the late 1800's. There is still good gold in the creek, benches and on bedrock on this 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
The Tinker Jake 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. But 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'.

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 Tinker Jake mine is located in the southeast quarter of section 25. Tinker Jake 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 to the mine, a 4WD is recommended.
Tailing Present Some. 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.
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, quartz, garnet, 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 Whitehall, approximately 19.5 miles
Access to the Claim A good dirt road breaks off from the Interstate and runs all the way to a USFS Campground. The claim is a short walk from the campground.
Parking and Staging on the Claim Camping and parking is available at the campground.
Resources Year round water, grasses, sage and trees
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
  • Unconsolidated Deposit > Alluvium
  • Glacial drift
References USGS Database - 10107984

Mining District Information

Highland District Information

The discovery of placer diggings along the upper course of Fish Creek in 1866 resulted in the establishment and rapid growth of the town of Highland, near the head of the creek. In 1869 and 1870 Highland was larger than Butte. The placer deposits of Fish Creek are on the east side and within 2 miles of the main Continental Divide between the headwaters of the Missouri. On the slopes of the divide itself several lode claims have been located. Fish Creek, which flows .east, drains the northern slopes of Red Mountain. The.miners on Fish Creek early established the Highland mining district. Some of the placer gold from Highland is remarkable for its purity, running as high as 0.970 fine and coining over $20 an ounce.
The rocks of the Highland district consist.of a series of slates and quartzites underlying a thick limestone, all of which are cut by numerous intrusions of quartz monzonite, diorite, pegmatite, and aplite. The sediments are faulted and displaced repeatedly, and along the northern border of the district they are cut off entirely by the quartz monzonite of the Boulder batholith. Along the road from Butte to Highland and on the steep slopes of the divide the limestone, which is Paleozoic, clearly lies upon the quartz monzoniiie, which is Tertiary.
It is highly probable that the quartz monzonite batholith extends beneath the slates and quartzites as well as beneath the limestone. Indeed, outliers of the batholith cut through the slates on Red and Table mountains and even through those on Camp Creek, still farther from the main mass. In other words, the Highland district is a remnant of the original roof of the batholith, probably near its southeastern border.
In addition to the placers, which are still being worked in a small way, the Highland district contains numerous veins and irregular ore deposits, which are chiefly valuable for gold. The Highland district contains a remarkable variety of minerals. Besides those composing the quartz monzonite, slates, quartzites, and limestones, namely, orthoclase, plagioclase, quartz, hornblende, augite. biotite, muscovite, magnetite, zircon, apatite, titanite, rutile, kaolinite, chlorite, talc, calcite, and dolomite, there are the minerals peculiar to contact metamorphism, such as garnet, zoisite, epidote, diopside, and actinolite; those found especially in pegmatites, such as green mica, tourmaline, and fluorite; those found in oxidized veins and ore deposits, such as malachite, azurite, chrysocolla, cuprite, cerusite, mqntanite, native gold, native silver, hematite, and limonite; and those in sulphide ores, such as chalcopyrite, bornite, galena, pyrite, pyrrhotite, arsenopyrite, tetradymite, argentite, and pyrargyrite. The rarest mineral in the list is montanite, which is a basic tellurate of bismuth reported by Genth 1 as occurring in crusts on tetradymite at Highland.
On July 25, 1866, E.B. and J.B.S. Coleman and William Crawford discovered placer gold in Fish Creek on the north side of Red Mountain. As miners rushed to the area, the Highland district was soon organized and, to the west, the Moose Creek mines opened up. The camps in this district produced purer gold than the placer diggings on Silver Bow Creek. The principal producing stream was Fish creek. The placer deposits were worked heavily during the first few years, and the richest deposits were soon exhausted (Sahinen 1935; Lyden 1948; Wolle 1963).
The two mining towns of the district, Highland City and Red Mountain City, each boasted populations of over a thousand people during the boom days. By the summer of 1867 Red Mountain City was larger than Butte and was recognized as the largest settlement in southern Deer Lodge County. Red Mountain City was so close to Highland City, that in time they were often thought of as one. Red Mountain City had a water system consisting of hydrants and pipes, made from ten-foot long green logs through which a hole was bored (Wolle 1963).
