Idaho History December 3, 2017

1960’s – 1980’s Big Creek / Edwardsburg

Napier Edwards

photo courtesy Sandy McRae

Napier was the son of William and Annie Edwards, founders of Edwardsburg.
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1973 USGS Mining Report

Excerpts from The Ramey Ridge and Edwardsburg Mining Districts

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(excerpted from Summary)

The Ramey Ridge district has a record of yielding $270,063 worth of gold, silver, copper, and lead ore, mostly from veins at the Snowshoe mine in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. Although numerous other veins occur in the district and many claims have been staked, very little exploration has been done. Some exploration has been done on a few properties in recent years, though. Most veins are small lenticular bodies of quartz, valued chiefly for gold and silver, but the grade of the ore is low. The veins at the Copper Camp property, however, are composed mostly of quartz and magnetite with copper minerals of marginal grade. Because of the low grade and discontinuous character of the veins, the resources of precious and base metals in lode deposits in the district probably do not exceed a few million tons of material of marginal and submarginal grade. One prospect may contain a small resource of antimony. Moderate quantities of gravel occur along some streams in the district, but the gold content of most placer samples is too low for these gravels to be of economic interest.

The Edwardsburg district yielded a recorded production of gold and silver from lode deposits of about $44,000, all from the Golden Hand mine. The reported amount of placer gold recovered is negligible, but the actual recovery is estimated to be between $70,000 and $100,000. Lode deposits are mostly thin, discontinuous quartz veins that average a low content of gold and silver, but which probably contain small pockets of high-grade ore. Estimated resources in these lode deposits total about 200,000 tons of submarginal material. About 17,000,000 cubic yards of gravel that averages 10 cents in gold per cubic yard (at a price of $47.85 per ounce) is along Smith Creek. Although this is a submarginal resource, small quantities of the gravel may be of sufficient grade to be worked at a profit.

Mining claims page 64

A search of county records in Idaho, Lemhi, Valley, and Custer Counties disclosed about 5,400 recorded mining claims in the study area. The earliest claims were located in the 1890’s. Most were located in the Thunder Mountain, Ramey Ridge, Pistol Creek, Monumental Creek, and Edwardsburg districts and the Greyhound Ridge addition. Field investigations made by the Bureau of Mines were concentrated in the areas of mining claims.
In most of the mineralized areas, claims overlap or coincide with earlier locations. Courthouse records, therefore, show a great many more claims than are indicated by workings. Undoubtedly, some were not found. Evidence of recent mining activity was noted on many mining claims. Sixty claims have been patented, and many more were surveyed for patent.

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Ramey Ridge district page 107

As judged from past mining activity, concentration of mining claims, and current prospecting activity, the Ramey Ridge district is one of the most important districts in the Idaho Primitive Area. Significant quantities of gold, silver, copper, and antimony minerals occur at several properties. …

Total recorded metal production from the district is $270,063, most of it from the Snowshoe mine (fig. 30, No. 64). The amount of early placer gold production is not known but is thought to have been small. No significant mineral production has been reported since World War II, when the Snowshoe mine was shut down.

Mining in the Ramey Ridge district started in the late 1890’s in conjunction with the Thunder Mountain mining boom. Copper Camp, located before 1900, is probably the oldest lode prospect in the district.

Later, during the Thunder Mountain boom, the Snowshoe mine was located by the Jensen brothers. The property, now known as the Orofino, was discovered by T. G. Thomas in 1906.

County records indicate that lode mining claims were staked as early as 1890 in the vicinity of Copper Camp. The period 1902-07 was one of intensive claim staking, and nearly all the mineralized areas described in this section of the report were originally located prior to 1912. Most of the recent activity has been at the Snowshoe mine area on Crooked Creek, the Copper Camp and Golden Bear properties adjacent to Big Creek, and the Orofino mine on Ramey Ridge. Placers were apparently worked in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, primarily confined to the Beaver Creek area near the mouth of Hand Creek. Courthouse records indicate that approximately 600 mining claims, orgroups of claims, have been located in the Ramey Ridge district during the past 80 years. Many of these are actually relocations of older claims, even though the names are different and their location descriptions do not exactly agree.

Beaver Creek area page 113

Prospects in the Beaver Creek area are easily accessible from the well maintained Forest Service trails that parallel Beaver and Hand Creeks. They include a few small lode prospects east of Beaver Creek and potential placer “ground” on upper Beaver Creek near the junctions with Hand, Cache, and Boulder Creeks.

Mulligan group

The Mulligan group is in the NW14 sec. 5, T. 21 N., R. 10 E., about one-half mile up Mulligan Creek. County claim records indicate that the prospect was originally located in 1904 by William Banner as the Deer Lodge group. John S. Roberson of Yellow Pine, Idaho, located the property in 1948 and is apparently the present claim owner. There is no record of production, and recent development has been limited to assessment work.

