Idaho History Aug 7, 2022

1950 Stibnite Letter

Letter from J.J. Oberbillig to J. D. Bradley

October 13, 1950

Mr. J. D. Bradley
Executive Vice President
Bradley Mining Company
Stibnite, Idaho (Mailed to Bradley Field, Boise.)

Dear Mr. Bradley:

In order to complete the list of questions submitted by you for the school children, concerning the history of the Stibnite country, I am going to run off remarks from my memory and besides I will enclose one of my letters to the stockholders dated February 25, 1927, which is just about the time I first submitted the property to your father, F. W. Bradley.

1. The first question, I think, can best be answered by stating that all of the discoveries made in the vicinity of both Stibnite and Cinnabar and the East Fork deposit, which is a great open pit mine on the lower end of the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River, should be credited to the old time prospectors who are the ones that are deserving of this credit for all the discoveries which made it possible for me to outline and follow the strike and courses of these vast and interesting deposits.

2. The Meadow Creek mine at Stibnite was extensively developed by the United Mercury Mines Company and the mining of the ore was undertaken by the Yellow Pine Syndicate during the year of 1931.

3. Both Mr. Bailey and myself planned to name this section of the country for the purpose of obtaining a post office. Our first name was Bradley. After we discovered there was such a post office in Idaho, we decided upon the name of Stibnite.

4. The first road was constructed by the Yellow Pine Syndicate from the Profile Creek to the Meadow Creek mine in Stibnite during the years of 1928-1929.

5. The discovery of antimony and tungsten also dates back to the old time early prospectors, all of which was done on the surface and consisted of shallow open cuts and short tunnels. The first real tungsten deposit was disclosed through the drilling program of both the Bureau of Mines and the Geological Survey.

6. The first adequate machinery was brought over the Thunder Mountain road and down the range following on the West side of South Meadow Creek to the Meadow Creek mine during 1928. This consisted of a 30 Caterpillar Tractor and compressor.

7. The first dog team to be driven into Stibnite was by John Nickelson accompanied by the writer.

8. United Mercury Mines Company.

9. The store was constructed in 1928 by the Yellow Pine Syndicate. The building of the recreation hall, hospital, school house, smelter and airport were done by the Bradley Mining Company under the supervision of John D. Bradley, Executive Vice President.

10. The first mill was constructed by the Yellow Pine Syndicate during the year of 1930, under the direction of Mr. F. W. Bradley.

11. The first mail was carried in from Yellow Pine by the workmen for the United Mercury Mines Company, up to and including the years 1918-1927, and thereafter the mail was carried by dog team either by John Nickelson or whoever desired to make the trip to Yellow Pine.

12. The writer does not recall the name of the first teacher. However, you will note from the enclosed report that for quite a number of years the first school house was in the left wing of the building shown in the picture of the report of February 25, 1927.

13. These places were named under the supervision of the United Mercury Mines Company. There was Meadow Creek, East Fork Deposit, and the Cinnabar Mine.

14. Virgil Adair flew the first airplane into camp and from then on the mail and supplies were carried by airplane through the winter months. First George Stonebreaker, then A. A. Bennett and finally Johnson Flying service from the Cascade airport to the Stibnite airport.

15. There were a lot of bosses during the progress of development of this field. As to the doctors, and nurses, consult the records of the hospital.

16. For first baby born at Stibnite, consult the hospital. Previous to the time of the hospital, the first child may have been one of the William Newell’s.

17. The reservoir above South Meadow Creek was constructed by the Yellow Pine Syndicate under the supervision of George Worthington and Andy Anderson.

18. The Yellow Pine Syndicate constructed the first hydro-electric power plant from the South Meadow Creek reservoir to the mill.

The second power plant was constructed at Sugar Creek during 1929-1930, also by George Worthington and Lloyd C. White.

19. The first settlement in the Stibnite section of the country never exceeded over four men and now and then a woman cook. The first building in Stibnite and Meadow Creek is the one you see in the United Mercury Mines Company report of February 25, 1927.

20. There were several pack outfits that passed through this country but the principal packing to this field in the early days was done by the writer and with a pack string that consisted of anywhere from 8 to 20 horses.

21. This is answered by No. 20 also.

Trusting that the foregoing gives you the information desired I am

Very truly yours,
United Mercury Mines Company
J. J. Oberbillig, President

2 cc enclosed.

courtesy Sandy McRae (personal correspondence)

[*Note: unable to find the letter with the questions he is replying to, or the United Mercury Mines Company report of February 25, 1927.]
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1950 Halloween at the Stibnite School

1951 Stibnite School photo

Stibnite Residents (date unknown)

Stibnite Picnic (date unknown)

Photos courtesy Sandy McRae (personal correspondence)

Further Reading

Link to John D Nicholson A Stibnite Story by Bob Clarkson
Link to 1930 Bradley Meadow Creek Report
Link to 1943 Letters to Stibniters
Link to Stibnite, Idaho 1940s Mining Camp Memories
Link to Stibnite 1949 Radio Script Part 1
Link to Stibnite 1949 Radio Script Part 2
Link to Stibnite 1949 Radio Script Part 3
Link to Stibnite History Index