Gateways to Wonderland 

Jardine, Mont.

Gold Mining on the Edge of Yellowstone

Copyright 2020 by Robert V. Goss. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by an information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.

Bear Gulch Mining, Jardiner Montana, Bear Creek Montana

Undated photo of the Bear Gulch Mining District  -  Jardine, Montana.  Note the row of houses along Bear Creek at far right. Mineral Hill is center, with the main mill below.

The quaint small village of Jardine, Montana, was never considered a Gateway to Yellowstone National Park by any means. However, it was an important part of local history, and  an economic boom for Gardiner, Cinnabar, and the Northern Pacific RR.The mining history is quite complicated and involved, so only the basics are discussed in this narrative. More extensive information may be obtained from the sources at the bottom of the page. 

"and finding also a hairless cub, called the gulch Bear.”

Eugene S. Topping, in his Chronicles of the Yellowstone, a classic and important history of the greater Yellowstone Valley written in 1885, claimed that in 1863 a group of thirty miners lead by George Huston prospected their way up the Yellowstone River from the mining community of Emigrant Gulch and continued past Soda Butte toward what later became the New World mining district. Attacked by Indians who ran off all their horses, the prospectors cached their excess supplies and continued afoot toward Clark’s Fork with one lone jackass. Finding a few prospects, but no pay, they returned back along the Yellowstone. Topping related that, “On the way they found fair prospects in a creek on the east side of the Yellowstone, and finding also a hairless cub, called the gulch Bear.” Even though today the creek goes by the name Bear Creek, the name Bear Gulch, also referred to as the Sheepeater District, still identifies the classic mining areas around the town of Jardine, Montana.

E.S. Topping, Eugene S. Topping
Joe Brown
George Huston, George A. Huston

Left:  Eugene S. Topping, author of "Chronicles of the Yellowstone."

CenterJoe Brown, one of the discoverers and developers of gold in Bear Gulch.

Right:  George A. Huston, one of the discoverers of gold in Bear Gulch, and a founding Father of Cooke City.

Sporadic prospecting around Bear Gulch continued uneventfully the next few years after Huston’s journey until Joe Brown and partners John Zimmerer, Dan Royer, and an unknown man struck rich, gold-bearing gravel in 1866 on a bar at the mouth of Bear Gulch, as it empties into the Yellowstone River. They staked a claim and reportedly took out $8,000 in gold. News traveled quickly in the mining communities and in 1867, Lou Anderson, A.H. Hubble, George W. Reese, Caldwell, and another man discovered gold in a crevice at the mouth of the first stream above Bear Gulch, and named it Crevice Gulch. That same year George Huston returned to the area and built a cabin on Turkey Pen Flats across the Yellowstone River from Bear Gulch. Living on land that later became part of Yellowstone National Park, Huston’s cabin is believed to be the first white residence in Yellowstone.

Placer miner, gold miner, 49'er

Historic illustrations of early gold mining. At top is a rocker that separated the gold flakes from the gravel, which was afterward panned out. At bottom is an arrastra that used a mule to drag a heavy stone over the ore to crush it, which could then be panned or separated from the host rocks.

Meanwhile, placer mining was conducted on gravel bars along the creek, or in ancient channel deposits accessed by tunnels or drifts into the hillsides. During the years 1875-77, Joe Brown and other miners built over 3000 feet of ditch to carry water to the various gravel bars they were working. In either 1870 or 1874, depending on sources, Joe Brown and James Graham discovered quartz gold deposits in upper Bear Gulch on a hill later known as Mineral Hill. Although not developed for several years, the Bozeman Times reported in July 1877 that Wm. Heffner, Joe Brown, and James Graham were successfully crushing ore with a crudely-built, mule-drawn device known as an arrastra, based on a primitive design from the early Spanish and Mexican miners. The paper also noted that George Huston and Stoker Henderson would have their arrastra operating by October.

Gold mining arrastra, arrastra

Hard rock mining digs in . . .