Other lode prospects page 116

Sulfide prospect

The Sulfide prospect was located in 1938 by Messrs. Irwin, Roberson, and Chambers. It may now be part of the Mulligan group held by John S. Roberson of Yellow Pine, Idaho.

Wild West group

The Wild West group of four unpatented lode claims is currently held by Messrs. Roberson and Kofoed of Yellow Pine, Idaho, and is on the east side of Beaver Creek about 1 1/2 miles above the mouth of Mulligan Creek. Prospect workings are on a steep southwest-facing slope about 250 feet above Beaver Creek.

Last Chance claim

The Last Chance claim was staked by John S. Roberson and R. H. Nissoula in 1961 and is located on the east side of Beaver Creek about 1.5 miles north of its junction with Big Creek.

Ramey Ridge area page 120

Ramey Ridge area includes the high mountainous areas bounded roughly by Beaver, Big Ramey, and Big Creeks. Ramey Ridge, the principal topographic feature in the vicinity, extends for several miles in a northsouth direction and reaches its maximum elevation of 8,595 feet at Dead Mule Point. Outcrops are few, but quartz-vein float is common in the overburden and talus slopes.

The Ramey Ridge area contains one of the highest concentrations of individual lode mining claims in the Idaho Primitive Area. Most of the past exploration activity was near the headwaters of the East and West Forks of Mulligan Creek. The area was most actively prospected during the years from the early 1900’s until the start of World War II.

Orofino (Estep, Mildred)

The Orofino mine is the most extensively developed prospect in the Ramey Ridge area. It is in sec. 32, T. 22 N., R. 10 E., at the headwaters of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek. Workings are at altitudes ranging from 6,500 to nearly 8,000 feet.

T. G. Thomas reportedly discovered the deposit in 1906; it was known as the Mildred until relocated by Walter Estep. John Roberson and Guy Kofoed relocated the claims as the Arrastre group in the 1950’s and later changed the name to the Orofino group. Ray Nissoula and Lew Morgan are reportedly the latest partners in the mining venture.

The first recorded production was made by T. G. Thomas, who recovered $37 in gold (at $20 an ounce) from a test lot of 1,800 pounds of ore run through an arrastre. During 1938-41 recorded metal production was $2,718 in gold and silver Guy Kofoed and Lew Morgan reportedly recovered about 1,000 pounds of concentrates in 1967 by tabling. The ore was apparently sorted from the old dumps and small stockpiles, because little development work has been done in recent years. Presumably, small amounts of ore are periodically processed at a small ball mill on the property.

Mohawk group

The Mohawk property is an enlargement of the Mohawk group of claims mentioned by Shenon and Ross (1936). The original property, plus some additional ground, was restaked as the Gold Pan group in 1931 by E. A. Williams and has been held since 1960 by assessment work of Lew Morgan.

Mahan group

The Mahan group of gold prospects is along the upper half of the West Fork of Mulligan Creek in sees. 29, 30, 31, and 32, T. 22 N., R. 10 E. The main workings are west of the creek at elevations ranging from 6,900 to 7,300 feet. Probably all the workings along the West Fork of Mulligan Creek were once considered to be part of the Mahan group. County records show that from 1907 to 1940 Charles Mahan and his son located more than 12 groups of mining claims on the West Fork of Mulligan Creek. In 1936, the Mahan property consisted of an old 5-stamp mill in disrepair, a new handmade 1-stamp mill (the Paymaster), and a few scattered short tunnels, according to Shenon and Ross (1936). The old 5-stamp mill was reportedly operated on float ore from the talus slopes east of the mill. No production has been recorded, and apparently it was small. The latest Mahan group of three claims was staked in 1961 by Messrs. Cahill, Leatherman, and Earl.

Beaver Ridge (Aniti, Mother Lode) prospects

Numerous old workings are on Beaver Ridge, between Beaver Creek and the West Fork of Mulligan Creek. They are about 1,000 feet west of the Mahan group at altitudes of about 7,400-8,000 feet. The only location notices found in the area were listed as part of the Mother Lode group staked by J. I. Zorton and others in 1940 and the Aniti group staked by Scott Williams in 1948. Other old location posts were found, but the claim notices were gone.

Little Gem No. 7 claim

The Little Gem No. 7 claim is about 1,200 feet east, up a steep talus slope, from the old Mahan mill. Charles Mahan staked the Little Gem group of seven claims in 1914. The other six claims continued northward from No. 7 to include claims that have been relocated as the Mother Lode, Gold Reef group, Pharmacist, and Gold Slide.

Other lode prospects page 134

Mother Lode prospect

The Mother Lode prospect was probably first located by Charles Mahan in 1914 as part of the Little Gem group and was apparently restaked in 1940 by J. I. Zorton and Mahan as the Mother Lode. The prospect is on the east side of the West Fork at Mulligan Creek, between the Little Gem No. 7 and Gold Reef group.

