The Big Dick Mine is one of the largest and most productive mines in the Elliston District of Powell County, Montana. The mine is often referred to as the Evening Star for the Evening Star Mining Company who operated the mine from 1906-1920 and held option on the property until 1940
The mines were profitable and operated on a commercial level until 1919 with some intermittent production in the 1920s and 1930s. By 1940 when the War Act was executed, the Mine was reported as mothballed with a single watchman. The property has not been addressed or worked since that time.
There are over 2000’ of documented, interconnected workings at the Mine. They are all inaccessible and have been since at least 1920. Ore values from the mine averaged 5 ounces of gold per ton according to the Montana DEQ and other USGS reports. Silver was reported to run from 30 to 60 ounces per ton.
Surveyors assessed the site in 2015 and 2016. It boasts excellent existing road access despite its remote location. The workings were inaccessible, however, surveyors noted high value ores in the tailings processed by the mill at the upper camp near the adit. Other waste dumps also showed good quality gold and silver ores.
MINING CLAIM DESCRIPTION
The Big Dick Mine consists of two contiguous twenty-acre lode claims and one, five acre mill claim. These claims cover all of the relevant outcrops and follow along the general trend of the veins as established by geological surveys. The mill site is set to address the lower, newer gravity mill on the property. The claims cover all of the workings of the Big Dick, the Treasure Mountain and the Evening Star prospects. The Black Jack mine, which is on a patent, is not included, however, it never made the connection to the Big Dick mine according to documentation. It sits as a collapsed mound of dirt just east of the main workings of the Big Dick.
The property sits in a low mountain gulch and stretches up the side of what used to be called “NIXXXR Mountain” Its some steep terrain that offers good cover from pines and aspens. There is good development and most of the mines are accessible from the road. The upper shaft, which appears to have a sort of tram system in place does not have a defined road to it.
There are also remnants of a large mining community in relatively good condition. A large, three story boarding house is still mostly standing and boasts electrical retro fitting circa 1930s. There are other cabins, workshops, vehicles and other remnants in the small gulch. All evidence of the large scale and productive and profitable mining that was carried out at the site.
Historical records state that the outcrop was located in or around 1900. The property received some assessment work for the next few years and then in 1904 was getting some development. By 1906 the mine was producing and employed 7 men. The main shaft was 300’ deep and there was a drift being cut to intercept the shaft at a depth of 375’. The mine began to pick up steam, delivering ore that averaged 5 ounces per ton in gold and 60 ounces per ton in silver.
Production at the mine started to slow in 1914 with the onset of WWI. The largest concern was finding qualified miners to work the operation. World War I from 1914-1918 removed a considerable portion of the workforce from the mines of the United States and the Elliston area. By 1919 The mine was not able to sustain profits because there was no workforce to support the mine.
The portals of the mine were closed in 1920 as costs were outpacing profits with a skeleton crew attempting to operate the mine. In 1923 a load of waste rock was taken from the site and reportedly returned $10,000 with gold returns of 1.5 ounces per ton and 30 ounces of silver per ton. From waste dump rock.
Another load of rock was picked up in 1927 and returned similar values. The mine had not managed to re-open but had a great many investors ready and waiting. The Great Depression Crash destroyed these investors and the mine again remained idle.
There are some local accounts who state that the mine operated from 1930 to 1940, operated by a small group of miners and their families. The old boarding house was retrofitted with electricity at this time and other improvements were made to the site.
In 1940, the War Act mandated the close of the operation and the mine was again closed. The portals blasted to “keep high graders out of the workings.” The mine never returned to its former prominence and never re-opened after the war. The portals were never re-opened, but they did start to seep some water, indicating that the water reportedly hit at the 400’ was rising up and out of the workings.
In 2013-2014, the Montana DEQ and Helena National Forest Service, drunk on federal funding, spent funds uselessly to further close the portals and level and destroy the old mill at the lower adit.
In 2015 and 2016, Gold Rush Expeditions, Inc. surveyors visited and documented the site. Noting the existing values in the tailings and in the waste dumps alike. They noted the historical structures and vehicles on the property. Claims were staked on the area in 2015 and in 2016 Gold Rush returned to match historical documentation and statements with the actual remnants at the mine site.
In 2017 the Forest Service gated the road to the mine at the base of the river. Claim owners will need to request a key from the Forest Service and likely provide a bond for said key.
There is excellent access to the mines via a well-maintained county road. It is suitable for full size vehicles and could support small dump trucks with care. The road is steep in sections and can be narrow but provides no real dangers.
There are no maps of the workings of the Big Dick, nor are there detailed histories of shipments and production. There is only what is left on the ground. A large mining camp, two mills, one gravity, and one chemical based, cabins, houses, and workshops. All indications of substantial profits and development. At very least someone had to pay the miners to work, and that wasn’t federal funding. The profits from the mine would have been used to sustain its development and expansion.
The mines are ready for development today and there is substantial evidence to suggest that the company or team who opens the mine workings and starts to work the deposits will find great success. The mine portals have not been opened since at least 1940, the price of gold and silver was a pittance at that time. Today with modern technologies and equipment, the mine could be rehabilitated and in working condition within a year.
MINING CLAIM QUICK FACTS:
ACCESS: Easy 4WD access
WASTE DUMP PRESENT/SIZE: Waste Dumps at both portals. 25k tons combined.
TAILINGS PRESENT/SIZE: Tailings present at Adit and lower Mill. Estimate 10,000 tons total.
MINE CUT/STRUCTURE: Shaft-495’, Adit-1200’ intersecting with drift workings
TOTAL WORKINGS: Over 2000'
COMMODITIES: Gold, Silver
NEAREST CITY WITH AMENITIES: Helena, 22.9 Miles
ACRES AND TYPE OF CLAIM: 45 Acre Lode Claim
RESOURCES: Good water from mine and small stream in gulch