Two early pioneers who stayed in the area were Ron D. Leggat and John Kern. Leggat built a flume to his placer and worked it until the gold ran out. He then changed to hydraulic mining of the hillsides. As other miners moved on, Leggat would buy up their claims and rework them with his hydraulic setup. By 1885 Leggat had consolidated many of the claims in the upper Fish Creek and Basin drainages. In 1895, Leggat sold out to the Butte Water Company for $160,000. Leggat's properties were purchased as the water company sought to protect the source of Butte's water.
The Great Depression saw an increase in placer mining in the Highlands. After the price of gold was raised to $35 per ounce, individuals from the nearby metropolis of Butte headed to the hills to supplement their incomes. Individuals also reopened lode mines. One such, the Ballarat, was relocated by a Mr. Brooks after being idle for decades.
The Highlands never rated as a major mining region even though an estimated $1,000,000 was recovered from it between 1866 and 1875, and an additional $1,299,533 from 1904 to 1963 (Wolle 1963).
In addition to placers, which are still worked in a small way, the district has many veins and irregular ore deposits, valued chiefly for their gold content. The Murphy mine, at the head of the main fork of Fish Creek, is in Paleozoic limestone. The ore occurs in veins, joints, and chimneys, and although not directly on the contact, is said to be of contact origin. The veins are irregular and occasionally faulted, the largest strikes east and dips about 80 degrees north (Sahinen 1935).
The Highland placer was patented by Roderick D. Leggat in the 1880s. It was surveyed in 1884; the map showed various cabins, ditches, and excavated areas along Fish Creek. Leggat consolidated many of the smaller claims as miners left the district in the 1870s. The 140-acre claim was sold to the Butte Water Company in 1895 as part of the company's efforts to protect the city's water supply (Fredlund 1989).
Most of the mines and prospects in these districts explore gold-bearing quartz veins and siliceous replacement deposits in the Meagher Limestone or placer deposits derived from them. The descriptions of the principal mines, like the Butte-Highlands mine in the Fish Creek district suggest extensive metamorphism associated with the emplacement of the Boulder batholith, and widespread hydrothermal alteration accompanying mineralization. The region also is complexly folded and faulted, and the sedimentary rocks have not been studied in much detail, so that lateral changes in thickness and lithology in Middle Cambrian rocks, like those in the Tobacco Root Mountains, cannot be recognized in the published descriptions. But even though the structural and stratigraphic setting is not well known., and the gold deposits seem to be hydrothermal, the unusual abundance of gold in the Meagher Limestone here, and it relative absence in other rocks in and around the Boulder batholith in this part of the Highland Mountains, suggests that the gold was locally derived from the Meagher, and redeposited in the complex hydrothermal veins and replacement deposits of these mining districts. If so, the abundant gold in the Moosetown and Fish Creek districts might originally have been concentrated in the Meagher by the sedimentary and diagenetic processes inferred to have concentrated gold in Middle Cambrian rocks in the Tobacco Root Mountains.
Placer gold and silver deposits in the Dillon quadrangle are assessed in map I-1803—F. Placer deposits have been the main source of gold, and they are numerous in the quadrangle. Placer mining in the quadrangle began in 1862, and it continues. Most of the placering has taken place along small to medium-sized streams, either in Holocene alluvium on the present flood plains or in bench placers that are locally more than 100 ft above present stream levels. In addition, some eluvial deposits have been mined from slopes directly below lode deposits.
Other sedimentary deposits that are considered are the Tertiary deposits in basins. During the late Tertiary, uplift of mountainous parts of the quadrangle was rapid. The resulting rapid erosion caused debris to be moved from the uplands out into the developing basins. Wherever gold-bearing lodes were eroded during this period, gold might have been transported to a site in the basin (most probably a site along the edge of the basin and not far from the lodes) and concentrated into placer deposits. Placer mining of such deposits has taken place only to a limited degree, but the possible existence of such deposits is inferred, and an attempt is made to delineate areas where such deposits may occur.

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