Gold Reef group

The Gold Reef group was staked by J. J. Flynn in 1916 and restaked by I. Dolbow in 1919.

Pharmacist claim

The Pharmacist claim was recorded by J. I. Zorton in 1926.

Gold Slide group

The Gold Slide group of three claims is on a steep talus slope at an altitude of approximately 7,800 feet. The claims were first recorded by R. B. MacGregor in 1905.

Colorado claim

The Colorado claim was originally located in 1908, by T. G. Thomas.

Gold Dollar group (Trade Dollar, Little Annie)

The Gold Dollar group of lode claims was staked originally by J. M. Hand in 1902.

Luzon claim

This claim was originally located in 1906 by W. W. Burr but may have been relocated in the Mahan group.

Valley View claim

The Valley View claim is about one-fourth mile northwest of the Luzon claim; it was located originally by T. J. Lynch in 1904.

Gold Bug Cabin prospect

The Gold Bug Cabin prospect workings are near the junction of West Fork Mulligan Creek (Mahan) and Ramey Ridge trails. The cabin is at an altitude of about 8,000 feet, near a small spring at the head of the West Fork of Mulligan Creek. The cabin is referred to locally as the Gold Bug Cabin but none of the mining claims listed in courthouse records appear to fit this location.

Gold Bug prospect

The Gold Bug prospect workings are principally on the east side of the West Fork of Mulligan Creek about 800 feet south of the Gold Bug Cabin.

Badger claim

The Badger claim was staked by Charles Mahan in 1926. It is on the west side of the West Fork of Mulligan Creek, midway between the Valley View prospect and the Happy Jack claim.

Happy Jack prospect

County records indicate that the Happy Jack prospect was located by Craig Short in 1933. The prospect is on the west side of the West Fork of Mulligan Creek, about 600 feet south of the Gold Bug Cabin.

Portland prospect

The Portland prospect is midway between the headwaters of the East and West Forks of Mulligan Creek but on the east side of Ramey Ridge. It was located by Mr. Hollester in 1902 and is accessible by the main Ramey Ridge trail.

Avenger prospect

The Avenger prospect was staked by Hazel and Jack Griffen in 1939. It is atop Ramey Ridge near the junction of the Ramey Ridge and Orofino mine trails.

North Mildred claim

The North Mildred claim was staked by Walter Estep in 1929, probably as part of the original Arrastre (Orofino mine) group. It may also be on a partial overstake of the Florence “A” group. It is on top of Ramey Ridge at the head of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek.

Protection claim

The Protection claim was staked by W. A. Estep and Frank Lobear in 1929. It is on the west side of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek near its head and is accessible by either the Ramey Ridge or the Orofino mine trail.

Florence “A” group

The Florence “A” group of five or more lode claims was originally staked by M. B. Merritt and others in 1904 and probably included some of the adjoining prospect areas to the east that are described under other claim names. The old prospect workings are near the top of Ramey Ridge, northwest of the headwaters of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek, about 200 yards south of the East Fork trail and Ramey Ridge trail junction.

Ajax group

The Ajax group of lode claims was staked by William F. Yeates in 1915 and may be a relocation of the Golden Age group recorded by T. J. Lynch in 1906. It is at the head of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek, about 800 feet northeast of the principal Orofino workings.

B. J. prospect

The B. J. prospect, first located about 1904 by H. W. Burton and others, is on the summit of Ramey Ridge, at the head of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek.

Paymaster prospect

W. S. Boyles and others staked the Paymaster No. 1 and No. 2 lode claims in 1911. The claims are at the head of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek and north of the Orofino group.

Submarine claim

The Submarine claim adjoins the Paymaster on the southeast and the Orofino group on the northeast. It was originally located in 1906 by L. C. Stephenson.

Gold field group

The Goldfield group of lode claims was originally located by B. B. Scott in 1907. The prospect workings are about 200 feet west of the top of Ramey Ridge.

Gold Crown group

The Gold Cown group of claims is about midway between the Ramey Ridge trail and the [old] bulldozer road to the Orofino property. Between 1935 and 1939, the claims were recorded by Burt B. Spilman, administrator of the Estep estate.

Schley No, 3 group

The Schley group of three claims was located in 1904 and 1905 by R. D. Amond. The discovery work for the Schley No. 3 is on top of Ramey Ridge about 100 feet northeast of the main Ramey Ridge trail. The other claims apparently extend northwestward to include ground later staked as the Gold Crown group.

Lucky Strike claim

The Lucky Strike claim was staked by Frank Lobear in 1932. It is on top of Ramey Ridge and is accessible by the Copper Camp-Orofino … trail that passes through the prospect.

Gold Bug No. 5

The Gold Bug claims Nos. 1 through 4 were located apparently along the crest of Eightyeight Ridge. They include several small prospect pits that no longer penetrate the overburden. The claims were located in 1945 by Frank Lobear.

