Deer Lodge County Montana Gold Production
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By A. H. KOSCHMANN and M. H. BERGENDAHL - USGS 1968
Deer Lodge County in southwestern Montana has produced large amounts of silver and both lode and placer gold. The total production of the county has not been accurately determined, for records of early production, especially placer production, were not kept. Although there was a large placer output in the 1860's and 1870's, the deposits were soon depleted and have been virtually dormant since 1900. Production prior to 1904 was probably between $3.5 (169,330 ounces) and $8.25 million (399,135 ounces), of which about $2.5 to $3 million represents lode production and the remainder represents placer gold. From 1904 through 1952, the county produced about 303,000 ounces of lode gold and only 2,243 ounces of placer gold. The total minimum gold production of the county through 1959 was about 470,000 ounces. Most of the gold mined in Deer Lodge County came from the Georgetown and French Creek districts. Georgetown yielded almost all the lode gold; French Creek yielded the placer gold.
FRENCH CREEK DISTRICT
The French Creek district is in southern Deer Lodge County about 12 miles south of Anaconda. The gold of the district came from placer deposits near the headwaters of French Creek and its tributaries. The total placer gold has not been ascertained, and the estimates of the early production vary considerably. The deposits were discovered in 1864 and, according to Lyden (1948, p. 24), they were credited by R. W. Raymond with having produced about $1 million (48,380 ounces) to the end of 1869, but other estimates listed by Lyden (1948, p. 24) credited the district with a yield of $5 million during the same period. Between 1900 and 1902, a dredge and several hydraulic installations were operating in the district, but their productivity was not recorded. The deposits were again worked in the 1930's, but only a few ounces of gold was recovered. The district was inactive from 1940 through 1959. Total gold production probably was between 50,000 and 250,000 ounces through 1959.