Idaho History Dec 15, 2019

The Prospector and Thunder Mountain News November 5, 1904

courtesy Sandy McRae and Jim Collord

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The Prospector and Thunder Mountain News

Volume 1. Roosevelt, Idaho, November 5, 1904 Number 2


Facts About the First Boom and What Followed

by C. E. Eddy

Before proceeding to write of the developments of Thunder Mountain as they are progressing today we will frankly delineate its past. It is too great and wonderful a country to be injured at this time by telling the whole truth of its history. How thousands of tenderfeet rushed in and then rushed out in the great “hotfoot” stampede of two years ago. How hundreds trampled over hidden fortunes and condemned the country because gold was not laying about loose in chunks as certain romancers had led them to suppose. Our first boom and its consequences were little less than what has occurred in the beginning of every great mining camp.

Cripple Creek, Colorado, had its stampedes and for two years was condemned as the biggest mining fake ever perpetrated. Written reports by 35 prominent experts characterizing the camp as a fake are on file in Denver today as evidence against these men if they ever try to pose as experts in Colorado again. Cripple Creek has produced $165,000,000. Leadville Colorado has a similar history, with $200,000,000 now to its credit. Calico California, though, for a time, much condemned has produced $10,000,000. Cottonwood and Mercer Utah were even laughing stocks for years but have attained a record of $20,000,000. The great Rand of South Africa was at first emphatically turned down by experts considered the best in the world and sent out specially by the British government. We leave the reader to figure reasons for such mistakes, citing only a few instances out of many. We must proceed to speak of a special instance; the great Thunder Mountain stampede of 1902.

The First Fame

The fame of Thunder Mountain dates from the time that Col. Dewey took up the bond on the Caswell properties and paid over $100,000. By this action interest was awakened. Events began to multiply. Developments even then gave indication of wonders. Such immensity of ore bodies in a country so remote and inaccessible became a theme for romancers. What many writers lacked in facts they made up from imagination. They pictured the Thunder Mountain country to be a golconda of wealth beyond the wildest dreams. East and West the newspapers were full of it. Those of Idaho, in particular, quite naturally said all they could for the new camp. Every town in Idaho from Bear Lake to the British line was being boomed as the best outfitting point for the great Thunder Mountain, which was meanwhile shrouded in the winter snow of 1901-2. At that time men who had even seen Thunder Mountain were objects of great interest, and those alleged to have claims in the great camp were looked upon with awe, they were never allowed to pay for the drinks, and no doubt could board indefinitely, if desired, without having to pay bills, for who would presume to speak of a few dollars in presence of a man owning claims in Thunder Mountain. Everybody wanted to be put “next” to a Thunder Mountain bonanza.

Sunrise in Central Idaho. Sketched by the News Artist.

10,000 Tenderfeet

Spring approached and 10,000 tenderfeet tackled the trails, with ponies, mules and burros laden with some necessary and a great deal of needless plunder. There were, in fact, some well-to-do tenderfeet said to have had ice cream freezers, Brussels carpet and porcelain bath tubs in the great stampede. Applications for saloon license in the Thunder Mountain country totaled 160. One saloon keeper disappointed at not getting all the way in with his liquors laid down by the way-side and drank himself to death (this occurred at Stanley Basin, May, 1902.) A man in Salt Lake City took a large caliber gun and blew his head off because he did not have money enough to come to Thunder Mountain. [See Salt Lake papers spring of 1902.] Some thousands of men reached Thunder Mountain after great difficulty, crossing snow and swollen streams in the early spring. They located the country for miles, but as little wealth was lying around loose they waited for capital to come and present them a few thousand for their surface holdings. They would not dig. They were soon discouraged and went hence sacrificing outfits, etc., until mules and pack saddles became a dreg on the market.