Betty Jane claim

The Betty Jane claim was staked by Messrs. Thomson and McLaughlin in 1925. It is atop Eightyeight Ridge and about 1 1/2 miles east of Ramey Ridge.

Virginia group

The Virginia group of claims is located on top and along the south side of Eightyeight Ridge, 300-1,000 feet east of the ridge’s junction with Ramey Ridge. The claims were staked in 1928 by Craig Short.

Big Creek area page 144

The Big Creek area includes lode properties less than a mile north of Big Creek and placer sites along both sides of the 8-mile-long section of Big Creek included in the Ramey Ridge district. No property is more than a mile by trail from the [trail] that parallels the creek. Elevations range from 4,600 feet at Monumental Bar to about 6,200 feet at the highest lode working.

Copper Camp mine

The property, known for many years as Copper Camp, is roughly bounded on the east by Camp Creek, on the west by Copper Creek, and on the south by Big Creek. It is 8.5 miles northeast from the Big Creek Ranger Station by way of [trail] that parallels Big Creek.

The mine was first located in 1888 and was organized as the Copper Camp Mining Co. in 1903. The 29 lode and 5 placer claims making up the present property were relocated in 1953 by the present owner, Copper Camp Consolidated Mines, Inc., Boise, Idaho. The property was leased subsequently by Highland Surprise Consolidated Mining Co. of Wallace, Idaho, who made the first systematic geologic evaluation of the property. … On the basis of the near-surface showings, they recommended diamond drilling and underground exploration and development work. Inability to raise the necessary capital for this venture resulted in curtailment of operations by 1957. The property remained essentially inactive until April 1969, when Rocket Mines, Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia, acquired a lease and option-to-purchase agreement from Copper Camp Consolidated.

Sunlight group

The Sunlight Nos. 1 and 2 lode claims were staked by L. E. Curtise in 1947 and 1960, respectively. The claims are one-fourth to one-half mile northeast of the mouth of Little Ramey Creek.

Golden Bear group

The Golden Bear Nos. 1 and 2 claims were staked by Wilbur Wiles and Ray Thrall in 1961. The claims are one-half mile north of Big Creek and about midway between Little Ramey Creek and Crooked Creek, on the west side of Carpenters Gulch. Nearly all development work has been on the Golden Bear No. 1 claim.

Other lode prospects page 157

Big Sun/lower No. 1 claim

The.Big Sunflower No. 1 claim, was staked by G. W. Winters in 1936. The discovery pit is 130 feet north from the junction of Big Ramey Creek with Big Creek and about 15 feet west of the Big Creek [trail].

Black and White claim

The Black and White claim was staked in 1912 by J. J. Flynn as the Gold Dollar and was restaked in 1950 by J. O. Vines as the Black and White. The prospect is about 800 feet east of a cabin at the mouth of Big Ramey Creek.

Gold King group

The Gold King group of four lode claims was staked by Sortero Bolenzello in 1932. The claims are about 2,000 feet north of Big Creek and opposite the mouth of Gold Creek.

Crooked Creek area page 163

Principal mineral properties in this area are within 1 mile of the [trail] that parallels Crooked Creek.

Elevations range from 4,628 feet at the mouth of Crooked Creek to 7,750 feet at Acorn Butte. South- and east-facing slopes are relatively open and support sparse clumps of grass, sagebrush, and other vegetation. North- and west-facing slopes are heavily forested with undergrowth of bushes, shrubs, and grasses.

Snowshoe mine

Based on past metal production, the Snowshoe mine is the most important mineral property in the Ramey Ridge district. It is in Snowshoe Gulch, on the north side of Crooked Creek, about 19 miles by [trail] from Big Creek, Idaho.

The Snowshoe group consists of 16 lode and two placer claims. Principal mine workings are on the steep talus-covered east slope of Snowshoe Gulch at elevations ranging from 5,400 to 5,700 feet. Snowshoe Gulch is dry except for mine water seeping from the lowest (No. 3) portal.

The property was first located during the Thunder Mountain boom in 1904 by Jacob and Eric Jensen. They worked the claims intermittently for 25 years and then leased the property to Big Creek Gold Mines, Inc., of New York. The lease expired in 1934, and the mine was sold by the Jensens to Pierce Metals Development Co. Extensive development followed until World War II. The camp reportedly housed more than 60 people at one time. Seven bunkhouses were constructed at the mouth of Snowshoe Gulch, and a schoolhouse was built 300 yards farther up Crooked Creek. A blacksmith shop, an assay shop, a 25-ton-per-day flotation and amalgamation mill, and a cookhouse were built at the mine site. Mining activity continued until the War Production Board Order L-208 forced closure of gold mines in October 1942. Some production and development work was, however, reported in 1943. Assessment work was carried on by Thomas Nevitt until his death in 1964. Dale Creech, president of Far West Mining Co., Boise, Idaho, acquired the rights to buildings and equipment, and the mining company currently holds the unpatented claims. All the old buildings are in a state of disrepair, and the underground mine workings are mostly inaccessible.