 

Hard rock mining escalated in 1878 when Z.H. “Zed” Daniels and three other men began working a quartz lead on Bear Gulch and built an arrastra to process their ore. In July the Bozeman Times reported that George Huston, Jimmy Dewings, and Joe Brown discovered a “fine gold lead . . . [that] panned out one dollar to the pound of rock.” A later article described a 9-foot vein with free gold running through it; a 4-ton run through the arrastra yielded $50 per ton. In 1879 the following mines were recorded at Bear Gulch: Legal Tender (Joe Brown); The Wonder of the World (Beattie, Anderson, and Lovely); The James Graham Lode; Joe Brown & Graham; The Monitor; The Mountain Bride; The Coan & McCauley Lode; The Mountain Chief (Geo. Huston); The Champion Lode; The Summit Lode; The Great Western; Mountain Chief (Brown, Huston, & Graham); and the Home Stake.

Various newspapers touted the richness and auspicious future of both Bear Gulch and Crevice Gulch, where similar successes and operations were occuring. The Bismarck Tribune in May of 1879 claimed, “The belief is that erelong Bear Gulch is destined to become one of the richest camps in the Territory.”  In April of that year a new town site was being laid out with corner lots going up, a harbinger of anticipated stability and prosperity. Outside investors were now beginning to see the potential of Bear Gulch and as a sign of things to come, George Huston and Dewings sold a third of one of their claims for $3500. Huston went on to concentrate his efforts in the New World Mining District, amassed dozens of claims, and became one of the original founders of Cooke City.

Bear Gulch Montana, Crevice Gulch, Jardine Montana

Article from the Bozeman Avant-Courier, 22May1879, touting the wonders of the riches of the Bear and Crevice Gulches

Major Eaton and the Bear Gulch Placer Co.

In 1882 Major George O. Eaton and a man named Sturgess formed the Bear Gulch Placer Co. and filed articles of incorporation in Gallatin County with capital of $40,000. Eaton bought out Brown’s Legal Tender mine and over the next few years purchased other mining properties. His crews tunneled into the canyon walls following old river channels in search for placer gold. Eaton also began hydraulic mining in 1884 on Joe Brown’s 40-acre placer claim on Bear Creek; about three miles below what would later become the town of Jardine. Installing equipment served by 1200 feet of 12-inch pipe with a vertical drop of 400 feet through a six-inch nozzle, it was reported to be the most powerful hydraulic placer operation in the world. Blasting away huge sections of the canyon walls in the quest for auriferous bounty, Eaton realized few riches from his efforts and left a scarred landscape, still visible to this day.

Hydraulic Mining, Bear Gulch placer mining, Bear Gulch, F. Jay Haynes

Hydraulic mining is a form of mining that uses high-pressure jets of water to dislodge rock material or move sediment. In the placer mining of gold or tin, the resulting water-sediment slurry is directed through sluice boxes to remove the gold. Hydraulic mining developed from ancient Roman techniques that used water to excavate soft underground deposits. Its modern form, using pressurized water jets produced by a nozzle called a "monitor", came about in the 1850s during the California Gold Rush in the United States. Though successful in extracting gold-rich minerals, the widespread use of the process resulted in extensive environmental damage, such as increased flooding and erosion, and sediment blocking waterways and covering farm fields.

"Placer Mining in Bear Gulch, Montana.

Scenery Along the Northern Pacific Railroad

F. Jay Haynes, Publisher, Fargo, D.T."

The inscription reads: 

"Compliments Eaton
His Mines(?)
The little Giant engine
My Father and I visited the scene"

(Author unknown)

Hydraulic mining woodcut, hydraulic mining

View of Bear Gulch in 1884.

The town grew up along both sides of Bear Creek.

[Courtesy Montana Memory]

Changing direction, Eaton built the first quartz mill in Bear Gulch, a five-stamp combination mill to process the oxidized ores from the various lode claims. The mill operated successfully for about two years, but shut down around 1886 due to internal company dissention and the difficulty in hauling ore to the Cinnabar railhead. Minimal organized mining efforts occurred until 1890 when the firm of E.D. Edgerton and W.E. Jewell of Helena took over the operation and added five stamps to the mill. Operating successfully for three years, the operation was shutdown during the Panic of 1893 and the resulting economic depression.

