Idaho History April 9, 2017

Stibnite, Valley County, Idaho


The Yellow Peril

YellowPeril-aCaption: Yellow Peril bus used to transport people at Stibnite. Click photo for larger size.  (photo courtesy of Sandy McRae via Ron and Myrna Smith.)

“This bus was a 1917, 11 passenger touring bus, built by the White Motor Company of Cleveland, OH. It had a 4-cylinder engine, a prest-o-lite acetylene lighting system, and four doors on each side. Three doors on the driver’s side were screwed shut for the passenger’s safety. It had a canvas top but did not have side curtains. The bus was not heated. Bradley Mining Company bought one of these vehicles from the Yellowstone Park Transportation Company fleet. The bus was yellow in color and was soon nick named The Yellow Peril. It was used most of the time to convey workers to and from work, and sometimes used as a school bus. I can recall riding it from Fiddle Creek to the school several times. In about 1955 a fellow who lived in Yellow Pine bought the bus from Bradley. After cleaning the plugs and a little priming it started with a few twists of the crank. I followed the guy to Yellow Pine with a car in case he had a break down. The old bus made the trip fine. I don’t recall this man’s name or what happened to the bus after that.”

by Ron Smith – from “Picks Pans and Shovels” – Valley County History Project – page 193
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2013 The Yellow Peril

20130411-JimsTruck-aApril 11, 2013 photo by Local Color Photography (Click photos for larger size)

[Note: this vehicle now resides at Zena Creek Ranch.]
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Stibnite Road

Excerpted from “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books

“The road over Warm Lake and down Johnson Creek had been build just before the Coxes come to the country. The road from Yellow Pine to Stibnite was built in 1928 and ’29, after Coxes came.

“Before that road was built, Clark [Cox] freighted the doors and windows for the Stibnite mining camp. He used the old Thunder Mountain road, starting at Twin Bridges, up the mountain, across Riordan Creek, and on over the Meadow Creek hill into Stibnite. He drove two wagons with four head to each wagon, the two teams hooked together with lines. He made several trips before the East Fork road to Stibnite was completed. Each round trip took three days.”

Pg. 117 “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books

“The [Idaho] Power Company had been installing a 106-mile transmission line from Emmett to Stibnite in the summer of 1943. The power was energized on a Sunday, January 9, 1944 after months of strenuous engineering and construction work, which was completed in the summer of 1944.”
Ibid. Pg. 124

“During the winter of 1948-’49, so much snow fell in December that when it warmed up toward the last of January and February, countless snowslides occurred between Stibnite and Cascade. About six miles above the dude ranch on the road to Landmark, a big slide caught the state rotary plow. As it was being pushed and covered with snow, the two operators jumped out. Both men landed on the ice and snow on the river, and ran to the other side. They narrowly escaped death.”

“From 1941 to 1953, the roads were maintained and kept open during the winter. Bradley Mining Company plowed snow with a cat or plow from Stibnite to our dude ranch. The state had its equipment at Landmark so it plowed from our ranch to Warm Lake. The county plowed from Cascade.”
Ibid. Pg 140

“The road had to be open so concentrates could be hauled to the railroad at Cascade. The ore was of antimony and tungsten, strategic metals for World War II, the largest percentage of which were produced at Stibnite. From twelve to sixteen trucks drove by the ranch each day. Each truck averaged ten ton to the load.”
Ibid Pg. 99
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Site History of Stibnite

Gold, silver, copper, lead, antimony, and tungsten have been mined from Stibnite since the early 1900’s. The first recorded claims were from 1914, staked by Albert Hennessy. The United Mercury Mining Company purchased the claims from Hennessy. The F. W. Bradley Mining Company obtained the claims in 1927. The Bradley Mining Company began mining and milling gold in the 1930’s. Two years prior to the United State’s involvement in World War II, an act of Congress listed antimony and tungsten as strategic metals essential to national defense. Bradley Mining Company turned Stibnite into a major producer of antimony and tungsten from 1941 through 1945. During this time period, the town of Stibnite was located onsite and had a population of 1,500 with a staffed hospital and a recreation center.

The Bradley Mining Company originally mined underground but switched to open pit mining in 1943. In 1948, the Bradley Mining Company constructed and operated a smelter to process low grade gold and gold-antimony ore concentrates. The town of Stibnite immediately bordered the smelter area to the south and east. A dam was constructed on the East Fork of Meadow Creek (now called Blowout Creek) in order to supply hydroelectric power for milling operations. The dam failed in 1965. The mine was closed in 1952 due to problems with the smelter and the collapse of the antimony market. By 1955, the processing plant was dismantled and most of the houses from the town of Stibnite were moved.

From 1970 to 1991, Stibnite claims were optioned or transferred numerous times. Companies that owned the claims at one time include: the Ranchers Exploration and Development Corporation, Canadian Superior Mining (U.S.) Ltd. (a.k.a. Superior Mining Company) which was purchased by Mobil Oil Corporation, Pioneer Metals, Pegasus Gold, Inc., and the Stibnite Mine Inc. (SMI).

Canadian Superior Mining started a full-scale cyanide-heap leach operation at Stibnite in 1982. Hecla Mining Corporation obtained the lease on the Bradley claims in 1988 and started an open pit mine and one-time heap leach. Hecla mined and processed low-grade oxide ore adjacent to the SMI operation. Hecla processed the remaining available oxide ore by the end of the 1991 mining season.

The gold mining operations from 1982 to 1998 took place in the West End Pit in the Meadow Creek Valley. During this period, neutralized ore was used to cover the Bradley tailings in upper Meadow Creek. Waste rock and neutralized ore was also used to cover other historic mining areas and tailings in the Meadow Creek Valley. Currently, the site is in the process of closure and is no longer actively mined.

source: Fed document no longer available as of Jan 2017
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What the heck IS Stibnite anyway?

Stibnite [stib’nIt] Stibnite, antimony sulfide, Sb2S3, a mineral, silvery gray in color, with a metallic luster. It crystallizes in the orthorhombic system. Found in many parts of the world, it is the most important ore of antimony. It is commonly deposited by alkaline waters and occurs in association with quartz, calcite, sulfides of the base metals, arsenic, gold, and silver. Known in ancient times, stibnite was used in powdered form by women to darken their eyebrows and eyelashes. Antimony is used in alloys for type metal, storage batteries, pewter, babbitt, and antifriction metal for bearings. Its compounds find use in explosives, matches, and fireworks, in vulcanizing rubber, and in medicine as an emetic.

Source: The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2003, Columbia University Press.

see also:

Winter of 1948-1949 link:

page updated Aug 31, 2020