… Recorded production prior to 1937 is not complete, but 1937 mine maps show a mined-out area equal to about 210,000 cubic feet, 17,500 tons, of ore. Even at an average value of $3 per ton, metal production prior to 1938 would have exceeded $50,000. Therefore, total metal production from the Snowshoe mine is estimated at more than $300,000, mostly in gold, mainly during 1934-43.

Yellow Jacket group

The Yellow Jacket group of eight mining claims was staked by Jacob Jensen in 1906. The claims were later purchased by the present owner, M. C. Scott, of Olympia, Wash. Scott’s cabin and storage sheds are three-fourths mile west of the Snowshoe mine, 4 miles up Crooked Creek from Big Creek. … Elevations range from about 5,100 feet at Scott’s cabin to about 6,000 feet at the prospect workings.

Idaho-Rainbow group

The Idaho-Rainbow group of seven contiguous lode claims adjoins the west side of the Snowshoe group. The principal mine working is about 500 feet north of Crooked Creek. The property was originally known as the Buckhorn claim and was probably first located by J. T. Bell and others in 1902. The property was later acquired by Noel and John Routson, who leased the property with option to purchase to H. T. Maib and associates in 1937. Maib and associates formed Idaho Rainbow Mines, Inc., in 1938, and by 1946 they had completed nearly all the development that has been done on the property.

Galena prospect

The Galena prospect is about one-half mile south of the Snowshoe mine and three-fourths mile north of Acorn Butte Lookout. Old mining-claim descriptions are vague but indicate that the prospect was located at least as early as 1935; it is commonly referred to as the Galena or Galena Lead.

Other lode prospects page 176

Acorn Butte No. 1 prospect

About 800-1,000 feet west of the Acorn Butte No. 2 prospect is a 300-foot-wide, 1,000-foot-long outcrop of quartzite.

Brown Bear prospect

At the bottom of a small canyon about 1 mile S. 55° W. of Acorn Butte is an old exploration pit 8 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 4 feet deep (fig. 30, No. 72). The pit is the only remaining evidence of the Brown Bear claim staked by J. T. Bell and others in 1902.

Acorn Butte No. 4 prospect

A 4-foot-wide, 10-foot-long quartz vein exposure was observed about 1 mile S. 75° W. of Acorn Butte Lookout.

Acorn Butte No. 2 prospect

A discovery pit and trench were observed on a ridge crest one-half mile north of Acorn Butte.

Acorn Butte No. 3 prospect

The prospect is one-half mile S. 80° W. of Acorn Butte Lookout.

Silver Dome claim

About 300-400 feet south of the caved adit is the Silver Dome claim, located in 1956 by Clifford Shepardand Roland Clark.

Edwardsburg district page 230

The Edwardsburg district has a record of gold and silver production and a potential for development of additional resources. The district covers about 35 square miles. It includes the northern part of the much larger Edwardsburg mining district described by Ross (1941).

Few prospects in the district are more than a mile from an old mine access road. Most slopes are steep and densely forested. Brush is thick near the creeks. Altitudes range from 8,868 feet near Placer Lake to about 5,000 feet at the confluence of Beaver and Big Creeks. Except on ridge crests, bedrock is generally concealed by at least 1 foot of overburden.

Little mining or prospecting activity was done prior to 1900, but most mining claims were located prior to 1910. Total recorded lode production is about $44,000 in gold and silver, produced from the Golden Hand mine in 1932-41. Only a few ounces of placer gold production has been recorded, but an estimated 3,500 ounces valued at $70,000 to $100,000 has probably been recovered from the Smith Creek-Big Creek placers. Considerable underground exploration work has been done at the Werdenhoff mine, but there is no record of production.

Early gold prospecting was concentrated near the Golden Hand and Werdenhoff mines. Recent prospecting in the area south of Smith Creek has attempted to find tungsten deposits, similar to that at the Snowbird mine just west of the study boundary.

Golden Hand mine area page 231

Numerous lode prospects are in the Golden Hand mine area, roughly bounded by Pueblo Ridge and the drainages of Cache, Beaver, and Clark Creeks.

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Golden Hand mine

The Golden Hand mine is near the head of Cache Creek, about 12 miles by unmaintained dirt roads from Big Creek, Idaho. Altitude at the mine is about 7,000 feet. The deposit was discovered originally by J. M. Hand in about 1889. He located placer claims on Beaver Creek near the mouth of Cache Creek and later discovered two small gold quartz veins on the north side of Cache Creek. The veins were developed by two short adits named the Arrastra and Hand. Ore was treated in an arrastra and the Hand brothers reportedly recovered $1,200 in gold. Shortly after the Thunder Mountain boom, the Penn-Idaho Co. acquired the property and drove two adits on the Neversweat No. 1 claim on the south side of Cache Creek. In 1933 the property consisted of 26 unpatented mining claims (22 lode and 4 placer) owned by Golden Hand, Inc. The company mined from an opencut on the Neversweat No. 2 claim and processed the ore in a 6-ton-per-day Straub mill. Claude Elliot relocated the claims in 1963.

