Pierce City Gold Camp

Pierce City Gold Camp is now attracting considerable attention from capitalists. Ohio parties have purchased an interest in the Golden Gate Mining Company’s property, and are now carrying on work there. The Milling & Mining Company also have a five-stamp mill on their property three miles from Pierce City, have begun the milling of ore, and good results have been obtained. Some sixty thousand dollars in gold has been extracted by a three-stamp mill owned by the Dunn Brothers on adjoining property. The character of the ore in this camp is mostly free milling gold quartz. The Chapman group of gold-quartz claims on the Oro Grande creek, fifteen miles northeast of Pierce City will be worked in 1890. The showing is one hundred thousand tons of ore in sight, free milling, with assays, from seven dollars and forty-five cents to fifty-six dollars per ton. A contemporary publication in an article headed “The Free Milling Gold Belt of Idaho.” gives the following: “The Western Mining World’s correspondents in Idaho exhibit a well founded enthusiasm over the mineral outlook in that state. In writing from Pierce City one gentleman refers to the fact that mining men seeking investment have a natural preference for free-milling propositions, the great advantage being that the ore requires no shipment from the mine, but is milled on the ground by stamp mills. An-other advantage is that the machinery required is not ponderous and can be transported to the mine by wagon or pack train, and a mill can be erected at a cost of from two to five thousand dollars that will turn out from eight to fifteen tons of ore per day at an expense of from four to five dollars per ton. Then again, after the ore is extracted and put on the dump, four men are sufficient to operate a stamp mill with an expense including labor, fuel and repairs not exceeding twenty-five dollars per day to mill twelve tons. The expense of taking ore from the mine might be estimated at two dollars, and the milling two dollars per ton. As no shipment of ore is required, free-milling camps are free from the exaction and high tariffs of transportation companies. The fact that Pierce City is a free-milling gold-quartz camp perhaps has more to do with the rapid growth now in progress than any other one thing.

“The Idaho free-milling gold belt embraces thousands of square miles of territory lying in Shoshone county and running southeasterly to Pierce City, between the forks of Clearwater river and including the headwaters of the Oro Fino, Oro Grande, French, Lo-Lo and Mussel Shell creeks, and continuing on to Dixie, Elk City, Florence and Warrens, comprising the southeastern slope of the Bitter Root mountain. The streams above mentioned empty into the Clearwater, Salmon and Snake rivers. Cither minerals than gold are found in the territory, and some gold quartz has been found that is not free â- milling, but the main feature of the important properties so far developed has been free-milling gold. This vast mineral district is largely tributary to Spokane, and mining men of that city are becoming interested in some of the best proper-ties, and are sending forward machinery and supplies to aid in rapid development.”

Quartz mining in this locality can be carried on twelve months in the year, and the large tract of agricultural land in the Nez Perce reservation now being cultivated makes living as cheap in Pierce City as in almost any farming community. Fairly good wagon roads from Lewiston and Kendrick are traveled daily with freight, camp supplies, stage and express. The distance is eighty miles from Lewiston and sixty-five miles from Kendrick. Steamboats from Lewiston make trips in the spring within twenty-five miles of Golden Gate, and merchandise for Pierce City is landed at the mouth of Oro Fino creek, forty miles away. The government is now working a force of men, improving the navigation as far up as Chamois, which will probably make it navigable for steamers six months in the year. Work on the free-milling gold-quartz mines of French, Oro Fino, Rhodes and Mussel Shell creeks is being pushed, and some new developments are reported. The Klondyke has widened into a twelve-foot vein of solid ore. The manager of the Gold Bar reports sixty feet depth in shaft No. I, with a twenty-eight-inch vein of ore that assays one hundred and twelve dollars and twenty-seven cents a ton. It is proposed to go down seventy-five feet and then run in a tunnel, tapping the main body of ore at a depth of one hundred and fifty feet. The Golden Gate will go down two hundred feet on one ore vein of three feet in width and a parallel vein of eighteen inches. The veins are seven feet apart. These properties are attracting a great deal of attention and the investment of capital in the operation of the mines will make this one of the richest mining districts of the country, and will thereby contribute to the growth and material advancement of the state.

Pierce City Idaho,

Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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