Montana Outdoors

September 12, 2008

The Iron Daisy Mine

Wednesday when I was helping to clear the Daisy Creek trail I encountered a very pleasant surprise; a brief journey back into some of the history of this area. Next to the trail, about a mile and a half up is the site of the old Iron Daisy Mine.

This mine is located in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains of western Montana, a mile and a half south of Prospect Creek and eleven miles west of the small town of Thompson Falls. It produced gold, silver, zinc and lead intermittently from about 1894 to 1936. In 1928 a small mill was built on the site and by 1931, 3,000 feet of tunnels had been built and the depth of the workings was 100 feet. I could find no information dated after 1936, and as far as I can tell, the State of Montana now considers the mine to be abandoned.

This appears to be the remains of the mill built in 1928.

At the site of the Iron Daisy Mine

It’s significant that the large piles of tailings seem to be the only remains that have almost completely survived nature’s process of reclamation: the dumps always remain intact.

At the site of the Iron Daisy Mine

These are the remains of an old building which appears to have been a storage building or equipment shed, judging by the construction.

At the site of the Iron Daisy Mine

A short distance from the mine site and above it, on a slight rise, are found the remains of two old cabins, built side by side. For a few minutes, let your mind take you back seventy to a hundred years in the past and imagine what it must have been like to live there when they were in their prime. (There was even a “picture window” in the larger cabin!)

At the site of the Iron Daisy Mine

At the site of the Iron Daisy Mine

At the site of the Iron Daisy Mine

At the site of the Iron Daisy Mine

Iron Daisy Mine cabin


  1. Fascinating! It seems like such a long time ago, but really it is not. Time flies. Are the tailings toxic?


    Comment by Tabbie — September 12, 2008 @ 9:11 pm

  2. I really don’t know if there are any issues with toxicity. Most of the information I’ve been able to find is from The State of Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and nowhere have I seen anything mentioned about that in this area.

    There were quite a few mining claims and mines in the Prospect Creek mining district which was fairly active from about to 1882 to 1936, but the district was never highly productive. I’d guess the district area was roughly a hundred square miles. There is presently an antimony mine still operating in the area and there have not been any toxicity issues there that I’ve heard of either.


    Comment by montucky — September 12, 2008 @ 10:07 pm

  3. We have huge tailings piles in this area too,… from the iron mines. Our mines are closed down and abandoned too. the mine shafts have filled with water. To my knowledge, the tailings are not toxid, but if it were lead that would be a different story I guess.

    oh if those old log walls could talk! So very interesting, thanks, Montucky!


    Comment by Cedar — September 13, 2008 @ 6:12 am

  4. Really fascinating, Montucky. Those kinds of cabin scenes always stir a bit of longing in me to get back to nature, live off the land. I think I drift somewhere in the middle of consumer awareness – I watch where my dollar goes, but I hate the idea of agri-business and try to buy local. Sometimes I think my living could be more strongly aligned with my values, but it isn’t easy.


    Comment by Bo — September 13, 2008 @ 7:48 am

  5. interesting…
    …I love the second last photo a lot! 🙂


    Comment by Sumedh — September 13, 2008 @ 7:52 am

  6. Cedar,

    There is an area a couple hundred miles east of there that’s the site of a super-fund cleanup due to mines in the Butte and Anaconda area, and there were huge ecological issues to the west in Idaho. I think the miniscule yield of the mines in this area probably saved it from those troubles.

    Yes, I wish I were able to show photos of those cabins when they were occupied and in their prime!


    Comment by montucky — September 13, 2008 @ 8:48 am

  7. I know what you mean, Bo. It’s easier here to be closer to nature for those who want to, and there are quite a few who do, including a few who do come very close to living off the land. I’m in between, but clearly closer to the natural side. In some ways, progress has been good for folks, but what we have to learn is that there is a limit beyond which we dare not go.


    Comment by montucky — September 13, 2008 @ 8:55 am

  8. I do too, Sumedh. It makes me want to go in there and clean up the place bit and recreate a secluded retreat.


    Comment by montucky — September 13, 2008 @ 9:00 am

  9. How interesting. I feel like I have been there with you.


    Comment by nouveaufauves — September 14, 2008 @ 1:24 am

  10. It is an interesting place. I don’t know how many more years the structures will remain visible.


    Comment by montucky — September 14, 2008 @ 10:05 am

  11. Oh, what an awesome bit of history. Those cabins are just so *evocative*! I want to know who lived there and what their days were like.



    Comment by Sara — September 15, 2008 @ 11:14 am

  12. I was up in that general area again today, clearing another trail, and we were talking about just that as we drove along what used to be an old wagon road from the mines to the river. My friend said she sometimes thought she heard the sounds of horses hooves as she hiked through there.


    Comment by montucky — September 15, 2008 @ 9:23 pm

  13. how interesting!!

    we have been living somewhat like that, no electricity, open windows, etc…

    but I was lucky to have running water and a gas stove! it looks so quaint, but I don’t think I would last long like that!


    Comment by silken — September 18, 2008 @ 6:53 pm

  14. You did indeed have a look back quite a few years and sample a little of what it was like without all of our modern conveniences. Think though, that perhaps a hundred years from now, folks will look back at our lives and think they couldn’t live like that either.


    Comment by montucky — September 18, 2008 @ 7:14 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: