Gold Rush Expeditions, Inc. is proud to present the Historic Elkhorn & Extension Gold Mining Claims for sale. A collection of two (2), twenty(20) acre lode mining claims, for sale exclusively through Gold Rush Expeditions, Inc. These claims are located just outside of Polaris, Montana. They have been properly staked and marked at all corners. All Gold Rush Expeditions, Inc. Mining claims have been meticulously surveyed, mapped and researched. Field work is completed by our own experienced, well versed Mine Survey Team.
Location and Access:
Elkhorn District – Beaverhead County, Montana
Parking available next to mine when the road is open
High clearance vehicle 4WD
Contact us for exact coordinates
The Elkhorn is one of the largest and likely most productive, but undervalued abandoned mines in all of the western states. Its reserves are documented in the billions of dollars. The Elkhorn has a long and detailed story that is well documented in the book "One Mans Dream" by Shirley Wirtz and Lorene Lovell.
The old gold and silver mine is documented to have over 14 miles of drifting and workings on at least 3 well defined levels. It is one of the largest gold mines ever to be seen in Montana and still contains billions of dollars in reserves of gold, silver and copper. The remains of the old town of Coolidge sit just below the mine. A town that lived and died with the mine.
These previously abandoned mines have already produced thousands of tons of gold and silver, but at a time when the ore was shipped from Montana, to Utah to California and then out to Swansea, Wales to be processed. The owners of the mine built a massive rail system to service the mines and expedite ore production, but that was just one of many downfalls of the mine. As noted by more than one geologist, The mine is a major producer of gold and silver, and could be a major producer if someone took a few thousand dollars to do the work required to get the mine started.
The Elkhorn, in its current state has not been mapped fully or documented in its entirety. History and documentation state that there are over 14 miles of workings between the Elkhorn and Elkhorn Extension mines. The mines in their entirety have not been mapped or completely documented at any point. Gold Rush Expeditions own the only maps of the mining works and holds the last, if not only, images ever seen from inside the massive mine and camp.
The Elkhorn Mining Camp and Mines can be broken down into two main sections. The upper camp, which is where the famous Idahahn lode was discovered and worked, and the lower camp, which is where the mill, the haulage tunnel and old town of Coolidge sit. The upper camp and lower camp are tied together in two ways. One in the above ground workings and the connecting lines that brought the ores to the mill. The sites are also tied together in the fact that the camp and mines connect underground.
The geology of the Elkhorn district is taken primarily from Winchell (1914:168-159) who describes the country rock of the Elkhorn district as a porphrytic quartz monzonite with euhedral plagioclase, quartz, biotite, horneblende, magnetite, apatite, and pyrite. The Elkhorn district monzonite covers a large portion of the south end of the Pioneer range, extending south about eight miles to the Polaris mine, southwest about four miles to Grasshopper Creek and north and east to Hecla. In general the ores of this district are of low grade, but the veins are large.
Within the Elkhorn district the monzonite is penetrated by dikes of aplite and pegmatite and also by fissure veins containing copper ores in a quartzose gangue. In the southwestern part of the district the monzonite is intersected by narrow seams of quartz with pyrite carrying a little silver and copper. The veins contain chalcopyrite, galena, sphalerite, and chalcocite films on pyrite. In the oxide zones, the copper minerals include malachite, azurite, and native copper. Fissure veins in the central portion contain pyrite and chalcopyrite. Sooty copper glance is formed at water level at a depth of 150 to 250 feet. Also present are veins along aplitic intrusions containing argentiferous galena and tetrahedrite with bornite.
The Elkhorn lode was located by Mike T. Steele and F. W. Pahnish on October 24, 1873. A partnership was formed with Con Bray and Judge Meade and enough money was raised to build a small mill on the site. For the next two decades, small amounts of high-grade ore were mined and shipped to Swansea for smelting. In 1893, the Elkhorn shut down, along with the district's other mines, after the disastrous drop in silver prices that year. By 1903, silver prices had recovered to a point where it seemed feasible to revive the Elkhorn mine. Tom Judge found a rich vein of silver ore while doing prospecting work on the Elkhorn Ledge. This generated some interest to reopen the mine, but there was not sufficient financing to get the project underway. In 1906, Frank Felt bought a number of claims in the district and, along with M. L. McDonald and Donald B. Gillies, started a tunnel on the Idanha vein which eventually would become the major producing mine for the Elkhorn group. Two years later, in 1909, the tunnel would be further developed by the Park Mining Company which extended it to 748 feet (Sassman 1941; Wirtz and Lovell 1976).