Bureau of Mines production records show that 1,368 ounces of gold and 301 ounces of silver were produced from 1,648 tons of high-grade oxidized ore during 1932-34. An additional 200 ounces of gold and 50 ounces of silver were recovered from about 485 tons of ore in 1938. Minor production was reported in 1940 and 1941. Total recorded gold and silver production is valued at $44,212. No production or development has been reported since 1941.

Total development work includes 18 adits, numerous pits and trenches, a small mill, a two-story cookhouse-bunkhouse, and several cabins.

In 1933 total development work at the Neversweat No. 2 claim consisted of two short adits, 70 and 130 feet long, and two opencuts, less than 50 feet long and 25 feet wide. Most past production apparently came from these near-surface workings. R. N. Bell (unpub. consultant’s report, 1934) described a pit probably 40 feet square and 15 feet deep, that yielded 1,800 tons of ore from which $32,000 in gold was recovered by plate amalgamation.

Other lode prospects page 236

Vee prospect

The Vee prospect is about three-fourths mile southwest of the Golden Hand mine, near the head of Cache Creek.

Snowslide prospect

The Snowslide claim is about 1 mile east of the Golden Hand mine and one-fourth mile west of Beaver Creek.

Wolf prospect

The Wolf prospect is one-fourth mile west of Beaver Creek and about 1 1/4 miles southeast of the Golden Hand mine.

Triple A. prospect

The Triple A. prospect is about one-third mile southeast from the Golden Hand mine.

Nelly More prospect

The Nelly More prospect is 1 mile northeast of Pueblo Summit and less than one-half mile southeast of the Golden Hand mine.

Big 4 prospect

The Big 4 prospect is along the Golden Hand access road, less than 1 mile northeast of Pueblo Summit.

Bell prospect

The Bell prospect is about three-fourths mile northeast of Pueblo Summit, near the Golden Hand access road.

Powder prospect

The Powder prospect is about one-fourth mile northeast of Pueblo Summit.

Dynamite prospect

The Dynamite prospect is about 1,000 feet north of the Powder prospect.

Hercules prospect

The Hercules prospect is about 0.6 mile southwest of the Golden Hand mine.

Werdenhoff mine area page 241

The Werdenhoff mine and numerous small lode prospects are near North Fork Smith Creek, between Pueblo Ridge and main Smith Creek. None of the prospects are more than one-fourth mile from the Werdenhoff-Golden Hand mine access road. Altitudes range from 6,237 feet at the road junction on Smith Creek to 8,581 feet at the crest of Pueblo Ridge, a distance of about 2 miles.

Werdenhoff mine

The Werdenhoff mine is on the east side of the North Fork of Smith Creek about 1 mile by road from Smith Creek. The original property comprised 21 unpatented claims that included part of the Pueblo group.

The property was located originally by Prindle [Pringle?] Smith and was relocated by Mr. Werdenhoff during the Thunder Mountain boom (1902-05). Most development work was done by Keystone Gold Mines, Inc., in 1927-34. The Werdenhoff Mining Co. of Tacoma, Wash., was incorporated in 1952. They filed a report with the Idaho Inspector of Mines in 1958 listing 33 unpatented claims for the property. Jack Walker of Vale, Oreg., purchased the milling equipment and located several claims in 1967.

Several buildings, including a 25-ton-per-day mill, are on the property. Mill equipment includes a jaw crusher, 5-stamp mill, rod mill, two concentrating tables, jig, diesel engine, assorted pumps, screens, and miscellaneous equipment. Lack of wear on the crushing equipment, together with the small amount of mill tailing, indicates that little ore was processed. A 1,250-foot-long tramway that was constructed between the mill and adits in 1932 has since been removed.

Pueblo group

The Pueblo group of claims is about one-half mile west of Pueblo Summit. Exploratory work consists of three distinct sets of workings. Several log cabins have been built. Mining claim records date from 1902. The deteriorated condition of the mine camp and the caved workings indicate that little has been done since the early 1900’s.

Blue Stone prospect

The Blue Stone prospect, formerly part of the Werdenhoff mine group, was relocated by Wilbur Wiles in 1969. It is about one-fourth mile northeast from the mouth of the North Fork of Smith Creek.

Other lode prospects page 248

Lost Packer prospect

The Lost Packer prospect is about three-fourths mile northwest of Pueblo Summit.

July Blizzard prospect

Exploration work on the July Blizzard prospect consists of four caved pits located about one-half mile northwest of Pueblo Summit.

Queen prospect

The Queen prospect is on Pueblo Ridge midway between the Lost Packer and July Blizzard prospects.