Unacquainted with Tufa

Thunder Mountain had been a craze, not so much among people of judgment and means who could derive benefit by developing the resources of a mining camp, but among a class seeking immediate betterment of their own conditions – and aggregation of crusaders somewhat akin to Coxie’s army. They had little spare means of coarse, no experience to apply with success in this strange new field. Ninety-five per cent. of them did not know porphyry from “pummy stone” or volcanic tufa from the accumulations in a cow corral. They evidently expected gold to grow on trees in this country. In fact, gold does grow on the trees that are imprisoned in the tufa beds but these were passed over by the “hot-footers” in their great haste to get rich, go home and live happy ever after. Failing in this they sighed for the sight of alfalfa fields, for level stretches of railroad where walking was good or for the old familiar hills where they could get $1.50 per day for herding sheep. At any rate they longed to get away; find some convenient cross-roads saloon, drink bad whisky and curse Thunder Mountain to their hearts content.

Merit Wins

This kind of boom was perhaps a detriment to those who participated but it could not detract from intrinsic values of the camp. It may have been somewhat retarded development and incoming capital but the companies here kept on. The real miners and men of staying qualities continued to make valuable discoveries and additions to the district. Today despite all adverse opinions the Thunder Mountain country is paramount among all new gold camps and with unshaken confidence can challenge the most competent investigation of the mining world.

A Strange Gold Field

This camp cannot be judged by standards which apply elsewhere. No two great camps are alike. But this lesson, as an average, must be emphasized over and over. To look for defined fissures or titled quartz veins in Thunder Mountain, proper, is to be disappointed. You may look all over the surface, there is seldom a pound of ore outcropping – only a lot of debris. There is no familiar iron cropping, no red oxidized quartz, no crystallized quartz to speak of and no defined walls such as “chapter six” of the government statutes says you must have for a valid location. If you do not get to see inside the great mines and have the formation explained you are likely to go away and give the country “a black eye.” But if you search where erosion has removed the debris and where gulches have cut through the strata, you find a grayish mixture that looks like a petrified plum pudding or an ossified dried apple pie. You can’t see how it would assay any better than a last years buzzard nest, but there is where you are mistakes. It is the gray volcanic ash and conglomerate slag from some ancient crater. It underlies the surface for miles and altogether contains enough gold values to build the navies of Europe.

The Prospector’s Luck

What we have depicted, the first discovery, the boom, the excitement, the stampede and the reaction, applies not only to Thunder Mountain. In more or less degree it applies to every mining camp yet discovered. It seems after all a quite necessary, at least a quite natural part of the propaganda of mining progress. “Many are called but few are chosen” applies here as elsewhere. The writer has experienced all the … [ups?] and downs of a [prospector?] … [page torn] … The results are $1,…. worth of gold discoveries in the State of Idaho, though we had not the good fortune to be in the main Thunder Mountain district. Like many prospectors we have sold cheaply while people said we were lucky but we have learned the lesson that prospecting also requires patience. Days, weeks and months pass without apparent results and then suddenly you get it all in one big wad [?] Those who demand immediate riches cannot often succeed especially as prospectors but would do better as stage robbers or government officials. If running a national bank or a newspaper you can count your profits every day, but it is different with prospecting. But once pass [sic] the hard knocks and win success then you are a professional prospector, the happiest and most hopeful cuss on earth, destined to a ripe old age and proof against everything but the gold fever and delirium tremens. Ninety-five per cent of those who go prospecting never put energy enough into their efforts to enable them to find anything. They display such ignorance of how to make a find and put forth so little effort that it may be said without injustice that they do not deserve to find anything. But the genuine prospector seems rather to court hardships and the country that presents the most stubborn obstacles is the one where he seems to be most at home and most in hopes.

See Page Ten [sic]

For a glimpse of some of the great properties as they appear today, read the article entitled, “Peerless Thunder Mountain,” on page six, and subscribe for this paper which will keep you posted on farther developments and progress of Thunder Mountain – the greatest free milling gold camp in America.
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Crime in Custer County.

