Park County Montana Gold Production
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By A. H. KOSCHMANN and M. H. BERGENDAHL - USGS 1968
Park County, in southern Montana just north of Yellowstone Park, was organized in 1887. Gold placers were discovered in the area as early as 1862 near Gardiner, and by 1870 gold-quartz veins were found near the present site of Jardine and in the Cooke City district. The history of mining in the county is punctuated by brief periods of development and longer intervals of decline, litigation, and idleness (Reed, 1950, p. 7-9). Mineral production prior to 1887 is estimated at not more than $500,000, a large part of which was in gold. From 1887 through 1947 the county produced 250,513 ounces of gold (Reed, 1950, p. 10, table 5) and from 1948 through 1959, about 22,660 ounces. Total gold production through 1959 was roughly 295,000 ounces, more than half of which was mined from 1933 to 1953. The Emigrant Creek, Jardine, and Cooke City districts have been the major sources of gold in Park County.
EMIGRANT CREEK DISTRICT
Emigrant Creek is a tributary of Yellowstone River, which it joins about 24 miles north of Gardiner. The date of discovery of ore deposits in the Emigrant Creek district has not been ascertained, but gold lodes in the district were worked in the 1870's (Reed, 1950, p. 52). The lodes, however, never were economically important. The earliest placer production records date back to 1901 (Reed, 1950, p. 14). Prior to 1941 these gravels were worked in drift mines, or with hydraulic giants, or by ground sluicing. In 1941 a large bucket dredge was assembled on Emigrant Creek and was operated until October 1942. In April 1946 these operations were again resumed, but they were unsuccessful because of increased mining costs. The district remained dormant through 1959. These placers accounted for one-half to two-thirds of the annual production of placer gold in the county (Lyden, 1948, p. 110). Total placer production from 1901 through 1959 was 15,606 ounces. During 1901-3 the district also produced 395 ounces of lode gold (Reed, 1950, p. 14).
The placer gold was derived from the mineralized area at the headwaters of Emigrant Creek (Reed, 1950, p. 50-54). The country rock consists of Pre-cambrian granite, gneiss, and schist, Paleozoic sedimentary rocks, and Tertiary volcanic and intrusive rocks. Small quartz stringers and veins containing galena, sphalerite, pyrite, and chalcopyrite, and small amounts of gold are found in the volcanic rocks, although a few deposits are in the Precam-brian rocks. A few veins are valued chiefly for molybdenite and also contain small amounts of gold and silver.