Montana Mining Company

Alternative names
Dates:
active 1900
active 1904
Gender:
WorldCat, nwda, LC

Biographical notes:

On November 11, 1882, the Joint Stock Association, a London syndicate, agreed to purchase the Drumlummon Mine in Marysville, Montana Territory, from Thomas Cruse. Cruse filed a claim on the Drumlummon in 1876 and he spent the next four years driving a 500-foot tunnel. Two years later a five stamp mill constructed by the Mayger Bros. was processing Drumlummon ore and turning a profit. That same year Cruse transformed his small claim into a return of $1,500,000 by selling the Drumlummon to British investors. The Drumlummon would become Montana's richest gold mine, delivering over $16,000,000 in bullion over time. In 1883 the British syndicate organized the Montana Mining Company, Limited, to repurchase and operate the property. The company appointed George Attwood as general manager. He was forced to resign, along with the company's directors, in 1884 due to stockholder dissatisfication with his managment of the property. The stockholders were especially unhappy with the uneven balance between capital investments for expanded milling capacity and production revenues. That same year, Henry Bratnober and R.T. Bayliss took over management of the Drumlummon. Their management soon increased production yielding dividends averaging 22.5 percent by 1887. Thereafter profits declined due to lower grade ore. In addition, between 1889-1907, the company became involved in costly and disrupting apex litigation over several adjoining properties. The most important of these suits was brought by the St. Louis Mining and Milling Company. When that suit was finally settled in the United States Supreme Court in 1911, the Montana Mining Co., Ltd. was forced to sell the Drumlummon Mine to the St. Louis Mining and Milling Company at sheriff's sale. In 1916 the St. Louis Mining and Milling Co. reopened Marysville operations with increased mill capacity. Over its lifetime 1880-1940, miners in the Marysville District extracted over $40,000,000 in gold and silver ore.

From the guide to the Montana Mining Company, Ltd. Records, 1892-1905, (Montana Historical Society Archives)

Mining company of Montana and Nevada; conducted mining operations at Edgemont, Nev.

From the description of Montana Mining Company records, 1900-1904. (Nevada State Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 76892165

Mining began in Montana in the 1850s, when traders for the Hudson's Bay Company discovered gold near present-day Deer Lodge. Little came of these early diggings but the territory continued to attract hopefuls and the first big strike took place near Bannack in 1862. In the next two years, gold was discovered at Virginia City and Last Chance Gulch in the heart of present day Helena. A dozen years after the first discoveries in Helena, Thomas Cruse filed for the claim on the Drumlummon. His discovery gave birth to the town of Marysville and one of the first rich mines in Montana. While the wealth produced by the Drumlummon pales in comparison with the later copper giants in Butte, the discovery of rich gold and silver deposits provided a tremendous boost to the Montana Territory's economy and spurred national and international investment.

The claim for this vein of gold and silver ore was filed by Thomas Cruse in 1876. He drove a tunnel into the vein over the next several years but reportedly went only 500 feet. In 1880, Cruse convinced William and Charles Mayger to construct a five stamp mill for processing ore from the mine. The ore was processed for a time and then a disagreement over royalty payments led Cruse to buy out the Mayger's interest in the mill. Word of the rich ore being mined at the Drumlummon reached beyond the borders of the Montana Territory. The Joint Stock Association, a London based company, organized to buy the Drumlummon Mine from Thomas Cruse in 1882. The following year they purchased the mine and created the Montana Mining Company, Limited. The company paid Thomas Cruse $1.63 million for the property and allowed him to retain a one-sixth ownership in the mine. Cruse used the profits to establish a bank in Helena and went on to be a successful and wealthy businessman.

The Montana Mining Company installed George Attwood as manager of the mine. He did a poor job and resigned after his first year when profits did not meet expectations. He was replaced by R.T. Bayliss, a capable manager, in 1884. The arrival of competent management coincided with a sharp rise in profits. Bayliss was replaced for a year by Henry Bratnober before returning to manage the mine through 1891. During this period almost 500,000 tons of ore were removed yielding $9.2 million. A feud between the Montana Mining Company and the St. Louis Mining and Milling Company erupted in 1889. The dispute centered on ownership of a vein being mined by both companies. The St. Louis Company filed suit to halt the Montana Mining Company's miners and the resulting apex litigation lasted until 1911. The suit ultimately reached the Supreme Court of the United States and cost nearly $400,000 in legal fees. The costs of the suit, the court decision in favor of the St. Louis Mining and Milling Company, and declining ore values at the Drumlummon forced the Montana Mining Company to sell the property at sheriff's sale in 1911. The stockholders of the St. Louis Mining and Milling Company received an impoverished mine in disrepair for all their litigation efforts. Management of the property shifted to William Mayger, the St. Louis Company's superintendent. After fierce corporate infighting, he was replaced in 1913 by Harry Quinby. The new manager lasted only briefly before he was ousted by William Mayger. For the next 20 years stockholder squabbles and failing finances kept the St. Louis Mining and Milling Company on the brink of collapse. During the final years there were constant shutdowns and stockholder assessments. The mines and mills finally closed in 1933, ending one of the richest mineral strikes in Montana history.

From the guide to the Montana Mining Company Records, 1882-1934, (Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library Archives and Special Collections)



Biographical notes are generated from the bibliographic and archival source records supplied by data contributors.

Links to collections