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- Pardee, MT -
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 Posted: Sat Apr 2nd, 2016 09:14 pm
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jtrain
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While there are abandoned towns all over the west and Northwest, I think I've found a ghost town with a bit of a unique twist.  Pardee Montana was built under the summit of a mountain north of Superior and East of St. Regis.  If those towns sound familiar it's because both the Milwaukee Road and the Northern Pacific ran through the Clark Fork river valley and past these towns. Anyways, the town was located directly at the site of the Iron Mountain Mine.  The Mine claim held lead, zinc and silver in high concentrations along with some gold and copper.  But, the valley was too narrow for a larger mill, so the mill was built further down in the valley.  To make transporting the ore from the mine to the mill easier, a narrow gauge railroad was built and used one or two porter engines.  If following the creek, the distance was only about  1/2 mile or so, but the train line took roughly a mile of track to make the grade.

The mine was producing good amounts of minerals, but a new Montana state law in 1897 required at least two mine shafts for every active mine and a second shaft couldn't be built in the Iron Mountain mine.  So by 1898 (I'm guessing) the site was completely abandoned and the mine closed.  Residents would have likely moved down the mountain to the Clark Fork River at the town of Superior.  However, according to a historical context made up by the State of Montana, in 8 years the mine produced over a half million dollars (in 1890 dollars) and hence was one of the most profitable in the state.  According to the article, the final 27 carloads was worth $50 dollars per ton.  Despite this, I doubt the mine would have lasted long into the 20th Century since nearly all the ore veins on Montana are highly concentrated, but quite shallow.  Mines would spring up, make their profit, and then be forced to move on within a few years.

In order to shave a couple of paragraphs off of this post, I'll just give some trivial facts:

--If you calculate for inflation, one US dollar in 1890 would be worth about $25 today.  Overall the mine made the equivalent of 12.7 million dollars (I forgot to mention earlier that is the net profit after deducting the cost of building the town and mine).

--The Mine employed between 100 and 125 people at any one point, so the town probably held around 200 people total, 300 perhaps at it's height.

--The town quickly grew from the initial settlement in 1888, by 1890 the article said that the town had a saloon, multiple gambling halls, a Union hall (for the miners) and a post office.

--The tramway, as made clear in some photos I've found of the town, did not carry passengers.  Pardee is very close to Superior (looks like it's only about 4 miles or so) therefore the town would have used a trail to get in and out of the town as well as obtain supplies and ship out the ore.

--The town was partially destroyed in the 1930s by a forest fire, and no doubt some structures were lost in the Mullen Fire of 2013 (the town sits right in the middle of the fire area)

All this info I've obtained from an article written by the State of Montana that gives a lot of information.  Through this article, I was able to pinpoint the town's location on Google Maps and will be making a run at finding this town next weekend if the whether cooperates.  Here's the article:

Montana DEQ

Photos in the next post.

--James



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 Posted: Sat Apr 2nd, 2016 09:39 pm
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jtrain
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And here are the photos as promised.  Copyright is owned by the Mineral County Historical Society, and the University of Montana.  These photos are part of the larger Robert Pearson collection.  I've pulled the photos from Narrow Gauge Chaos:


This is the tailing dump at the top of the incline, or built on a spur somewhere in the middle.  As near as I can tell the gauge is 3 foot.  Unless there is a typo or grammatical error in the description of this photo, the engine's name is apparently "Helena".  The train line was only about a mile of track, so I doubt there was more than two locomotives operating the track.



This is Pardee prior to 1896-97 when the mine closed. 



Here is the mining train coming up from the Mill, which would have been down in the valley around the bend.  The road in the lower right is the trail into and out of town for residents.

Another shot of the railway.  The concentrator for the mine is the dark building situated right next to the tracks to the left of the train.  The town is situated above the concentrator (probably for cleaner water and less chance of flooding)  Judging by the shadows, this gulch (Hall gulch to be exact) faces south.



Here we see the concentrator (although I can't tell if this is at Pardee or at the bottom of the valley).



Here are some maintenance buildings for the mine situated near the top of the track.