“Some bold horse thief, who is suspicioned [sic], he being a stranger in this part of the country, deliberately made away with a fine saddle horse, saddle and bridle owned by George Thompson on Sunday evening, Oct. 9th. The animal was tied to Dr. Philps’ fence, and was stolen while Mr. Thompson was attending church. No clue as to the whereabouts of thief has been ascertained up to this time. Some think he was headed for Thunder Mountain, but this is mere supposition. Officers in the surrounding towns were notified by ‘phone to be on the look-out for this fellow.”

The above from the Challis Messenger of Oct. 18th recounts one of those regretable [sic] happenings that makes it hard to live a christian life. We were residents of Custer county for a long time … there too long ago to feel … (page torn) It should not be a matter to discourage the devout to have a horse, saddle and bridle stolen while at prayer; but if they were here there would be no chance of loss on that account. When horses are tied about here their owners go in to take a jolt of “bug juice” and are soon in a condition that incapaciates [sic] them from knowing whether they are a foot or horseback; so they are not conscious of the misfortune of having a horse stolen, for an indefinite lapse of time.

The thief was suspicioned [sic] of coming to Thunder Mountain. This should cause a jury to deal leniently with him in case he be captured, for it would show a decided keenness of judgment on the part of the thief even if the theft was a proof of a lack of moral rectitude. However, we can say with all candor that we were not notified of this foul proceeding in time to aid in the detection and arrest of this villian [sic], and should he now be a member of our growing community, it is probable he is, by this time a rich mine owner, and the taint of a fellony [sic] happening so long ago in a section so remote, could not be used to impair his present high standing.

If the thief were really caught here, no doubt he would feel very badly, when he contemplated the dreary prospect of returning to Challis, even though he knew his daily wants would be supplied gratis, for the conventional period of two years.
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Boys there will be no excuse for not voting for there are plenty of tickets far all, since Mr. Waylands return to camp.
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Peter McKinney, the enterprising butcher, returned to camp on the second with 100 head of fine beef cattle for winter market.

Virgil Richardson, proprietor of the Monumental Store, has a lot of footwear, groceries, staples etc., enroute [sic] for camp. The goods were shipped two weeks ago and are due any day.

Thomas J. Lynch and T. G. Thomas returned to town last Saturday, after enjoying a ten days hunt in the hills 75 miles north of Roosevelt. They succeeded in killing two deer apiece.

S. J. Choat, superintendent of the Gold Bullion Company, owned by the Spears-American Exchange, was in town on the 29th and left his subscription for the NEWS. Mr. Choat says the Gold Bullion is looking fine and work progressing in first-class style.

During an altercation in the Big Amusement Hall last Saturday night, in which the principals were Kid Mitchell, Al. Woods and Al. Green, Mr. Green was struck by Kid Mitchell, the pugilist, and sustained a serious cut over the left eye, and nine stitches had to be taken to close up the wound. The cause of the disagreement was not learned.

Wm. Kreps, superintendent of the Belle company’s freight outfit says regarding the delivery of freight yet to come: “I have just laid down at the Sunnyside mill the first big boiler and am on my return for the other one which will be laid down at its destination in eleven days more. The ballance [sic] we expect as soon as men and horses can bring it in. (page torn) it is all delivered. This will not require more than fifty loads more and thirty-five days time. Mr. Purdham is on his way in and has given orders to rush everything, part and parcel, of the company’s machinery through as fast as possible.

E. S. Mahoney, one of the prosperous Middle Fork ranchers, arrived in town on the 27th of October with a packtrain loaded with vegetables for Goodrich, Schofield & Dutton. Mr. Mahoney has several hundred feet of twelve inch pipe here to take to his ranch with which he intends to increase his supply of water to irrigate his ranch with another season.

Some of the boys the other “wee night” constituted themselves the Amusement Hall quartette [sic] and made the night hideous and the welkin ring with their so-called music. But the best of all was the music recorded by a girl whose name begins with G. and her two friends. The overture of their song for a period of twelve hours was: “Why did they dig ma’s grave so deep?”

