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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

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

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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Far-friggin-out photos! Love the little Porter on the trestle...great mines...any more?

Woodie

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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.

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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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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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

jtrain
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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


Bill U
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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

Herb Kephart
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Very interesting, James.

Anxious to see what an on-site inspection reveals.



Herb

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So am I herb, if the snow is gone this weekend should prove to be eventful.  From Google Maps I couldn't see if there was a pathway up the mountain to the old ore bin, but since it's National Forest I can probably just walk up the hill right beside the remains of the old ore chute.

I also figured out that if you look close at the photos of the mill, there was eventually a second tunnel drilled, this time headed horizontally through the mountain. 

Here is the image taken when the train was still in use:



At the very top you can see the trestle and then the chute heading down the mountain to the mill.  That small tower on top of the mill is later used by a narrow gauge mining cart system after the claim was leased following closure of the original mine.  This is evidenced by the other photos of the mill, and were likely taken after the turn of the century:



In this photo you can clearly see that the tower is missing it's large chute, and a new trestle has been built that would have ran to the new tunnel.  Overall that means the train only ran for the 8 years or so that the original mine was open.  It would be nice to figure out where the locomotive and the mining carts went... maybe still on the mountain somewhere?

Who knows, I'll have to find out on Saturday.

Anyways, to add on I recently bought a book that contains information and photos of Pardee as well as neighboring Superior, Keystone and Louisville.  The book is called "Ghost Towns of Montana, A Classic tour Through the Treasure State's Historical Sites".  Author is Donald C. Miller.  ISBN # is: 978-0-7627-4517-3

Here's a link to the book on Amazon:  Ghost Towns of Montana

The Book is 163 pages long and includes both obscure towns, like Pardee, and known ghost towns such as Bannack, Elkhorn, and Virginia City.  I'll have to do a review on it later.

--James

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Also just found out how confusing all this really is.  So to set things straight, the Iron Mountain Mining Company was set up to mine a claim in Hall Gulch, which feeds Flat Creek.  They named the town Pardee, even though Pardee Gulch is over the next ridge.  The mine was then labeled the West Hall Gulch Mine or Hall Gulch Mine.

So then, to save words on an already lengthy series of posts, I found an interactive map that everyone can play with:

Map Carta

Hopefully that should help alleviate potential confusion.

--James

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Of course, Pardee was only a flash in the pan in Montana's history.  The mine and the train only lasted 8 years before being abandoned and made obsolete with new shafts and better equipment.

So if you want to find out more about life in Northwest Montana, I found a blog that chronicles the industry, homesteading, mining, logging, farming, ranching, and of course the railroads that tied it all together:

http://www.behindthesemountains.com/

The person who has assembled this blog goes by the name of Mona Neeson Vanek out of Spokane, Washington.
--James

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Okay, the weekend has finally come!  Tomorrow I will be getting some supplies on my list for exploring this town (which includes a measuring tape in excess of 50ft, tennis balls, SD card for the camera, and a yard stick).  The law is that I can't pick up or walk off with historical artifacts, but I can measure, take pictures, and plant objects nearby so long as I don't disturb the actual artifacts.

My plan here is to first find the site tomorrow, and then spend Saturday exploring the mill ruins, and whatever is left of the town.  I can use the tennis balls to mark the corners of a building footprint, and the tape will be used for measuring.  All this will be documented with pictures so that I can create a map of the area and compare my findings with the historical pictures.  This, thankfully, is possible due to a photographer who must have also thought the tramway was neat, since having around 10 photographs of a town back when the town was only 200 people and film was expensive is a very rare thing.

Wish me luck, this will be a long but exciting weekend.

--James

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Good Luck, James--

Go for it!!


Herb

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Hope you are having fun! Neat idea for marking corners... gotta remember the tennis balls.