Bear Gulch, Jardine Montana

Changing direction, Eaton built the first quartz mill in Bear Gulch, a five-stamp combination mill to process the oxidized ores from the various lode claims. The mill operated successfully for about two years, but shut down around 1886 due to internal company dissention and the difficulty in hauling ore to the Cinnabar railhead. Minimal organized mining efforts occurred until 1890 when the firm of E.D. Edgerton and W.E. Jewell of Helena took over the operation and added five stamps to the mill. Operating successfully for three years, the operation was shutdown during the Panic of 1893 and the resulting economic depression.

A new town takes shape . . .

By 1895 a few businesses had been established, including a hotel, sample room, general store, and four log cabin residences belonging to George Welcome and two other men. In 1895 a new post office was been established at Crevasse with Mrs. M.E. Cowell as postmistress and on Dec. 9, 1898 the community of Bear Gulch became known as Jardine, when the post office was established with J. B. McCarthy as postmaster. This gentleman also had a general store, while other businesses in town included a hotel, saloon and barber shop. Additional business enterprises followed later in the summer.

The hotel in Bear Gulch went into bankruptcy in 1896 and was purchased by Cinnabar businessman W.A. Hall. It came into the possession of John Jervis at some point and was known as the Jervis Hotel. The Anaconda Standard reported on Oct. 31, 1898 that, “John Jervis, a recent arrival from Victoria, B. C. secured a license, Tuesday, to open a saloon at Bear Gulch. Mr. Jervis is interested with Helena parties in mining property in that district.”  Walter Hoppe leased the Bear Gulch Hotel from Jervis in September 1899, and operated the hotel until about 1905, whereupon it reverted back to Jarvis.

Bear Gulch Hotel. Jardine Hotel, Jardine Montana
Bear Gulch Hotel. Jardine Hotel, Jardine Montana
Bear Gulch Hotel. Jardine Hotel, Jardine Montana
Bear Gulch Hotel. Jardine Hotel, Jardine Montana

Top Right:  Ad for the Bear Gulch Hotel in Jardine ca1900.

[R.L. Polk Directory]

Bottom Right:  "Hotel of Walter M. Hoppe, Bear Gulch," ca1899.

[Livingston Enterprise Souvenir, 1Jan1900]

Left:  Bear Gulch Hotel in Jardine ca1903.

[Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR]

Right: Bear Gulch Hotel, ca1903.

[Underwood &  Underwood stereoview]

A correspondent writing from the town about the middle of October 1907, stated that 100 buildings were then in existence or in course of construction, and that the mining company contemplated the erection of thirty more cottages. At its peak the town boasted of a population of 500-600 souls. A Cultural Resource Survey of the area conducted in 1982 claimed that, “Within a year [1898-99] there were 130 new buildings, including two hotels, three mercantile establishments, office buildings, a mine company office, a guest house, a school and work started on a new mill. A water system and telephone service soon followed.” A hydroelectric dam was built on Bear Creek in 1903 near the mouth of the creek that produced electricity to the mines, businesses and residents of the Jardine area until 1948.

A correspondent writing from the town about the middle of October 1907, stated that 100 buildings were then in existence or in course of construction, and that the mining company contemplated the erection of thirty more cottages. At its peak the town boasted of a population of 500-600 souls. A Cultural Resource Survey of the area conducted in 1982 claimed that, “Within a year [1898-99] there were 130 new buildings, including two hotels, three mercantile establishments, office buildings, a mine company office, a guest house, a school and work started on a new mill. A water system and telephone service soon followed.” A hydroelectric dam was built on Bear Creek in 1903 near the mouth of the creek that produced electricity to the mines, businesses and residents of the Jardine area until 1948.

F. Jay Dean

Bear Gulch Lodge No. 76, A.O.U.W.

Jardine, Mont., 1901

[Author's Collection]

F. Jay Dean, Bear Gulch Lodge, Jardine Montana
F. Jay Dean, Bear Gulch, Jardine Montana
George Welcome, Jardine Montana

Left: Ad for George Welcome, with stores in Horr, Aldridge, & Jardine.

