The Iron Mountain Mine

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Superior 59872,Missoula Area

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Location: I-90 at milepost 58 between Superior and Alberton.

The Iron Mountain Mine, one of the largest and most successful quartz mines in western Montana, was located about 12 miles north of here. L. T. Jones, a former Northern Pacific Railroad brakeman, discovered the ore body in 1888. Jones and his partners, D. R. Frazier and Frank Hall, located the Iron Mountain and Iron Tower lode claims on upper Hall Gulch. Later they bonded the property for $100,000 to J. K. Pardee, a prominent Montana mining entrepreneur, and Iron Mountain Company was born.

Intensive development began in 1889. Getting the ore to smelters was a major undertaking until 1891 when the Northern Pacific built a rail line from Missoula through Superior, four miles south of the mine.

By 1891 the company had built a concentrator that could reduce 100 tons daily. The concentrates were sent to the American Smelting and Refining Co. at Omaha, Nebraska, or East Helena, Montana, or, later, to Globe Smelter and Reduction Works of Denver, Colorado.

An 1897 state law forced the Iron Mountain Mine to close. It required all mines to have an escape shaft in addition to the main tunnel, and the Iron Mountain had only a main tunnel. From 1889 to 1898, the mine had produced over $1,000,000 and paid out $507,000 in dividends.

Later efforts to reopen the mine had only minor success and all that now remains are several wooden buildings, the railroad grade, many tramway routes, the concrete foundations of the mill, the stone and concrete powder houses, the tailings piles, and the collapsed adits and shafts.

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