L. A. and Nash Wayland returned from Grangevile, the county seat last week, where they heve been for the past three weeks on business and attending district court, in which Mr. Wayland had a suit against the Comstock Gold Mining Co., the Golden Rock and others. In all suits tried Mr. Wayland received decisions in his favor. While there he visited the county commissioners court and they instructed him to bring election supplies for Warm Springs, Warrens, Big creek and Roosevelt.
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Peerless Thunder Mountain.

[A review of the camp by C. E. Eddy.]
[Reproduced by special request.]

Enthroned among a thousand peaks
Snow-crowned and sylvan clad it stands
Alone and thundering bespeaks
It monarch of the mountain lands.

Owing to the comparative newness and peculiar isolation of Thunder Mountain its mineral values are still a matter of conjecture to many who are nevertheless interested to know the facts. Not having opportunity to see for themselves, it requires the testimony of numerous witnesses to convince them. The writer, until recently, was of this class of skeptics; unwilling to believe without a special revelation. This revelation we have obtained by a personal inspection of three great properties, the Dewey, the Sunnyside and the H. Y., and with twenty years of experience in mining camps we confess astonishment and conviction that Thunder Mountain is the gigantic gold camp of the world. There is no end of mines and prospects in the vicinity, but space limits to a mere passing mention.

A Mountain of Ore.

Men accustomed to mere veins of quartz are nonplussed by propositions such as found here. Seven thousand feet of tunnels on the Dewey and the Sunnyside are almost wholly incased in free ore of good milling value, with great masses averaging $30, $50 and even $100 per ton. Also there are pockets and chambers rich with the pure yellow metal. It is well known that the Caswell brothers got twenty-two pounds of gold from a small pocket just before the bond on their properties (page torn) … was taken up by Col W. H. Dewey. Four thousand dollars was taken up by Col W. H. Dewey. Four thousand dollars was subsequently obtained from a small space and we can well testify that several places in the present stopes show to the candle light a lustrous gleam of gold.

Comparisons Set at Naught.

Standards of comparison are set at naught by the immensity of ore bodies bedded in the vast convex of Thunder Mountain. Think of an ore era [sic] four miles in length, a mile and a half wide, 40 feet thick and estimated to average $10 per ton, entirely free. Thousands of stamps must thunder through succeeding generations to reduce these billions into bullion. Still, buried to the southward this great ore bed extends indefinitely. Its extremities are undiscovered. Though strange this all may seem the evidence is strong that such is Thunder Mountain; the famous and destined to increasing fame.

Seeing is Believing.

We first came to Thunder Mountain a month ago. An article at that time on some features of the camp, brought inquiry as to why we said but little of the mines and their values. Our answer is plain: We had not visited the mines then and we positively refrained from endorsing them in print until we could speak from actual proof and observation.

But now that we have seen these properties and explored the utmost depths of their development, we can find no words sufficiently positive to endorse them as the greatest propositions in the mining world. Kalgoorlie, Bellerat and Bendigo, of Australia, The Rand of South Africa or our own great camp of Cripple Creek and later Tonapah, are not the peers of the mighty Thunder Mountain. This fact will soon be proven beyond peradventure.

The Great Dewey.

Let us now speak of The Dewey mine, – a monster of wealth, though but in the preliminary stages of development. Recently we visited this great property in company with Bert Haug, the Sup’t, W. D. Tim, assayer and S. F. Hunt, mineralogist.

Entering by “Blacksmith Tunnel,” 150 feet in $5 ore, we descend to dim chambers where hammer and drill are heard on every hand and where great masses of ore stand somber in the shadows. Here they have blown a chamber, 30 feet wide, forty feet high and 200 feet in length, from ore ranging to $100 per ton. But the mass of mineral wealth is not phased. It still walls away to the Eastward, sturdy and grim, a grey-mottled conglomerate, gleaming here and there with myriads of golden colors. We descend 265 feet below surface and again are giant chambers of gold ore; sturdy and grim as “Hell’s black granite.”