[Gardiner Wonderland, 21Aug1902]

Right: Ad for the F.J. Dean general merchandise store in Jardine

[Gardiner Wonderland, 17Jul1902]

John Bechtell Token, Jardine Montana token
Jardine Montana E.D. Mathews Token
L.B. Hoppe, Lee. B. Hoppe, Jardine Montana
Jardine Montana, Forrester's Bar Token, Forresters Bar
Bear Gulch Hotel Token, Bear Gulch Hotel, Jardine Montana
Bear Gulch Hotel Token, Jardine Montana
Jardine Montana, Miners Tavern Token, Miner's Tavern

A New Mining Era Begins - 1899-1948 . . .

By 1895 a few mines and two stamp mills were again in operation. In the midst of the mining operations, despite promising discoveries by Uncle Joe Brown and others, the community remained relatively quiet until 1898, when the arrival of Harry Bush, a native of England and active in the South African mines, arrived and inaugurated a new era in Bear Gulch. Backed in part by Canadian capitalists, he secured a lease on the Legal Tender mine and the Edgerton & Jewell properties on Mineral Hill. Bush organized the Bear Gulch Mining Company in August, 1898, and began buying additional claims that included the Sowash mine on the same vein as the Legal Tender, the Revenue from George Phelps, and five mines from George Welcome. Bush enlarged the Eaton mill to twenty stamps, attracted additional investors, and laid out the townsite of Jardine. New businesses developed and the mining district boomed. With the beginning of the 20th Century close in sight, a new epoch was emerging that would experience the cyclic triumphs and failures, joys and sorrows, so typical of the mining industry.

 

"In March of 1899, Bush laid the foundation for his Revenue (Red) stamp mill, with a ground area of 93 x 120 feet and a height of 103 feet. The foundation of this building contained six hundred perch (perch = 1 cu.yd.) of stone and required 400,000 feet of lumber . . . a five hundred foot tramway ran from the mine to the mill and discharged into a Cammett crusher which pushed it into a 500-ton pocket. The ore was then fed into eight batteries of five stamps each by eight automatic feeders. Eight plates then caught the free gold. This mill was finished in December of 1899 and Bush celebrated with a Christmas party at which 700 guests were entertained by a twelve piece orchestra and fed roasted buffalo.” [Cultural Resource Inventory and Evaluation Project – Jardine, 1982]

    “[Bush] resolved to give Jardine a Christmas which would linger in the minds of those who attended for years. Accordingly, arrangements were made for a grand banquet in the Revenue Mill on Christmas Day. Mrs. Bush was given charge of the arrangements, and the success which attended the affair is a splendid commentary upon the ability of Mrs. Bush as an entertainer and is a fact showing that Hurry Bush is not the only person in Bear Gulch who makes no mistakes in laying plans.The scene of the banquet was the machine shop of the Revenue Mill, the room being vacant on account of the machinery not yet having arrived. The room was decorated in a manner that rendered it a perfect bower of loveliness. The roof was a solid bank of evergreens, dotted hene and there with electric lights of various hues. Bunting of national colors swung in graceful folds around the room, and the most exquisite cut flowers lent their delightful perfume and beauty to the scene.

Harry Bush, Harry & Ada Bush, Jardine Montana

Harry & Ada Bush

[Livingston Enterprise Souvenir, 1Jan1900]

The tables were laid for 100 persons and were profusely decorated. At 6 o'clock the banquet began, and it was 10 o'clock before the guests who had assembled to enjoy the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Bush … The menu abounded in delicacies, and every luxury in the line of edibles that could be found in the market graced the tables. As a reminder of early days in Montana, a buffalo had been purchased by Mr. Bush. The juicy steaks and tender roasts of the monarch of the plains in days gone by contributed a share of the feast. Elk and deer, fowl of every description, and products of the salt seas and of the clear waters of the Yellowstone River w ere there in generous abundance. The best of everything was none too good for the guest assembled at the banquet, and it is safe to say that no greater enjoyment was ever had by any crowd than was furnished Christmas Day to the assemblage at Jardine.

