Up to 1872, only a little e placer mining by a man named Britton had been done in the section now known as Deadwood, then Kline, who was also working placer, discovered the first quartz ledge, and named it Bismark.
He immediately turned his whole attention to quartz, working with good success for three or four years. He next discovered the Montezuma, and still owns both mines. The latter joins the Shafter mine near the summit. Mr. Balleau made his appearance in 1876 and discovered the Last Chance and Monte Christo. He took in a partner named Muncey, and all the winter made from ten to twenty dollars per day with a spring pole mortar. In the spring, they put up a horse arastra, and two tons of rock crushed by it yielded twelve hundred dollars. They then purchased Zein Brown’s water right and put up a waterpower arastra. Fred Deiner and Trotter then became interested, and together they built the first road in Deadwood, one and a half miles long, for hauling the quartz to their arastra. They took out thirty thousand dollars; Balleau then sold out to Fred Deiner and went prospecting again. Deiner was taken sick and to San Francisco for medical treatment, where he died. Trotter turned over his interest to Morris Griffin and left for Arizona. Sebastian and Balleau discovered the Brown Bear, also the Little Vein, now owned by the McDonald brothers. Mr. Lambert then came in and purchased the Brown Bear for $16,000. He realized nearly one million dollars, and then thinking he had about worked out the claims, sold the whole outfit, mill and works to the present proprietors for ten thousand dollars. They have now struck a big chute of ore in the Last Chance, by running across and striking the extension in the McDonald mine, and raised an airshaft into their shaft. It is expected the chute will last for years, and proves the richness of both mines. The next discovery was the Black Bear, by R. Killin, who, after working a little time with a mortar, sold to Frick & Davis for $5,000. They worked it between two and three years, and realized sixty thousand dollars clear of all expenses; then suspecting it was running out, sold to Gibson for $5,000. Gibson discovered the Brunswick on the Shasta side of the summit. Tom McDonald was working for him, and prospecting for himself at intervals. Gibson gave him permission to prospect a location on his Donnelly Gulch, and, if he struck anything, come in as a full partner. In passing through the gulch, becoming tired, he sat down to rest. Looking around he observed some croppings and, upon examining them, discovered they were lousy with gold.
He immediately sent for his brother, Luke, and together they sank on the vein, which proved very rich and what they took out yielded five hundred dollars to the ton. Frick & Davis became excited, and were hungry to buy, which they did at last, by giving the Gibson brothers $12,000 each, and the McDonald brothers $7,000 each. The McDonald brothers then bought the Little Vein of Sebastian for $11,000, and, taking Knox Franck in as a partner, have worked it ever since. It paid from the word go, and the ore left by Sebastian on the dump paid the purchase money.
The fluctuations of fortune in the life of a prospector were well displayed in that of Mr. Shafter. In 1873 or ’74 he came into Deadwood tired and footsore, with blankets on his back. He had then been prospecting the Igo and Bullychoop country for four or five years without meeting any with success. Halting at the Monte Christo shaft, he inquired of Balleau if there was any chance of getting work or any good place to prospect. After making him comfortable, he was directed to Kline for work. He gave him a job to haul rock downhill on a hand sled for the liberal sum of $1.50 per day. As soon as he had made enough for grub and tools he started prospecting. Balleau and Muncey told him that he might make what he could get out of a location they owned above Kline’s. He soon discovered the rich deposit now known as the Shafter Mine, and hired Dutchmen at $15 per month to run a hand arastra, and in two or three years cleared between thirty to forty thousand dollars; sold out for sixteen thousand dollars and retired from mining life with a handsome competence.
BROWN BEAR MINE
This mine has the largest production record of the quartz mines of Trinity County, and is located in sections 11, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 24, T33N, R8W, MDM about six miles east of Lewiston. It has been intermittently operated between its discovery in 1875 until 1950. The period of greatest activity ended in 1912, but parts of the mine were worked briefly in 1939, and during the years between 1946 and 1950. Only very recently has it been reopened again, possibly on a long-term basis.