The Wonderful Sunnyside.

Emerging from the depths of the Dewey and journeying a mile and a half we enter the tunnels of The Sunnyside, – a sister mine to the eastward. Here again are the giant masses of ore emerging to the southeast slope and bedded on a wall of Andesite. We traverse through three thousand feet of workings; our candles burn to the socket but the ore extends southward indefinitely, averaging to (page torn) … $53 per ton.

The Remarkable H. Y.

From The Sunnyside we travel 8.000 fest southward to The H.Y. Climax. Entering 500 feet of tunnel we find similar masses of ore still stretching away to the southward where across a canyon is “The Old Crater Mine” with a 1000 foot cliff of ore averaging $8 per ton for 100 feet in height. Hunt, the mineralogist, tells us there is no known southern limit to these gold-bearing bodies of volcanic tufa.

A Wealth Undreamed

But we are weary of ore deposits and return to the town of Roosevelt, where the boys are drinking “bug juice” and tripping with the dance-hall sirens. Bartenders are dealing out the drinks, there is a trump of cards and the rattling whirl of the roulette wheel. It is plain that the people, in the very shadow of this great Thunder Mountain do not begin to realize the future that is in store, when thousands of stamps will thunder by these streams and wealth will flow like water. They do not realize, have not seen; the companies corner everything in sight, but developments will come.

Beginning of a Great Era.

A sturdy stamp mill clatters at The Dewey, another is constructing at the Sunnyside and several are forthcoming for other properties. Sawmills sing at Twentieth Century, The H. Y. and at Belleco. But what is all this compared with what must be in the great future of Thunder Mountain – the monster mills, vast mining excavations, lumber camps, quarries and kilns, the cities and their wealth.

Gold! Gold! Gold! It is the god of the grinding world. Oh but we are starved and baffled and estranged without it. So be it. We will compromise and admit we must have gold. It will make here a mighty prosperity. We will stay and glean our portion. But how came the gold in Thunder Mountain? Let us explain.

Origin of the Ore Beds.

Scientists say that in the long ago before the waters had receded, this mountain chain was ranged beside the sea. This which is now a mountain top was then the lowlands by the ancient ocean. Mayhap a mightier Thunder Mountain then loomed, a lofty landmark by the shore line.

Passively through drifting centuries it gazed upon the sea; upon the billows rolling shoreward to break in spray beneath the tropic sun and the blue, smiling sky. It gazed on gently waving palm groves and gigantic jungles. Perhaps too upon the habitations, the hopes and fears, the loves, the foibles and the fightings of our long-forgotten forefathers.

But anon came wrath and desolation with great rumblings up from creations deeps. The earthquakes shook the world. The mountain crater poured a pall of death as did Vesuvius upon Pompeii and Herculaneum or Mont Peele on the Island of Martinique. Amid great lightnings and grinding thunder there howled the black hurricanes and poured the hot rainstorms. Ooze and slime were precipitated upon a wide era to cool and solidify, forming these great volcanic gold fields. Some subterranean auriferous realm had formed the furnace in which this mass was fused. Man nor beast have left no token from that early time. Only the trees give testimony. These were entombed in the fiery flow and their charred trunks, gold-permeated, lie thick in these Thunder Mountain lavas.

Closed are the first great eras of creation. Gone is the golden morning of the world; risen upon a radiant day, wherein mankind by industry shall glean the wealth stored to their purposes by the wisdom and power and majesty of the Creator, in the long ago.
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(pages 3 and 4 missing)

source: Sandy McRae and Jim Collord (personal correspondence)

Link to Thunder Mountain and Roosevelt index page

Link: Public folder with images of the old newspapers

page updated Feb 28, 2020