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

September 11, 2008

The Daisy Creek Trail

Yesterday we cleared the first three miles of the Daisy Creek Trail, F.S. trail 604. The first mile and a half of it is fairly flat as it follows an old road that lead to the Iron Daisy mine which operated intermittently from 1894 to 1936. From there the trail climbs somewhat steeply for another 4 miles or so into the Mount Bushnell roadless area where it meets the long CC Divide trail 404. Our three miles included a vertical climb of about 800 feet.

Some of the down trees were quite large, and it is much more difficult to cut out and remove those that came to rest fairly high above the trail. This was my third day of trail work and I could tell that the physical conditioning was starting to have an effect, at least to the extent that my exhaustion was not quite total at the end of the day. Although we didn’t see any or hear any bugle, this is prime elk country and I imagine there will be an elk hunter or two who will be pleased to use a clear trail on his hunt this fall.

Daisy Creek Trail 604

Daisy Creek Trail 604

Daisy Creek Trail 604

Daisy Creek Trail 604

Daisy Creek Trail 604

Daisy Creek Trail 604

(The Daisy Creek trail follows Daisy Creek which flows into Prospect Creek about 11 miles west of Thompson Falls, Montana. Because of the persistent vandalism that seems to be present at all trail heads reachable by motor vehicles, the signs marking the start of the trail have been torn down and destroyed: one must carefully look for it after studying the Lolo National Forest map. Once again I feel compelled to remark that the sign in the first photo is a mile or so up the trail itself where it has remained for 80 years, free from the criminal activity always associated with motor vehicle accessibility. The entire area is heavily wooded, with cedar, fir, pine, and some huge old larch which reach almost 200 feet into the sky.)

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