    After the banquet was over, an orchestra of eleven pieces furnished music for the promenade and, as the first strains of the grand march swelled forth, the entire machinery of the Revenue Mill was set in gentle motion. Mr. and Mrs. Harry Bush led the march and, to the dropping of the stamps, the host of guests were conducted through every floor of the vast structure, winding the various rooms until the starting point was again reached: then a quadrille was formed. The remainder of the evening was most pleasantly spent and the breaking up of the assembly marked the close of the greatest social event ever held in Montana.”

[Anaconda Standard, 31Dec1899]

“However, during this period, Harry Bush struggled with problems obtaining ore with sufficient value to run since his most productive mines were tied up in litigation. He continued to process low-grade ore in his mill and problems with other members of the Bear Gulch Mining Company developed. A split in the Bear Gulch Mining Company developed and Bush broke away and formed the Revenue Mining Company, incorporated in Helena on June 21, 1899 . . . By the summer of 1899, Bear Gulch, now renamed Jardine, had two distinct mining groups operating in opposition to each other. These were the old Bear Gulch Mining Company, still under the direction of A. C. Jardine, and the new Bush Company.”  [Cultural Resource Inventory and Evaluation Project – Jardine, 1982]

In early 1900 creditors began to press Bush for payments on his huge debt load. After much wheeling and dealing, and many negotiations Bush was forced into bankruptcy. On August 18, 1900, Bush's properties including the Revenue Mill, 72,000 shares of Bear Gulch Mining Company stock, 275,000 shares of King Solomon Quartz and Placer Company stock, electric light plant, water plant, guest house and mine office buildings, were sold at auction in Livingston, with the First National Bank of Butte the new owner. The short reign of 'King Harry' rapidly came to an end. In the fall, new directors of the Bear Gulch Mining Company were elected with A.C. Jardine, B.C. VanHouten, and Andrew J. Davis representing Montana, while Alfred C. Blair, W.H. Barnaby, and W.G. Merritt from St. John, New Brunswick and mining and milling resumed.

Bear Gulch Mill, Revenue Stamp Mill, Jardine Montana
Bear Gulch Mill, Revenue Stamp Mill, Jardine Montana
Revenue Mine, Revenue Mine Tramway, Bear Gulch Mine, Jardine Montana

Top Left & Right: Construction of the Revenue stamp mill in Jardine.

Bottom Left:  Construction of the Revenue Mine Tramway.

Bottom Right: Completed construction of the Revenue Stamp Mill

[All photos ca1899, from Livingston Enterprise Souvenir, 1Jan1900]]

Revenue Stamp Mill, Revenue Mill, Jardine Montana

Meanwhile, a collection of local Bear Gulch mining people created a new mining company, as per the Anaconda Standard, Jan. 26, 1903.

“NEW COMPANY IN BEAR GULCH

Will Carry On a General Mining and Milling Business, Says Articles of Incorporation.

The Livingston Post says that a new mining company has been organized for the purpose of operating in the Sheepeater district of Park county. It is known as the Bear Gulch company, the incorporators being Alex Livingston of Livingston and George Welcome, John Jervis, Frank Ackelmire and H D. Andrews of Jardine. These gentlemen are also the directors. The company has a capital stock of $500,000, divided Into 500,000 shares at a par value of $1 each. Of this stock only a small number of shares has so far been subscribed for, the present holders being Messrs. Livingston, Ackelmlre, Welcome, Andrews, Jervis, A.J. Campbell of Butte, and S.H. Crookes of Livingston. The stock is non-assessable.”

By March, the new operation was bought out by the Kimberly-Montana Gold Mining Company, operated by a syndicate from Chicago. It was reported that a new 40-stamp mill was being constructed in concert with the soon-to-be completed cyanide plant operation, bringing a total of 80 stamps under the company’s direction. The new management consisted of: P. L. Kimberly, William H. Barnaby, John H. Thompson, Moise Dreyfus, H. M. Ryan, Samuel Deutsch and Miles Finlen.