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Thanks Ken.  Just got back from visiting the site and I must say, this mountain isn't going to let go of all her secrets!  As you'll see in the photos, the entire mountain-side is covered in thick bushes and being early spring, this is about as clear as the mountain will get.  What I did run across though was the mill/concentrator, remains of the ore chute, 1 standing cabin that seems to be from the same period, two more cabins that are nearly down to the foundation, and a lot of rubble, grates, water pipes, and steel rebar (rebar from a long time ago when it was just a smooth rod.  Near the top of the road where the mine and town site was there was only a few chunks of concrete.

Coming back down the road to the mill I think I found the old roadbed.  The train line is nearly buried from over a century of road maintenance pushing debris down the slope off the switchback, but is there under the rubble.

I also checked out a large flat area that may have also been the townsite, but I'm not sold on that just yet because 1) the town in historical photographs was at the same elevation as the train line and 2) that trainline, if it went to the mill from the flat area, would not be high enough on the mountain to be at the top of the chute.

Overall I will have to take multiple trips into the site in the future.  Perhaps I'll wait for a forest fire (which could happen this season, given the light snow and already 70+ degree days) to clear all the brush out of the area.

Finally, back down at the truck I did another quick pass at the mill and toured the remains of some service sheds by the creek.  Enoguh talk though, here are the photos:





This is the first and most intact building.  I appears to have been a cabin built for mill workers and/or a supervisor.



Some ruins among this large pile indicates that this was the concentrator site.  All the rip-rap is the extra rock debris left over from the concentration process.



On top of the tailing pile sits the remains of the ore chute.





Looking up the hill there is a trail that would follow the chute remains to the top.  If you recall from an earlier post I could clearly make out the ore bin/unloading trestle at the top of this knoll.  Next time I'll have to hike up there but I didn't have the footwear, time, or energy to climb straight up a 60 degree slope.  One thing that didn't chance was the incline of the site, that's for sure!



More remains of the chute



What made the site confusing is all the old trails in the area.  This particular one caught my attention and could have been the roadbed IF the train went to this flat gravel lot that is in the middle of the gulch (we will see the gulch later).



I noticed that our pathway was just about as steep and just as curvy as the wagon road in the historical photos.  From this point on I assumed the roadbed was high above us and the road would meet the roadbed at the town site.

At the top of the trail, the road switchbacks and heads Southeast.  Knowing that I wouldn't get any further than that today, I stopped to look for clues.  Alas the only definite proof that the town site was in this area is this little piece of concrete which used local rocks in the mixture.  I've seen this style of concrete before on the family farm and so this is likely over a century old.  It was found by the side of the trail and could have either been plucked out of the weeds or rolled down the hill in a rainstorm.



The only other thing that we (the figure happens to be my mother who wanted to go on a short hike) found was this shelf built into the hill side that has not been used in ages, as evidenced by the bushes and saplings taking over.  A few yards in the shelf abruptly ended.  Now, if this were the roadbed that could have either been the termination of the track (which I rather doubt) or a bridge that spanned a washout.  From the records there was less than a mile of track, so the town must be less than a mile from the mill, and this was about a mile.



One thing I was looking for was the ridgeline.  Here is a clear view.  If that ridge can be matched with old photos, I know I will be close to where the historical photograph was taken.





Downhill from here is the road, and I was standing on the switchback.  But in the middle foreground you can see a level area that I think was the roadbed.  Shooting straight and level from this point would put this shelf at the same elevation as the ore dump.


It's not any easier to see in this picture, but it shows the challenge I'm up against.  When the forest service widened the road, debris was shoved down the hill so that the roadbed was covered.  None the less, those young trees growing in the middle are on a level section of dirt.  If the trail on the right was the ox cart road, it would make sense since the rail line and road were on the same hill side and only separated by a few yards.


Coming down from the switchback revealed that the rail line would have continued to the upper right of the photograph through the trees.


About 30 yards down the trail from the switch back and my guesstimate roadbed is this pathway that was clearly carved to be a road.  There are 3-4 of this trails, so it's hard to say which one was where the old road went into the town site.



