Idaho History July 10, 2022

1930 Bradley Meadow Creek Report

Yellow Pine Venture
Gold Antimony Quicksilver
F. W. Bradley
June 1930

[courtesy Sandy McRae (personal correspondence) May 17, 2019 h/t Scott Amos]


May 21, 1930 – Snowstorm at Meadow Creek

Snowstorm of May 21, 1930 – Meadow Creek Camp

May 1930 – Rock slide over which Redwood Pipe Line Passes

June 1930 – Looking South up East Fork. Monday Camp in distance.

June 1930 – Meadow Creek Camp, looking East

Enlarged View of Monday Camp

[Monday Camp]

June 1930 – Monday Camp, looking West

June 1930 – Looking West, down on Monday Camp

June 1930 – Monday Camp. Snow Mt. (center) will be penetrated by Cinnabar Tunnel.

June 1930 – Monday Camp, Portal Cinnabar Tunnel

June 1930 – Monday Camp, Portal Cinnabar Tunnel

June 1930 – Temporary Quarters, Monday Camp

June 1930 – Monday Camp; Dump from Monday Tunnel

June 1930 – Looking up South Meadow Creek Project

June 1930 – South Meadow Creek Project Dam

June 1930 – South Meadow Creek Project Dam

June 1930 – Meadow Creek Camp – Looking West up Meadow Cree. Road to Sawmill and Power Plant in foreground

June 1930 – Meadow Creek Camp

June 1930 – North Tunnel Mountain and Monday Creek

June 1930 – Mountain West of Meadow Creek

June 1930 – Mountain West of Monday Camp

June 1930 – Power Plant Site on Sugar Creek

June 1930 – Junction of Sugar Creek (left) and the East For of the South Fork of Salmon River

June 1930 – Junction Quartz Creek (right) with East Fork

June 1930 – Junction of East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River (left) with Johnson Creek (right)
Dam site for Yellow Pine Power Project

June 1930 – Yellow Pine Project; Timber

June 1930 – Yellow Pine Project. East Fork of the South Fork of Salmon River below Johnson Creek.

June 1930 – Footbridge over East Fork of the South Fork of Salmon. Government will put on auto bridge here. Below Yellow Pine.

June 1930 – East Fork above Yellow Pine

Meadow Creek Mine Hope Camp – Monday Tunnel
July 1930 #73 Nock Photo

Aug 1930 – Sugar Creek Power House

Aug 1930 – 28″ Redwood Pipe

Aug 1930 – Grade for Redwood Pipe

Aug 1930 – Grade for Redwood Pipe

Aug 1930 – Monday Camp

Aug 1930 – Monday Camp

Aug 1930 – Monday Camp

Aug 1930 – Meadow Creek Camp

Aug 1930 – Meadow Creek Camp
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Stibnite History From The Boise National Forest

The Stibnite area was prospected during the Thunder Mountain rush (1902-1905) but developed slowly. Some likely outcrops of antimony were uncovered, as were some veins that showed brick-red streaks of cinnabar, the commercial ore of mercury. Many claims were staked; but the severity of the terrain, the tough, snow-swept, below-zero winters, and the long, roadless distance to a source of necessary camp supplies discouraged most people. Pringle Smith and Albert Hennessey were among the few that stayed and worked the area. During World War I, when mercury for the munitions industry was at a premium, Stibnite came to life again briefly. Some mining was done; some flasks of mercury were shipped and marketed. But it was impossible to get needed mining machinery into the mountains and almost impossible to get the mercury out.

J. J. Oberbillig envisioned development at Stibnite. He spent the years between 1921 and 1927 consolidating the small individual claims, sampling, testing, and blocking out ore that would prove the extent and validity of the veins. He interested Fred W. Bradley in the project, and Bradley took over in 1927. Only hand tools had been used for the exploratory work. There was one small cabin on the property and there were only two trails in. One, the Johnson Creek Trail, crossed high mountains and then a bad stretch known as No Man’s Land, and came down Meadow Creek twelve miles to the single cabin. The other trail followed the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River. Neither was easy to travel.

Bradley installed a mountain telephone line to Yellow Pine. During the summer of 1928, packers brought in 385 tons of machinery and equipment with mules, and they were using 75 head in the packing operation by fall. They could make one round trip between Yellow Pine and Stibnite in a day, and they packed in everything: mining equipment, construction equipment, food. In 1928, the Forest Service started building the road from Yellow Pine and got as far as the East Fork bridge. Bradley started building at Stibnite and reached Salt Creek. Meanwhile, George Stonebreaker, a contractor, hauled 85 tons around on the old Thunder Mountain road. Two steam boilers, one for the sawmill and one for the mine air compressor, were hauled by truck to Twin Bridges and then, with trucks pushing and pulling and aided by four mules, up the Thunder Mountain road to Riordan. There they were unloaded, put on skids, and dragged down the mountain to Stibnite. The load had to be anchored at times to keep it from getting away, and much of the lowering had to be accomplished by the use of block and tackle and snubbing lines thrown around tree trunks.

By 1929 motor trucks were replacing the old pack trains, and by 1930 a hydroelectric plant had been installed and mining machinery was switched over to electric power. A small landing field was cleared. Stonebreaker, who held the government mail contract, retired his dogteam winter postal service to Yellow Pine in favor of a new airplane. The dogs had required three days for the trip from Cascade. The plane was handy for carrying both passengers and light freight in and out of the mountains.

In 1931, the sawmill turned out more than a million feet of lumber for mine and building work; the powerplant was enlarged and rebuilt; a public school was started; and an assay office was completed, as were a post office, numerous warehouses, and new cook and bunk shacks. At the mine, a new record for speed in mine-tunnel driving was established: during the month of August, the Monday tunnel was advanced 663.6 feet. The tunnel, in hard granite, was six by eight feet in the clear where no timber was used and seven by nine feet where timber was required. Three shifts of six men each made the record drive, using two machine drills mounted on crossbars.

Yellow Pine had been a mountain wilderness in 1927; by the end of 1931, it was a modern, busy mining community. And in 1936, Arthur Campbell, Idaho State Inspector of Mines, was able to write in his annual report: “This property led the State in the production of gold for 1936…. Supplies are trucked in from Cascade and concentrates are shipped from that point. In winter, transportation is by airplane. The ore is antimony-gold….

Another wartime mercury shortage, during World War II, helped to make the Stibnite area the second largest producer in the United States in 1943. Important tungsten deposits came into production in 1944, and during the war Stibnite was the leading tungsten producer in the United States. Total yields for the active period, 1932-1952, amounted to $24,000,000 in antimony, $21,000,000 in tungsten $4,000,000 in gold, $3,000,000 in mercury, and $1,000,000 in silver.

History of the Boise National Forest 1905-1976
By Elizabeth M. Smith
pages 14-15
link: (in case the above link goes bad)
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Monday Camp 1931

photo courtesy Sandy McRae
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“Monday Camp Site. Built originally in the 1930s the camp was expanded during World War II operations. The site housed warehouses, a generator, shop building and boarding house. Scattered building remains and foundations are evident.”

from: National Register Of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form

Further Reading

Link to Index for Stibnite History Stories