This image confirms what I didn't know a couple photos before.  That trestle at the top of the concentrator is the end of the tramway, or atleast the spur.  The train must have had another way to the bottom of the concentrator to carry heavy equipment up the mountain to the town. Photo was taken after the abandonment of the mine


While the mine was closed in 1897, the concentrator was kept up and used during a couple of attempts to extract more ore.  So while the initial mine and Pardee was abandoned, new shafts must have been drilled and the train could have still operated, as evidenced by the still-standing trestle and dump bins.

There are more photos available of the Concentrator and the town of Superior.

I'm going to make a few attempts to find and photograph the town. later on.

--James

Last edited on Sat Apr 2nd, 2016 09:42 pm by jtrain



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 Posted: Sun Apr 3rd, 2016 04:42 am
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jtrain
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After more research, there should still be ruins on the mountain from Pardee, the Iron Mountain Mine, and the railway.  Here are a couple of links that provides information

Ghost Towns <-- Shows a couple photos of the ore bin, but the story line is not accurate.

Google Books  <-- An online preview of a book on Montana's Mining Ghost Towns.  Pardee is mentioned along with Louisville and Keystone, both are nearby.

And, after looking at the photos more closely, I've come to realize that the mill was fed by a large chute, and the trestle for the train was located several hundred feet up the mountain.  The first photo I listed which showed the mill had a large chute and a structure on a point that juts out from the mountain.  That appears to be the same rock formation that the trestle rests on as seen in the photo where the train was posed over the dump bins.  Tailings would have been dumped off the end of the trestle and safely away from the mill.

Also, while looking at the same photo, the train is most definitely 3 foot gauge and the words "Helena" are written on the side of the boiler.  Not only that, as I look through the photos it's apparent that there was a run-around somewhere on the line since the ore cars (and there couldn't have been more than a dozen ore cars) are seen both in front and behind the locomotive.  Engine facilities did not include a turntable or a wye, but did have a shop or engine house to service the locomotive and cars.

Other great news is that the weather is clear and hot(ish) for the next few days, so this south-facing gulch should be free of snow by Saturday.

--James;)



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 Posted: Sun Apr 3rd, 2016 04:56 am
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W C Greene
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Far-friggin-out photos! Love the little Porter on the trestle...great mines...any more?

Woodie



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 Posted: Sun Apr 3rd, 2016 08:15 am
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NevadaBlue
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Really nice photos and history. Thanks for posting it. That place is begging to be modeled. I agree with Woodie about the Porter on the trestle, great picture.



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 Posted: Sun Apr 3rd, 2016 09:16 am
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jtrain
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Thanks Woodie and Ken.  I've got to agree that in an age where taking a photograph was a painstaking process, these photos are amazing quality.  The best part about this prototype is that it is beautiful, compact, and simple, making it a very model able prototype.  You could probably do the entire tram run exactly to scale in On30 or you could adapt it for more varied operations.  As near as I can tell, this train line had at most two locomotives and about a dozen cars, so it leaves a lot of potential for expansion.  For instance, what if the mining company decided to open a second shaft?  They'd have had at least another 5 years of operation and could have expanded the line to hit other areas of the silver vein.  If you ask me, this is an incredible and unique find so it's worth it to climb the mountain and search for artifacts.

I have yet to find more info, but I reckon that the Historical Society in Superior would have information that could be useful.  Otherwise, I found a series of three Youtube videos from an old television show that ran a short series on the Ghost Towns of Idaho and Montana.  Part III includes brief footage of some remains.  here's the link:  Ghost Towns of Idaho and Montana #3 

If you have a spare 20 minutes or so, it's a fun video to sit and watch these gentlemen drive through all these little ghost towns.  I count myself lucky to be within a day's drive of most of them.