Black Swan prospect

The Black Swan prospect is one-half mile S. 30° E. from the Werdenhoff mine. It was part of the original Werdenhoff mine group staked by C. Werdenhoff in 1902.

Hilltop prospect

The Hilltop group of claims is about 1 mile northwest of the Werdenhoff mine.

Snow Drift prospect

The Snow Drift prospect is 1 mile north of the Werdenhoff mine.

T. T. claim

The T. T. claim is on the crest of Pueblo Ridge about one-fourth mile northwest of Pueblo Summit.

Wabash prospect

The Wabash 1 and 2 claims are about three-fourths mile north of the Werdenhoff mine. Two old cabins and two caved adits are on the property.

Lucky Boy prospect

The Lucky Boy claim is about one-fourth mile southwest of the Wabash prospect.

West Extension prospect

The West Extension prospect is about three-fourths mile northwest of the Werdenhoff mine.

Crest prospect

The Crest prospect is about one-fourth mile north of the Werdenhoff mine.

Area south of Smith Creek page 249

Six lode prospects were examined in the rugged area bounded by Smith Creek on the north and the ridge crest that forms the district boundary on the south. Principal access to the area is the road along Smith Creek.

Rocket (White Bluff) prospect

Several minor scheelite (CaWO3) occurrences are found on the Rocket (White Bluff) claims about 1 mile southwest from the junction of the Smith Creek and Werdenhoff mine roads.

The original group of six lode claims was located as the White Bluff group in 1953 by Wilbur Wiles of Big Creek, Idaho, and later sold to the Werdenhoff Mining Co. Mr. Wiles relocated part of the claims as the Rocket group in 1971.

D. D. prospect

The D. D. prospect is less than 1 mile south of the mouth of the North Fork Smith Creek. Claims covering the prospect area were staked by D. T. Davis in 1906.

Other lode prospects page 251

Lakeside prospect

The Lakeside prospect, which lies at an altitude of 8,550 feet, is at the head of a cirque about one-half mile southwest of Placer Lake. It was staked recently by Wilbur Wiles of Big Creek, Idaho.

Placer Lake prospect

The Placer Lake prospect is on the ridge crest one-half mile north of Placer Lake.

Summer-trail prospect

The Summertrail prospect is one-fourth mile south from the mouth of the North Fork of Smith Creek.

Gold Hill group

Prospect workings on the claims are along the south side of the Smith Creek road about 1 mile from the Werdenhoff mine road junction.

McFadden Point area page 252

Five lode prospects are known in the McFadden Point area. Four of them are grouped together less than 1 mile west of McFadden Point at altitudes ranging from 7,500 to 8,000 feet. The fifth prospect is on the north side, of Big Creek, 1 1/2 miles southeast of the other prospects, at an altitude of about 5,000 feet.

Hollister prospect

The Hollister prospect, locally known,as the Hollister mine, is 1,000 feet west of McFadden Point. It is.the besi explored prospect in the McFadden Point area.

Other lode prospects page 253

Dagnapan prospect

The Dagnapan prospect is three-fourths mile northwest of McFadden Point.

Hillside prospect

The Hillside prospect is 1 mile west of McFadden Point.

Trio group

The Trio group of five lode claims is three-fourths mile northwest from McFadden Point.

Tenderfoot prospect

The Tenderfoot prospect is on the north side of Big Creek, approximately 1 mile, by road, east of the Smith Creek bridge.

Excerpted from:
Mineral Resources of the Idaho Primitive Area and Vicinity, Idaho
By F. W. Cater, D. M. Pinckney, W. B. Hamilton, and R. L. Parker, U.S. Geological Survey, and by R. D. Weldin, T. J. Close, and N. T. Zilka, U.S. Bureau of Mines
With a section on the Thunder Mountain District
By B. F. Leonard, U.S. Geological Survey, and a Section on Aeromagnetic Interpretation by W. E. Davis, U.S. Geological Survey
Studies Related to Wilderness Primitive Areas
Geological Survey Bulletin 1304 : 1973
Library of Congress catalog card No. 73-600164
An evaluation of the mineral potential of the area
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Geologic Map of the Central and Lower Big Creek Drainage, Central Idaho

GeoMapBigCreekDrainage-a(click image to get large pdf file)
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Wilbur Wiles

Wilbur Wiles has lived in the Idaho back country since 1936. He moved to the Big Creek area when the CCC completed the road.
(from interview with Mr. Wiles by visitor to Big Creek Airstrip)

Picture of Wilbur taken by Hilda Hansen in the 1950s / 60s photo shared by Jim Collord
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Link to Wilbur Wiles stories

Idaho History Feb 21, 2016 (updated recently)
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Fog over Wilbur Wiles’ Cabin at Big Creek.