One thing I do know for sure is that the dark object on that distant knoll is yet more remains of the ore chute.  It's far too thick to be a felled tree.  Therefore right about here is where I reckon the rail line would have came through, which again points to the roadbed being between the switchbacks and therefore half-buried.



Coming down though we ran across this, a large, flat bar of rock with marking flags and slate in little piles.  Not only that, but we ran across slightly newer building foundations (evidenced by the cinder block chunks that littlered the ground.  But this was mixed with much older wood.  So while not as high up the valley as expected, this very well could be Pardee.  The only thing that bugs me though is that it is too close (less than 1/4 mile) from the mill site.  If that were the case, then a narrow gauge railway is completely unnecessary.  So I don't think this is Pardee proper, but could have been a place for the miners or mill workers to stay.  None the less, there are artifacts there that pre-date the cinder blocks by a very long time.



Here's a large pile that would probably be mine tailing.

This is at the end of the large rock bar, where the gravel slopes steeply downhill to meet the creek that flows around the West side of the embankment.





Here is one possibility for the roadbed IF the train came to this gravel bar built in the valley.  Still doesn't match the historical photos though.

Back down in the valley by the creek I did another quick look around the site.  Below shows the mill area and remains I stumbled across:















Perhaps this IS all that remains of the town, not the village of Pardee itself but rather the mill, it's support buildings, a couple of old trails, and a lonely ore bin sitting at the top of the knoll all by itself.

What I did learn through this day-trip is just how important photography is to history.  The fact is that I don't have to explore the area because these historical photographs documented the town.  Aside from the distance between the mill and the mine, everything else is clear.  Someone could model this entire line just from those photographs.

Anyways, I'll be back to this site in the future, and this time I'll make an attempt to hike up the steep slope to that ore bin.  Because right there is where I know I'll find a roadbed which I can follow through the woods to the town site.  In the meantime, the mountain's secrets are still hidden.

You can check out the other 60 some photographs I took on my blog:

http://jjwtrains.blogspot.com/2016/04/pardee-very-very-old-ghost-town.html

Thanks!

--James;)



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It looks like a beautiful day in a beautiful place. The forest sure took over. I can almost smell the fragrance of the trees. Thanks for the pics.

Herb Kephart
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Love forests, James..Too bad Si got there first with his bulldozer!  Any hope of getting to the mine it's self on a future trip?

In the future, if you limit the width of the photos that you post to 800 pixels, folks wont have to scroll across to view the whole shot (and the accompanying text)

Herb

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Great stuff, especially the vintage photos. Too bad there is so little remaining at the site.

BTW, LGB used to sell a G scale Iron Mountain RR "Helena" Porter.

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Hi All,
NarrowGaugeChaos.com is my website and I have been looking for photos and materials on Pardee and the Iron Mountain Mine for years. I first saw the photo of the porter in John Wood's excellent book, Railroads Through the Coeur d'Alenes. You're right, the setting really should be modeled.

With the exception of two ore bins and the rock walls of a powder house, the buildings at Pardee have slipped back into the pages of history. There are parts of the ore cars scattered about the mountain side and you can bushwhack your way along the tramway. There are current photos of the site on my website. About a year ago I published an article in the Journal for the Society of Industrial Archaeology (IA Vol 38, Num 2, pages 19-37) on the mine and tramway. The url for the society is http://www.sia-web.org.

Due to copyright issues I can't post the article online but I am willing to send it to interested parties if they contact me directly. Included in the article are plans for the ore car. I am currently printing out the cars parts in steel and brass for a museum diorama.

As part of the project my students and I did a few dozen detail drawing of the car components. We are the process of producing a booklet on the car and will make the 3d models available for printing on Shapeways in due time. In On3 the Grandtline 8 ton porter makes a great starting point and the Accucraft porter works well for Gn3.

Cheers,
Marty Johnston


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