Lost Butte, Montana, a book by Richard I. Gibson, is in stores and museum gift shops around Butte. Or order from the publisher. It's also in E-book formats at all the usual places. And read an interview with Gibson, here, and on KXLF here. The Facebook page has many historic photos of Butte, and the Butte-Anaconda NHLD project showcases many historic buildings. Location-oriented posts can be found on HistoryPin. On Mondays beginning in January 2016, look for Gibson's "Mining City History" column in the Montana Standard.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Mayflower Mine

Click to enlarge. Letter in Dick Gibson's collection.
By Richard I. Gibson

We know, of course, that W.A. Clark had his fingers in many mineral pies beyond Butte, in Arizona and Nevada among others. But he was also involved in mining outside the Butte District, and not too far away, as indicated by this letter to him (in New York) from the Superintendent of the Mayflower Mine south of Whitehall. The text of the letter is transcribed below.

Mayflower Mining Company
W.A. Clark, President
J. R. Clark, Vice Pres.
A.J. Johnson, Treasurer
C.W. Clark, Secretary
B.C. Leyson, Superintendent of Mines
Butte Office: Over W.A. Clark & Bros. bank, cor. Main and Broadway

Gaylord, Montana, July 14, 1898

William A. Clark, Esq.
#43 Cedar St.
New York

Dear Sir:

The North drift at the 120 foot level is looking much better again this morning.
There is 4½ feet of ore in the bottom and 6½ feet in the top. This drift is in 28 feet. Comensing [sic] with today the N.P. R. Ry will only run trains into Parrot on Tuesdays and Fridays of each week. The two ore trains are hauling every day. I expect the third to commence tomorrow.
Yours Respectfully,
Bassett C. Leyson
Mayflower Mine, 1971. Photo by Dick Gibson.

Clark led the Mayflower Mining Company from 1896 to 1901, during which time production totaled about $1,250,000 worth of gold in 1900 dollars. The high-grade ore from the main mine averaged $150 per ton. The mine began from a 700-foot tunnel, with a 925-foot winze (a sub-vertical shaft) that found ore at several different elevations. The ore was mostly native gold in carbonate, but also included commercially valuable tellurides and sulfides. The reference in this letter to Parrot is to a railroad siding on Parrot Bench south of Whitehall, where the Parrot Smelter was located. The nearby company town of Gaylord (named for original superintendent Jared Gaylord) came to be referred to as Parrot, and when the Amalgamated (Anaconda) took over operations about 1902, the smelter was abandoned. The photo shows the mine in 1971, with ridges of Elkhorn Mountains Volcanics in the background.

43 Cedar Street in New York City today is in the heart of lower Manhattan’s Financial District, two blocks from Broadway and two blocks from Wall Street. So far as I can tell, the building contained several law offices and at least one publishing company, and I think it is gone today; the space seems to hold a small plaza and fountain.

The Clark & Bros. Bank in Butte at 49 N. Main (southwest corner with Broadway) was a two-story building that included a barber shop and bath house in the basement as recently as 1900. The bank continued in a new reinforced concrete building erected in 1916, which was ultimately replaced by the present building in the 1960s. Butte’s first two-story building, the Hotel de Mineral, occupied this corner in 1875.

Bassett Leyson also worked on mines in Walkerville for Clark. Born in Wisconsin (1858), he traveled by schooner in 1871 to Panama, across the isthmus by wagon train, and by boat to California. He died in Bozeman in 1942, with a front-page Montana Standard article covering his death February 6. 

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