The Elkhorn Mining operations were restricted by the lack of economical transportation prior to 1882. Being located in the heart of a a high mountain valley, far from any towns or hubs was a major issue. From 1873 to 1882, nearly no ores were shipped out. Instead they were stockpiles and processed on site. The cost of processing was very high. The ore was hauled by wagon to Corinne, Utah and then sent overland (train) to San Francisco, from there by ship to Swansea, Wales where the smelters were located. In 1893, silver prices crashed and many mining operations throughout the district closed down, most never to recover. But not the mighty Elkhorn.
The Elkhorn had something that many other mines in the area did not have. Gold. Gold values and ore sustained the mine from 1893 to the early 1900s. In the twentieth century, virtually all mining activity in the district was centered on the Elkhorn lode. The massive operation to develop the lode would turn out to be one of Montana's last and largest mining ventures. Economics dictated that a rail line be built for export of ores. The rail line was completed by December 1919 and was the last narrow-gauge railway built in the United States. The railroad had three Baldwin locomotives, 28 freight cars, three passenger cars, a machine shop, an engine house and depots at a total cost of $2.1 million dollars.
Large-scale development of the Elkhorn lode got underway in 1911. William R. Allen, former lieutenant governor of Montana turned mining entrepreneur, became interested in the property and devoted his efforts to developing the Elkhorn mines on a scale which dwarfed anything attempted in the area before or since. Allen would be inextricably linked with the fortunes of the Elkhorn mine for the next 40 years. Although many others were involved in the development of the Elkhorn mine, Allen was the chief promoter and prime mover of the project from beginning to end. His personal career and fortune would be mirrored in the development and ultimate failure of the Elkhorn mine project.
An estimated $5,000,000 was spent by the Boston-Montana Development Company in building the Elkhorn mine project. However, before the mill even went into production, serious problems began to appear. The economy had slowed down during the 1920-1921 recession and, to make matters worse, the company's bond and note issues, along with other financial obligations, came due during this same period. In its prime, the mine and mill employed 250 men, yet only 26,000 tons of ore were mined from 1921 through 1924 due to labor issues, weather and a variety of other bad luck problems. 20,000 tons were produced in 1925, but from then on only a few tons were reported processed sporadically during the years 1935-1937, 1939, 1942, 1948 and 1953.
The mine owners processed much of the gold and silver for those years at the mill. Making payroll and operating expenses from those proceeds. It was only in years of high profits that any production was reported or taxes paid on that production. According to historical documentation, the amount of ores produced as reported would equal $8.7 million dollars at a 1930-1949 average. However, historical documents only account for an actual taxable output of $375,000. A variance of nearly $8.3 Million dollars. Where did all that money go?
Total production from the Elkhorn mines was 52,385 tons of ore and from that, 8,900 tons of concentrates were produced for shipment to smelters at Tooele, Utah and East Helena, Montana.
The concentrates yielded 851,725 pounds of lead, 4,100 pounds of zinc, 370,799 pounds of copper, 180,843 ounces of silver and 1,013 ounces of gold. The total of this output in 1949 numbers is $8,725,435.50. Somehow this was mis-reported in 1949 when the reported total production of the Elkhorn mines was $375,000. This is not uncommon and leaves over $8.25 million dollars unaccounted for.
In 1981 the previously abandoned mines received new interest with the increase in gold prices. The Elkhorn mines were bought by Timberline Minerals, Inc. who did some exploratory prospecting work on the site. They reported good potential for silver, tungsten, molybdenum as well as pockets and veins of gold which were previously unknown. It has been reported by numerous geological and federal sources that with current technology, these mines could be viable, commercial sites with only a few thousand dollars in improvements. Could these claims be responsible for the next mining billionaire in the United States? Only time will tell.
Access to the Mine: Parking available next to mine when the road is open
Tailings Present: 1,000 + Yards (Gold, Silver, Copper, Quartz)
Entrance: Easily accessible, Timbered with steel beams, Gated
Mine Cut: adit
Depth / Length: 14 Miles as reported by MBMG.
Minerals in the Mine :Gold, Silver, Copper, Quartz
Foot Traffic in the Mine: low
Last Worked: 1981