Photo by Marcia Franklin. Outdoor Idaho August 25, 2016
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Edwardsburg and Big Creek Area (1974)

(map source “Southern Idaho Ghost Towns” by Wayne C. Sparling)

Today, Yellow Pine is the jumping off point for the Big Creek and Thunder Mountain areas. A favorable location, coupled with a reasonably light snowfall, made Yellow Pine a natural site for a settlement, and for years a genial Mr. Behne operated the store and post office. When the road from Yellow Pine to Edwardsburg was completed in 1933, it was a great boon to the miners and ranchers along Big Creek. The Edwards ranch, with a post office under the name of Edwardsburg, served the remote Big Creek country for many years. The Edwards were Southern aristocracy who migrated north during the later years of the mining rush and took up a homestead near the mouth of Logan Creek. While Mrs. Edwards ran the post office, Mr. Edwards became interested in the mining game, holding claims at Copper Camp and for a time operating the Sunday and Moscow mines on Logan Creek.

Placer mining down in the meadows along Big Creek was undertaken by the Golden Placer Mining Company. A short ways up from the mouth of Smith Creek is the old camp of the Smith Creek Hydraulic Mining Company, farther on is the huge mill at the Werdenhoff Mine, and at the head of Smith Creek is the Independence Mine, located in 1898. Ramey Ridge, the Golden Hand, Copper Camp, and the Snowshoe Mine were all names familiar to the miners along Big Creek.

Big Creek Store and Big Creek Ranger Station are now the centers of activity for the valley. The road in from Yellow Pine is good as far down Big Creek as the mouth of Smith Creek. Beyond there it gets very rough and narrow, possibly the most miserable road Idaho has to offer. Another road leads from Big Creek to Warrens so that a loop drive can be made from Yellow Pine to Big Creek, up over Elk Summit and down across the South Fork of the Salmon River to Warrens and back out to McCall. Elk Summit, where alpine flowers still bloom in August, affords a panoramic view of Idaho’s intriguing back country. Past Elk Summit the descent into the South Fork seems almost unending; long before you reach the valley floor, you’ll swear there’s an odor of brimstone in the air. Finally the road does level off a bit and crosses the river on a good steel bridge, only to begin the long climb back up through the fragrant pines to Warrens.

excerpted from Chapter 5 “Southern Idaho Ghost Towns” by Wayne C. Sparling 1974
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Edwardsburg and Big Creek (c.) 1982

Photo from “The Idaho Rambler” by Betty Derig & Flo Sharp, Copyright March 1982

Scenic drive from Yellow Pine to Edwardsburg and Big Creek

On to Big Creek and a ribbon of road that winds around hairpin curves and a profile grade that will keep you wide awake. However, the feeling of wilderness compensates for the mountain miles. You look down to cascading white water and up to craggy peaks; reel in the forest of pines and tamaracks, the quaking aspens and small, flowered meadows that come as brief surprises.

Finally you reach the old settlement of Edwardsburg and a mile beyond that you round a corner and a break in the woods exposes Big Creek Lodge.

Almost every map of Idaho marks this little settlement, yet it qualifies as neither a city or town. It is a rustic lodge, long an outpost on the fringe of the Primitive Area in the Salmon River drainage.

Nearly 60 years ago the hand-hewn cabin (now enlarged) served as Headquarters for the Forest Service. Now, with newer Forest Service buildings 1/2 mile away, Big Creek lodge caters to the back country hiker and fisherman, hunter and miner.

Big Creek hasn’t changed much since 1923 when Jake and Eric Jansen split the logs for the little Forest Service camp. A few more summer people come in now and a mountain-meadow airport reminds us that we are late in the Twentieth Century. The cook at the lodge says she can tell who is coming to dinner by the color of the airplane.

Communication with the outside is mostly by radio although the sprinkling of mountain residents can ring each other on big wooden wall phones, 1920 vintage. This may be one of the few places where you talk after cranking out two shorts and a long….

Mining brings more activity to the area now with a lot of heavy equipment coming in for the old Golden Hand and Yellow Jacket Mines just outside the borders of the Primitive Area. The old ways continue, however. Dave Stucker came riding down the road with his pack string headed for Chamberlain Basin. According to one of the wranglers, John Turner, each summer they set up at least nine camps and guide 40 parties or more on hunting and fishing trips in the primitive area. The core of the business is the permanent herd of 2,000 elk that roams the back country.

However, you don’t need a guide to find several interesting nearby places. Hike approximately 3 miles to Logan Lake to catch some big rainbows. Inquire at Big Creek Lodge for directions….

A public campground is less than 1/2 mile from Big Creek Lodge. Turn off the main road just before the airport and you will find an attractive wooded area by a small creek. No hook-ups. Watch for deer along the creek and by the salt lick near the barn.

Excerpted from “The Idaho Rambler” Copyright March, 1982 by Betty Derig and Flo Sharp
ISBN 0-9609754 Printed in the USA by Lithocraft Inc. Boise, Idaho
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Edwardsburg Fire Station


(unknown provenance)

page updated September 25, 2020