--James

Last edited on Sun Apr 3rd, 2016 10:18 am by jtrain



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 Posted: Sun Apr 3rd, 2016 09:47 am
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I did just run across another piece of information that ties up the mine's story when the train was operational.  I've found the digitalized copy of the Mine Inspector's report from December 1st, 1897.  Page 33 and 34 has a paragraph that describes in great detail the Iron Mountain Mine and it's operations.  Here is the paragraph verbatim:

"Iron Mountain Mine, situated at Pardee, owned and operated by the Iron Mountain Mining Co.; Rob't Angus, Superintendent and Manager, Chas. Roat, Foreman.  Has employed in the past year seventy five miners and sixteen topmen [those that work on the surface] .  Operations are conducted through a tunnel 875 feet long, from which is sunk a two compartment shaft 1090 feet deep.  From the tunnel level to the surface is 700 feet, making the depth attained 1790 feet.  The mine is equipped with a 125 H.P.  Ledgerwood engine, 1 1-8 inch steel rope and double deck safety cage.  Tunnel sets and half sets is the system employed in timbering, though around the chutes and manways it has been found necessary to fill the space between the walls with timbers to keep them open.  The ore is silver and lead and is concentrated before shipping.  Ventilation is not good.  The management, anticipating closing down, allowed the air course and escape way to squeeze so badly that is was useless for either purpose.  The Iron Mountain Mine has been one of the most faithful producers in the State, yielding its wealth in dividend paying quantities for a long period of time, and is ready to continue doing so when the price of the metals will warrant the owners in expending a sum sufficient to equip the mine for future development."

--Annual Report of the Inspector of Mines in the State of Montana, December 1st, 1897.

Here is the link:  Annual Report of the Inspector of Mines in the State of Montana

--James



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 Posted: Sun Apr 3rd, 2016 10:10 am
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jtrain
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I've also just dug into another historical record that lists the dividend paying mines in the area.  So here's some numbers that might give us an idea of how big and financially involved the mine was:

Iron Mountain Mine, Pardee Montana

Latest Quota n's per share:  0.85
Current value of Mine:  425,000
Number of shares: 500,000
Par value: 10
Capital Stock value: 5,000,000
Last Assessment date: not assessable
Assessment's per share: n/a
Number of assessments: n/a
total assessments to date: n/a
Last Dividend Date of Payment: Feb 23, 1891
Per share: 0.05
Number of Dividend: 5
Total dividend paid: 115,000

Considering I'm not a money-savvy person, I have no idea what most of this means other than that these all have to do with how much the mine is worth and how much money investors have made investing in the mine.  But these numbers do represent the mine in 1891, at the height of the mine's activity.

Here is the link to that document:

Financial and Mining Record Volume 30

--James



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 Posted: Sun Apr 3rd, 2016 10:49 am
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While I have yet to find more photos, I have located and scanned the site from Google Maps.  Here are my findings:



This first image shows the lay of the land.  In the lower left corner is Superior which lies along the Clark Fork river and had both the Milwaukee Road and the Northern Pacific serving the town.  I-90 travels east-west through the valley.  North is pointed toward the top of the image.

This image is rotated to better fit the screen, with North pointing to the right.  The large white area in the left box is the ruins of the old mill.  The yellow line drawn between the boxes would be approximately where the train would have ran and the yellow box on the right being the location of the town site and mine.

This image focuses on the mill site.  The pile is likely the remains of the mine and if you look close, you can see the remains of the chute below the yellow line. It also appears that more buildings were built along the road headed up the creek.

On top of the knoll that juts out from the mountain base sits the old ore bin as seen in the picture that Woodie likes from the post with all the historical photos in it.  The yellow line shows the path the chute took downhill to the mine.  This structure is located uphill and slightly northeast of the mill site. 

Headed up the creek and around the side of the mountain I can clearly see the mine site.  It doesn't look like much structure survives, but the foundation (if you could call it a foundation) is still intact.  The town would be located to the right of the image, but there are too many trees to tell how much survives.

Looks like I'm about set to go find this place in-person!

--James




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 Posted: Mon Apr 4th, 2016 02:35 am
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Great information. This line can be the proto inspiration for the Porter only level of the 5x15 On30 layout in my storage unit.

Just ordered the book in Very Good Used condition on Amazon Prime for $10 -- it will be at my house waiting for me when we return mid-month.

Thanks for sharing.

Bill Uffelman
Ocean View Delaware

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