The mine area includes 35 separate parcels of patented land, lode claims, placer claims, and some timber land, all presently assessed to Mr. E. E. Erich, of French Gulch. He estimates the past gross production at 8 to 10 million dollars, three of the individual ore bodies have produced as much as $1,000,000 each.
The gold occurs in veins and fissures within the body of sedimentary Bragdon slate formation, which is of two distinct types- one hard, siliceous, and blocky, and the other soft, black and graphitic. These have been intruded and cut by igneous materials, diorite-porphyry and soda-granitic-porphyry, all of which have been fissured and fractured extensively. The veins strike in various directions, but with a general east-west trend. There is a tendency to a reversal of dip in the lower levels, making the average dip nearly vertical. The gold-bearing veins vary widely in size, direction, and values, ranging from $10 to $100 per ton. The ore is primarily white quartz carrying 1-4% sulfides; pyrite and sphalerite, a little galena and arsenopyrite; and free gold.
Baseball was a favorite pastime; lacking flat ground for a ball diamond in Deadwood, the young men played in the field behind Scott’s barn at Lewiston. Nellie (Scott) Pattison, when a child, with her brothers, would wait for the players to leave. Then they would gather the empty whiskey flasks left around the back stop and turn them in at Paulsen’s store for money.
Drilling contests were held during celebrations and Joe Siligo held the world’s record. Drillers worked in teams of two, one man striking the drill, the other holding and quickly inserting a new longer, slightly smaller in diameter, drill into the hole as needed. Billy Richards was “holding” for Joe at one time- they were drilling overhead in what was known as an “upper”. The six-pound hammer glanced off the drill and hit Billy in the middle of his forehead, breaking a hole in his skull. Miraculously, both survived- Richards from the injury and Siligo from the horror of having almost “done in” his good friend.
Even after the motor driven jackhammers were in use at lower Deadwood, it was necessary to hand drill the side drifts, Stanford Scott remembers Joe siligo drilling thirty inches into hard rock in twenty minutes. Enormous charges of dynamite were used- fifty, seventy-five and sometimes one hundred pounds. Fuses were lit that were hopefully long enough to give the men time to get out of the tunnel before the charge went off.
Many of the young men became members of the Odd Fellows Lodge in Weaverville. They were so faithful in attending meetings, that, if they had no horse transportation, they walked the six miles to Lewiston. Then they walked another nine miles from Lewiston to Weaverville over the old trail that takes off near the mouth of Rush Creek.
Activity in Deadwood touched almost everyone in Lewiston and the surrounding area. Herbert Blakemore remembers when he was a boy, delivering quantities of berries and vegetables to the Lappin mine from his parent’s (the Jeff Blakemores) place. This attractive little ranch is now under the upper end of Lewiston Lake. “Herb” added that his cousin, Lee Blakemore, made more money gambling at Deadwood than he ever did at mining. My uncle, Edwin Scott, remembers helping his aunt Ursula Blakemore pick huge quantities of berries to be sent to Deadwood. He also remembers hearing of the good times his sisters and brothers at the box social suppers held at the dances in the Deadwood school. George Anderlini remembers helping his uncle Frank haul hay and garden produce up to Deadwood. The anderlini Ranch is now the Santos place at Rush Creek.
Nellie Scott Pattison, now 88, was ten when she made her first trip to Deadwood. The Scotts then lived at the upper end of Clayton’s field, just north of Mary Smith Campground- under Lewiston Lake. She went with Mr. Clayton in his wagon when he was delivering fresh vegetables and Nellie delivered butter to her mother’s Deadwood customers.
First hand information about Deadwood is becoming hard to come by. It was my good fortune to have made my home with the Richards after they left Eastman to live in Lewiston while uncle Billy filled out his working years with the Trinity dredge. Later, their retirement home was built next to us in Weaverville. They are both gone now, but left many notes and pictures to help fill in a portion of the Deadwood story. Thinking back, I remember how many former Deadwood friends visited their home. In the future, in or between the mile after mile of honeycomb network of underground tunnels, will new strikes be made- to prove that Deadwood has only been sleeping or is Deadwood really dead?
Florence E. Morris