Jardine Cyanide Mill, Cyanide Mill, Jardine Montana

Cyanide Mill in Jardine, 1908

[University of Montana, Missoula]

Bear Gulch, Bear Gulch Montana

Scene in Bear Gulch, 1899

[Montana Memory Project]

Jardine Mill Fire, Cyanide Mill fire, Jardine Montana

Jardine Cyanide Mill Burns

[Billings Gazette,14May1948]

The Jardine Gold Mining & Milling Co. takes over . . .


In 1914 the Jardine Gold Mining & Milling Co. was formed to take control of the Jardine gold mines and was renamed the Jardine Mining Co. in 1921. By 1906 tungsten was being mined and milled by the various mining properties. The mineral was found in scheelite, a combination of tungsten and lime, occurring mostly in pockets. Wolframite is tungsten and iron, occurring in regular veins. Tungsten ore ran between $1000 to $1200 per ton, making it more valuable than silver. Mining activity was interrupted by an extended period of litigation from 1909 to 1916 and the mines operated continuously from 1923-26 and 1932-36 producing gold, arsenic and tungsten, but tended to operate off and on until 1948.

Operations were temporarily suspended in 1942 because of the Federal restrictions on gold mining, but increasing war demands for arsenic led to the reopening of the mines in 1944, which operated until May 8, 1948, when fire destroyed the cyanide plant and the mines closed down in July. High shipping costs of arsenic ore were claimed as a reason for the mining shutdown. About 90 men were abruptly thrown out of work.

 

Production figures from 1899 -1942 indicate that over 155,000 ounces of gold, 27,000+ ounces of silver, 4,000+ ounces of copper, 765,000+ pounds of tungsten and 12,615,000 tons of arsenic were produced. Perhaps an additional 40,000 ounces of gold were produced 1944-48.

Jardine Mine Close, Jardine Mill, Jardine Montana

News article about the closing of the Jardine Mine.

[Butte Montana Standard, 5Aug1948]

Main Street Jardine, Jardine Montana, Jardine Montana Main St.

Downtown Jardine, ca1930s

[Montana Memory Project]

Jardine Mine Office, Jardine Montana

The Mine Office in Jardine, ca1940s. The building still stands and was used as the mine office during the Mineral Hill Mine era in the 1980-90s.

[Library of Congress]

Entering the modern age of gold mining . . .

 

In 1988 a new era in gold production began when TVX Gold, Inc. of Canada began mining efforts with tunnel/adit development, mill and crusher construction and pre-production activities such as erection of administrative and lab facilities. After much controversy regarding potential environment hazards of a mine so close to Yellowstone and potential pollution of the Yellowstone River fromm Bear Creek, permitting was finally approved and gold production officially began in September of 1889 at the 556-acre Mineral Hill site. The mine operated successfully until early Sept. 1996, when problems of access to new ore bodies dwindling ore supplies from existing workings caused the facility to close and about 130 workers were permanently laid off. Since closure, TVX has removed surface buildings and attempted to restore the area to a natural condition. Treatment of water draining through the tailings pile and from the tunnels continues to be processed to this day. The mine was located two miles from Yellowstone's boundary, five miles by road from Gardiner and produced about 40,000 ounces of gold a year for an approximate total of 260,000 ounces.

 

Mineral Hill Mine, Jardine Belt Buckle,Jardine Montana

Today the community supports a small population of about 50 souls and and a few businesses such as outfitting, fishing & hunting guides, and vacation rentals. It is a popular area for hiking, biking, horse riding, skiing, and snowmobiling enthusiasts.

Commemorative belt buckle given to employees to celebrate the opening of Mineral Hill Mine on September 26, 1989

[From the author's collection]

Jardine Gold Mine, Mineral Hill Mine, Jardine Mine Opens, Jardine Montana
Jardine Mine Closes, Jardine Mine, Mineral Hill Mine, Jardine Montana

Left: Article discussing the opening of Mineral Hill Mine in September 1989.  [Great Falls Tribune, 23Sep1989]

Top:  The closing down of TVX Mineral Hill Mine in September 1996, after only about 7 years of operation.  [The Missoulian, 5Sep1996]

Below:  Current view of Bear Gulch and Jardine looking toward Yellowstone Park.

Jardine Montana, Bear Creek Montana,